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directed by Pierre Laffargue
France 2009

 

Black (rapper MC Jean Gab'1, DISTRICT 13) is laying low after a heist gone bad. When his cousine Lamine (Ibrahima Mbaye) calls him from Dakar about a cache of diamonds in a poorly-guarded bank, he and his crew - Bozyeux (Louis-Karim Nébati), Al Kaid (Youssef Hajdi, MICMACS), and Masta (François Bredon, TELL NO ONE) - head to Africa to plan another heist. Little do they know that the bank's corrupt director Koumassi (Michel B. Dupérial, POLA X) has been fired and replaced with the imperious Miss Gaye (Carole Karemera, SOMETIMES IN APRIL). Meanwhile, Degrand's (Francois Levantal, CRIMSON RIVERS) arms deal with mercenary Viktor (Anton Yakovlev, LORNA'S SILENCE) goes wrong and Degrand needs to replace the defective weapons. Koumassi cannot raise the funds but tells Degrand about the diamonds, but word travels fast and Viktor decides to engineer the heist (giving Degrand a measly ten percent). Black cases the bank, but becomes just as interested in the "impenetrable fortress" that is Miss Gaye. Black's original plan goes awry when his partners are all variously incapacitated (drugged, hungover, and robbed), so he and Lamine decide to go after the diamonds during the transport; unfortunately, that is also when Degrand, Viktor, and his men strike. Black throws a monkey wrench (or rather, a grenade) into their operation and makes off with the diamonds. Soon, Black and Lamine are being trailed not only by Degrand and Viktor, but also by the more observant and cunning Miss Gaye, who is actually interpol agent Pamela. She apprehends Black and the diamonds, and they are soon on the run from Viktor's men. Meanwhile, Degrand and his witch-doctor mistress Fatoumata (Mata Gabin) are planning to double-cross Viktor with the help of "The Snakes." Briskly paced - with a fantastic and diverse score - BLACK is entertaining, violent, and funny. It's really blaxploitation by way of Tarentino (or perhaps, more appropriately, Luc Besson). Stylistically, it is slick but nothing we have not seen before (freeze frames with introductory text, a loud musical introduction to Dakkar upon the characters' arrival, sliding split-screen montages). The totemic/symbolic device identifying Black with the lion, Pamela with the panther, and Degrand with the snake is neat, but it tips the viewer off as to how the character relationships will evolve (then things get really weird). Director Laffargue keeps things from getting too predictable by throwing in weirdness that nevertheless feels organic to the film (until the climax, which descends into video-game type stalk and attack, albeit with CAT PEOPLE/WOLFEN-esque solarized infrared POV shots). As such, the film is compelling until the final confrontation. Gab'1 and Karemera are charismatic leads, but the villainy is unevenly divided between Levantal and a snarling Yakovlev (who is suitably over-the-top throughout), while Gabin makes a neat-if-underused Bond villain female sidekick in the Grace Jones mold. While not quite the sum of its parts, BLACK is an entertaining mash-up of concepts and action set-pieces.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 15 July 2009 (France)

Reviews             DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:45:56 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

2.32:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.0 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio French Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.32:1

Edition Details:
• Teaser Trailer (16:9; 0:20)

DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

With the exception of the teaser trailer, Anchor Bay's R2 DVD is barebones (I have not come across word of any exclusive extras on the Blu-ray edition HERE that is also due out from Anchor Bay). Optional English subtitles are provided for the 5.1 and 2.0 French tracks.

With far from remote proficiency in French, I did catch one mis-translation. Early on, the old man tells Black to "remember the scar of the lion" and the subtitles have his subsequent line as a repeat of that, but that time he says "signe du lion" (possibly a Rohmer reference). BLACK has not been announced for US DVD/Blu yet, but an R1 edition exists in Canada from Evokative Films  HERE.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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