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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Rejseholdet" or "Unit 1")

 

directed by Niels Arden Oplev, Jørn Faurschou, Peter Flinth, and Charlotte Sieling
Denmark 2000

 

Head of Special Cases Ingrid Dahl (Charlotte Fich, HEADHUNTER) runs into no small amount of resistance and resentment when she is appointed head of the National Police's mobile Unit One by chief Ulf Thomsen (Erik Wedersøe, IDIOTERNE) at the behest of female police commissioner (Susse Wold, THE HUNT). Her first case is investigating the murder of its previous head Torben (Bendt Hildebrandt, THE SECRET WEAPON), and she does not endear herself to the others - particularly crime scene officer Thomas La Cour (Lars Brygmann, THE CELEBRATION) and detective inspector Allan Fischer (Mads Mikkelsen, TV's HANNIBAL) - when she entertains the press' theory that Torben was the victim of a gay sex crime since he was living with his daughter's godfather; however, acting captain "IP" Sorenson (Waage Sandø, WINTERBORN) is surprisingly supportive and information officer Gaby Levin (Trine Pallesen, TV's THE KILLING) is glad to have another female around. As the case progresses, we discover that Ingrid isn't the only one on the team whose personal life suffers in a job that requires them to be away from home at least two-hundred-and-twenty days out of the year.

In their second case - the two-parter "Request for Assistance A-21/99" - Unit One investigate the shooting death of a restauranteur Poulsen. The local police believe it to be an execution-style murder and suspect the local bikers since Poulsen dealt amphetamines on the side in his restaurant; however, Ingrid sees passion and anger in the murder and suspects a more personal motive involving the dead man's wife and his bodyguard. Interpersonally, Fischer tries to get La Cour laid, IP suspects his wife Kirsten (Lisbet Lundquist, IN YOUR HANDS) may be having an affair with Ulf, Gaby takes an interest in former footballer Johnny Olsen (Lars Bom, PUSHER) - the driver of their new high-tech mobile unit - and Ingrid is pulled away from the case at a crucial moment when her boyfriend Soren (Niels Olsen, BROTHERS) is the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

In "Request for Assistance A-6/00", Ingrid overturns Ulf's decision to have Fischer sit out a case because of bad blood between him and lead investigator Graff (Peter Aude, THE SUBSTITUTE) whom Fischer investigated for brutality charges after a suspect died during an interrogation. The case involves the brutal murder of an elderly woman. The suspect is her clearly unbalanced younger housemate Vibe (Annette Katzmann), but her story about a junkie prowler starts to seem less far-fetched (despite her increasingly bizarre behavior) when it is corroborated by evidence of a break-in and a reluctant witness. As Fischer and Graff try to put aside their differences to track down the junkie, Ingrid - with the help of blood spatter evidence from flirtatious recurring expert (Michael Falch, APPLAUSE) - tries to find a way to keep Vibe in custody based on her instincts while La Cour looks into her past.

Unit One's members reexamine and reconsider their personal relationships in "Request for Assistance A-11/00" while investigating the brutal bludgeoning murder of a female vicar in a church that has been locked from the inside. Suspects include the vicar's husband, the local headmaster and his wife, and the creepy verger. Ingrid once again finds herself pulled away from the case when tragedy strikes one of her loved ones. "Request for Assistance A-15/00" finds Unit One working around Ingrid's absence in investigating the disappearance of a a pretty young teacher just a short distance from her home after her parents' anniversary party. As the team investigates the husband, an amorous French faculty mate, and reports of a mysterious red car in the vicinity during the disappearance, a mourning Ingrid surprisingly proves to be the fresh set of eyes needed to look over the evidence.

The murder of a local party girl almost takes a back seat to what Fischer does when he catches the unbalanced suspect terrorizing his wife and child for a knife in the most straightforward and least satisfactory episode "Request for Assistance A-17/00". The last two episodes of the first series are the two-parter "Request for Assistance A-19/00" in which Unit One tries to discover the identity of a serial rapist of elderly women living alone before his increasingly violent pattern includes a murder. The unit is tailed by tabloid reporter Trine (Benedikte Hansen, IN YOUR HANDS) who not only makes them look incompetent but also endangers the life of a suspect with an inflammatory article. La Cour also runs into a face from the past in psychologist Helene (Susanne Storm, MIFUNE) whose profile seems to be leading the investigation away from the perpetrator as he becomes more frustrated and erratic.

Ostensibly based on real Danish crimes from the last twenty or so years, UNIT ONE moves at a fast clip and nicely balances the investigations and the drama. Not all of the plot turns are all that original (and some seem broadcast way too early to surprise, although it may seem less so if the episodes are viewed days apart rather than consumed in one sitting) and some of the drama is soapy, but the ensemble cast are likable and the action well-staged. I'm not sure how accurately the series reflects attitudes towards women in Danish law enforcement (at least at the time), but the series creators take care to show that Ingrid's exasperating stubborn streak does have its drawbacks (beyond ticking off her immediate superior who may have hired her as a bargaining chip for funding) when it comes to working with others. The writers also depict ways in which the group sometimes underestimate their suspects (sometimes with tragic consequences), as well as how some clever bending of the rules based on intuition can disappoint. The episodes do not always withhold the identify of the killer from the audience, and in those cases the stories are able to glean a goodly amount of suspense from just how the investigators will come to realize the significance of certain clues. If some cases seem more straightforward than others, it's a refreshing turn from the implausible circuitous twists you'll run into in you'll run into in some of the increasingly intelligence-insulting crime shows stateside, with an emphasis on believable investigation and interrogation (scenes of La Cour trying to place himself into the mindset of the killer or the victim as he investigates the crime scene have him voicing his impressions aloud to himself rather than experiencing flashy visions). One looks forward to the next series as much for the cases as the character development.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 1 October 2000 - 26 November 2000 (Denmark)

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DVD Review: Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 8:28:56
Video

1.73:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.77 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 Danish/English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, optional
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.73:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• - Episode 1: 'Request for Assistance A-15/99' (16:9; 58:36)
• - Episode 2: 'Request for Assistance A-21/99 Part One' (16:9; 55:36)
• - Episode 3: 'Request for Assistance A-21/99 Part Two' (16:9; 55:52)
• Start-up trailers for BRAQUO, PRISONERS OF WAR, and SEBASTIAN BERGMAN
• DISC TWO:
• - Episode 4: 'Request for Assistance A-6/00' (16:9; 58:22)
• - Episode 5: 'Request for Assistance A-11/00' (16:9; 57:24)
• - Episode 6: 'Request for Assistance A-15/00' (16:9; 55:50)
• DISC THREE:
• - Episode 7: 'Request for Assistance A-17/00' (16:9; 54:24)
• - Episode 8: 'Request for Assistance A-19/00 Part One' (16:9; 58:10)
• - Episode 9: 'Request for Assistance A-19/00 Part Two' (16:9; 57:42)

DVD Release Date: 21 January 2013
Special Case

Chapters 5x9

 

Comments

Arrow Films presents the nine episodes of the first series on three dual-layer discs. Picture quality is okay given the gritty look of the film, and there are some occasional moiring and banding on fine patterns in the production design and on location (this may either be a fault of the encoding or of the circa 2000 digital masters). The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio is problem free, while the optional English subtitles also transcribe some bits of foreign dialogue (that is later translated in the Danish dialogue and English subtitles). There are no extras.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

 




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