Tiger Brigades

Tiger Brigades


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A period cop show, based on a TV series, will feel like a Christmas special, surely? Actually, no.

Over two hours long – you don’t feel it – this is more intimate than an epic, with a diffuse collection of interesting characters and a plot that includes an international treaty, a beautiful princess, embezzlement on a grand scale, political corruption, a drug addicted hitman, various anarchists with guns and a car/bike chase through a Parisian market.

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This is two years before the start of the Great War. The Tiger Brigades, as they call themselves, are the first motorised police unit in Paris, dedicated to terrorism and the security of the state, which can mean anything, of course. They consider themselves an elite corps of honorable men, crime busters with a conscience, dangerously independent, maverick and irreverent.

The story centres around Constance (Diane Kruger), who is married to the Tsar’s cousin, Prince Radetsky (Alexandre Medvedev), a charmer with devious plans to steal millions through a phony loan scheme, while officially participating in the Triple Entendre, a treaty of mutual cooperation between Britain, France and Russia to offset the growing strength and aggression of the Kaiser.

Constance’s lover is Bonnot (Jacques Gamblin), leader of the most active anarchist group in France, dedicated to exposing Radetsky’s liaison with the banker Cagne (Philippe Duquesne). The Brigade’s four man team knows nothing of Constance’s involvement with Bonnot, or of Cagne’s association with the Russians, but it learns fast.

There is action on every level - the hunting down of Bonnot, the assassin’s (Thierry Fremont) cruel revenge, Valentin (Clovis Cornillac) of the Brigades’ infatuation with Constance, bombs in lights bulbs at the opera house. The film looks terrific and is beautifully paced by the Cornuau brothers.

Criticism of slickness and an underlying romanticism, connected to doomed passion and the visual purity of well manicured sets and artistically satisfying explosions, is offset by performances that surpass expectation, creating genuine tension and emotional involvement. Kruger is especially fine, with chilling support from Fremont.

If the plot is straight out of John Buchan, the filmmaking is extremely well dressed.

Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2007
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The first motorised special police unit in Paris before the Great War contains terrorism, uncovers corruption and falls under the spell of a Russian princess.
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Director: Jérôme Cornuau, François Cornuau

Writer: Xavier Dorison, Fabien Nury, based on the TV series

Starring: Clovis Cornillac, Diane Kruger, Edouard Baer, Olivier Gourmet, Stefano Accorsi, Jacques Gamblin, Thierry Frémont, Léa Drucker, Alexandre Medvedev, Philippe Duquesne, Gérard Jugnot, Didier Flamand, Andre Marcon

Year: 2006

Runtime: 125 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: France


French 2007

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