The only other film I have watched from director Pinoteau was the slight but not unenjoyable domestic comedy THE SLAP (1974) starring Lino Ventura and a pre-stardom Isabelle Adjani. The film under review, then, is another (and much more typical) vehicle for the tough screen persona of Italian-born star of French crime cinema Ventura who appears alongside Hollywood veterans Angie Dickinson and Donald Pleasence in this lively chase thriller that benefits from Jean Boffety's location shooting and Claude Bolling's fine score; the movie that separates this and BUTTERFLY ON THE SHOULDER (1978; both co-scripted by Jean-Claude Carriere) was another of Ventura's own shots at international stardom with the underrated and star-studded British psychological horror film, THE MEDUSA TOUCH (1978) a fondly-remembered guilty pleasure from my childhood days. Having said that, the copy of JIG-SAW (the original French title stands for THE ANGRY MAN) that I watched was in English which, being about a Frenchman looking for his missing son in Canada, made sense and Ventura himself supplies his own heavily-accented Gallic voice to the role. Director Pinoteau had already directed Ventura earlier in his directorial debut LE SILENCIEUX aka THE SILENT ONE (1973; co-starring Leo Genn and Robert Hardy and which I have just acquired on the strength of JIG-SAW) but he would soon strike box office gold with a double return to domestic comedies with LE BOUM (1980) and its sequel that starred future star Sophie Marceau as a precocious child.
Ventura is an airline pilot who loses his wife in a tragic car accident during a forest fire in which his young offspring was also present; afterwards, father and son drifted apart until an acrimonious split that sends Ventura Jr. fleeing into Canada to take part in boxing bouts, peddle drugs and drive illegal immigrants across the border. Things come to a head when the young man's partner shoots their latest customer and the police officer who gives chase; however, the dead partner has falsified the passport of Ventura's son as his own and, consequently, the authorities call in the old man to identify his son's body. When he realizes his son is now a fugitive, the Police allow him free rein (relatively speaking) to make his own investigations with the proviso that his son turn himself in once located. The quest is a convoluted and often violent one with Ventura (but not exclusively) bearing the brunt of the bruises; it also brings him in contact with waitress Dickinson when the man manages to crash her car while unconscious from one such beating as well as sinister doctor Pleasence who seems to have a thing for the girlfriend of Ventura's son (who also ends up in hospital by the film's end). It all ends happily for the newly-formed family unit although, once again, father and son were on the point of breaking up again and the former gets himself slightly shot in the arm during the climactic shootout between the bad guys and the authorities.
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