Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

Funky, Seventies-style riffs and gorgeous aerial shots of Paris open this action-packed crime thriller - director Pierre Laffarague’s debut feature film. After a heist goes spectacularly wrong, Sengalese-born thief Black (MC Jean Gab'1) flees to his home city of Dakar to pull off a diamond robbery at a local bank - a tip off from his cousin.

He reckons he and his three buddies can rob the unsophisticated Africans with ease, but he does not expect others to also be after the gems. Soon he is battling an arms dealer who is slowly turning into a snake, a gang of machete-wielding wrestlers and a horde of Russian mercenaries… then things are complicated even further by the appearance of sexy Interpol agent Pamela.

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But as all of them are chasing the diamonds, the movie takes an unexpected shift and switches from Guy Ritchie-style heist movie to mystical mystery.

Black and Pamela (Carole Karemera) encounter a tribe while fleeing their adversaries and discover they are the lion and the panther, destined to overthrow the evil snake man also after the diamonds.

This breaking of genre boundaries is surreal but one of many enjoyable elements of Black. There’s the funky, blaxpoitation soundtrack - which shifts to African beats to mark Black’s transition from cool Parisian to tribal hero - and plenty of great action sequences.

MC Jean Gab’1 has the makings of a great action hero as he battles his way through the movie using blades, grenades, firearms and his fists. The rapper-turned-actor gives a solid performance and has bags of charisma - vital to ground such a bizarre plot twist.

He easily outshines the rest of the cast, particularly the over-the-top Russian Ouiliakov (Anton Yakovlev), a cartoonish bad guy with more than a touch of pantomime villain about him.

Unlike many of BIFF’s other offerings, Black may not have messages about morality or cutting social commentary but if all you want is a good popcorn movie with oodles of French cool, this is for you.

Reviewed on: 22 Mar 2010
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After a bank heist goes south, the surviving robber tries to get rich quick in Senegal, only to fall foul of a millionaire who is morphing into a snake and gaggle of other weirdos vying for power.
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Director: Pierre Laffargue

Writer: Pierre Laffargue, Lucio Mad, Gábor Rassov

Starring: MC Jean Gab'1, Carole Karemera, François Levantal, Anton Yakovlev, Christophe Aquillon, Ludovic Berthillot, Laurent Larrieu, Youssef Hajdi, Guillaume Zublena

Year: 2009

Runtime: 115 minutes

Country: France


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