Today: April 15, 2024

Dobermann DVD

Look beyond the timing though and there’s plenty to savour in this late nineties French actioner.

With this timely re-release no doubt hitching a
ride on Vincent Cassel’s Black Swan dramatics, it might be easy to label Jan
Kounen’s stylish but violent thriller a tag-along. Look beyond the timing
though and there’s plenty to savour in this late nineties French actioner.

Starring then
husband and wife team Cassel and Monica
Bellucci
as the film title’s gangster and gypsy Nat, Dobermann brings us the tale of an egotistical criminal whose plan
to rob three banks on the same street on the same day draws the attention of Tcheky Karyo’s nasty cop
Christini
.

It’s hard
to pin down exactly which director Kounen is aping most in this, perhaps his best known film; there are
touches of compatriot Jeunet in its
frenetic energy, John Woo in its
stylised action sequences and Besson
with it’s over-reliance at times on Hollywood standards. Throw in obvious
comparisons to last year’s superb The
Town
and Michael Mann’s Heat and
you’ve got a pretty high benchmark to
reach
which, for the most part, Kounen’s film does.

Cassel,
no stranger to the criminal world given his excellent performance in two-parter Mesrine a few years ago, oozes
menace and command on screen while the band of misfits, whose service he
renders, flesh out the story with enough
moments of humour or savagery
to keep things interesting when Cassel’s not
around. Karyo meanwhile more than matches the star for menace as the pair
collide during a rather sensory-assaulting
nightclub techno finale
in which Kounen makes good use sound in his violent
conclusion. Only Bellucci suffers here from a rather one-note role
unfortunately.

The pair
would meet again of course, in Gaspar Noe’s far more controversial Irreversible a few years later, but this marked
the highpoint for Kounen, who chose to follow a more sedate path with 2009’s Coco Chanel biopic in another
well-received effort.

As it is, Dobermann
is one film that likes to grab you by
the dog’s proverbials
and give you a good shake around. If that’s your
thing then hound this out.

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