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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Frank van Mechelen
Belgium 2013

 

The robbery of the private Jonkhere Bank of sixty-six out of eight hundred safety deposit boxes containing the dirty secrets of politicians, business executives, advisers to the Royal family, bankers, and military personnel controlling half of Belgium would have been hushed up and the culprit privately rooted out and disposed of had Belgian CID detective Paul Gerardi (Filip Peeters, LOFT) not started looking into a tip from unreliable informant Strubbe (Jos Geens, THE MISFORTUNATES). With the interests of his special clients in mind, cartoonishly evil bank president Raymond Jonkhere (Mike Verdrengh) elects to inform the victims and lean on public prosecutor Armand Persigal (Jo De Meyere, THE MEMORY OF A KILLER) to block any inquiries into the rumors of the robbery. When Commissioner Martin Colla (Warre Borgmans, BLINKER) dutifully informs Persigal of Paul's suspicions and persistence - particularly in light of the murders of two informants related to his investigation - Paul finds himself temporarily suspended ("in his best interest"). When he continues conducting an unofficial investigation, he finds his wife Sarah (An Miller, TIME OF MY LIFE) and daughter Sofie (Violet Braeckman) harassed by his own colleagues and himself pursued to be "neutralized" by the ruthless Vic Adams (Koen van Impe, BEN X) of the secret security force Cell P9 (dating back to the reign of Albert I at the turn of the twentieth century and believed to have been disbanded long ago). When his daughter is threatened, Paul continues his investigation as a member of Cell P9 with goals that do not necessarily fall into line with theirs and his idealistic principles also make him a danger of the members of Jonkhere's secret society Salamander. The society is already beginning to feel the repercussions of the break-in with blackmail calls that lead to a series of suicides and resignations that could wrest away their control of the government but also destabilize the entire country. Both Paul and Salamander find their investigations split between identifying one another and the person behind the robbery and blackmail plot.

Apart from a number of co-productions like Harry Kumel's DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS and the works of the BULLHEAD and LEFT BANK, Belgian film and TV has had little overseas exposure. The fact that several of SALAMANDER's lead actors have all previously appeared together in some of the bigger Belgian releases like THE INTRUDER, THE MEMORY OF A KILLER, LOFT, and STORMFORCE may speak less of the filmmakers' desire to reunite the cast members than of the smaller circle of go-to actors in the Belgian talent pool for such assignments. Once one gets accustomed to the almost "theatrical" performances of the villains and the middle-aged hero's seemingly irresistible-ness to all females, SALAMANDER proves to be one thrilling and unbearably suspenseful thriller. Just as certain initially repugnant characters become if not more likable than more relatable as the series progresses, so too does the grasping greed behind the interests of Salamander almost transforms them from appealingly evil super villains into the more conventionally repugnant picture of the the one percenters. Also appearing are Koen De Bouw as the mastermind behind the robbery and the one carrying out the blackmail (but on who's behalf?), Lucas Van den Eynde as Paul's former colleague turned monk for penance, Kevin Janssens (STORMFORCE) as an ambitious and ruthless junior member of Salamander, Gene Bervoets (once the tormented protagonist of THE VANISHING) as a slimy senator, Vic de Wachter as a retired industrialist with sudden new interests, and Tine Reymer as his loving daughter-in-law (and a love interest for Paul). A second series is already in production and I can't wait to see what follows the closing shot of the first season's finale.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 30 December 2012 - 17 March 2013 (Belgium)

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DVD Review: Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 9:24:54 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.24 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 Dutch/French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Episode 1 (16:9; 47:06), 2 (16:9; 47:32) , and 3 (16:9; 48:06)
• Start-up promos for 'Nordic Noir', 'Jo', and 'Braquo'

• DISC TWO:
• Episodes 4 (16:9; 47:24), 5 (16:9; 47:40), and 6 (16:9; 48:02)

• DISC THREE:
• Episodes 7 (16:9; 47:42), 8 (16:9; 47:36), and 9 (16:9; 46:58)

• DISC FOUR:
• Episodes 10 (16:9; 46:38), 11 (16:9; 42:06), and 12 (16:9; 48:04)

DVD Release Date: March 17th, 2014
Amaray

Chapters 60

 

Comments

Whereas some of Arrow's other TV releases squeezed four episodes onto each dual layer disc, their presentation of SALAMANDER spreads twelve episodes evenly over four discs (roughly two and a half hours each) affording a higher bitrate to the SD encoding of this high definition-lensed program. Some aliasing is apparent in a few long shots of brick walls and the grills of cars, but it is far less prevalent than in Arrow's discs of the UNIT ONE series. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo but the Dutch DVD edition also reportedly only features 2.0 audio. The optional English subtitles are free of any glaring errors (I had to consult the internet to learn that the frequently used "cos" is the British informal equivalent of "because").

There are no extras besides start-up promos for

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

 




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