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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

high wire act

Author: RanchoTuVu from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
29 July 2005

A small time ex-con (Phillipe Leotard as Dede) and his prostitute girlfriend Nicole (Nathalie Baye) are relentlessly pressured by an aggressive and at time brutal police squad led by Mathias Palouzi (Richard Berry) to inform on the mob. Using any means necessary, playing one off against the other, humiliation, beatings, or threats, the couple is forced to become informants on underworld leader Roger Massina (Maurice Ronet). The love story is at the heart of the film, while the cops and crooks make up opposite ends, though they often employ similar means. Berry seems to flourish in the middle, beating up on Dede while playing a little softer with his girlfriend Nicole. A fast pace takes us whizzing through some great Paris locations, through a stagey looking though fairly impressive shootout on a crowded street, and several seedy dead end alleyways. Many of the underworld characterizations are terrific, and the classy soundtrack (especially the ending) is perfect for the mood.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Top Movie

Author: steve_b33 from London
14 November 2001

Watched this last night - a belting French Cops and Robbers drama set among the Paris version of the flying squad. It opens with their main informant being murdered and they need replacement to get Mr Big.

They lean on a Dede (Philippe Léotard) a small time crook and pimp and his whore/girlfriend(Nathalie Baye) to persuade them to snitch on Messina.

They use threats,beatings - in fact anything to get a result. The cops are played in a very unsympathetic light - the're really thugs who bend the law to suit their ends.

Interestingly both Dede and Nicole are are much more attractive characters - he's her pimp but he loves her as she loves him. You really care about them as they are exploited by the cops who don't care what happens to them as long as they get their villian. There are car chases and shoot-outs aplenty but its the central relationship that lifts this above your average cop movie.

All the leads are well played and you hope things will work out for Dede and Nicloe but you know life isn't like that.

Not an obvious ending either and directed with an intesity by Bob Swaim who films it almost as a documentry so real is the gritty feel of the Parisian undwerworld.

Highly reccomended.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Thriller With Gallic Style

Author: Kevin from Essex, England
13 November 2001

I can't believe that this movie has no comments and hardly any votes. It's a tough 1982 thriller set in Paris' Algerian sector. A specialist Police Unit pressurise a pimp and his hooker into becoming informants to enable them to bring down a local gangster. Although directed by an American (spot the U.S. film posters at the Police Station), the film is full of French style. The clothes, the food, the shades... The pacing is fast, the plot is good and the characters are fascinating. Baye is incredibly sexy as the 'tart with a heart' and Leotard looks suitably seedy as the pimp in love with her. It's a strange relationship, letting your lover have sex with strangers in order to put money in the joint account! I also like the way that the cops, who arrest and harass hookers, are shown to be willing to use their services on lonely nights. Pace, excitement, black humour and romance. What more can one ask from a thriller? 8/10

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Dirty, Gritty, Seamy Paris

Author: cestmoi from United States
18 April 2004

What a nifty top of the B-film heap is this gritty Paris film, complete with love stories going bad, habits going strong, and cars going fast. Leotard has one of the great faces in the world and Nathalie Baye (in this outing new to me on release date) is just spectacularly vulnerable and perhaps a bit duplicitous. I would definitely make this part of my French film library. The film's co-director is from Evanston, Illinois! Bob Swaim has written films and directed them, mostly in France, and obviously learned his B-films on Saturdays with the rest of us and his France by living in it for a long time.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:


Author: francodomenico from Hollywood, Florida
11 June 2003

The psychological techniques of the Chief Inspector Palouzi(Richard Berry)and his sometimes cruel, but equally compassionate portrayal of a decent human being, "just doing his job" was quite well done--Hat's off to Bob Swain--Chicago's own! Berry-himself of French-Algerian decent, is very smooth; and his mature attitude--not arrogance--is what pulls him though. The Acting by Nathalie Baye and the late Philippe Leotard was also excellent. Some of the chases and Arrests were Hokey-but, the Overwhelming theme here is the true devotion of a Woman(Baye) to her Man(Leotard). We need more stories about devotion to People, rather than Devotion to careers or even countries-- No displaced loyalties here--Baye's acting was superb, and I am married to a very devoted woman, so I identify with her loyalty to "Dede"!

Does anyone Know what Richard Barry(Benguigui) is doing these days? He is a fine actor. Bon Chance to all! Try and see this one, if you haven't already seen it.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

NOT a movie for the kids but an excellent film nevertheless

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
28 August 2005

I had a tough time giving this an 8 or a 9--it was very close. I finally decided on a 9 because the last 15 minutes of the film are about the most tense and riveting I have ever seen--talk about a suspenseful and satisfying ending! So, what is this movie like? Well, it is a lot like a better written and more interesting episode of "Miami Vice"--complete with blaring early 80s music, living-among-the-scum cops and LOTS of realistic violence. This is definitely NOT a film for the kids, as it is way too sleazy and intense--with hard-core violence, language and sex scenes. While this USUALLY turns me off, it was done so well that I could not stop watching--plus the level of realism seemed very high as the cops, like the bad guys, were prone to screw-ups. And you have to watch it just to see the police chase scene--it's amazing.

FYI--Although I don't know if it was intended, this movie seems to be a reworking of the movie "Kiss of Death"--a great American film noir film.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Violent and gripping

Author: IndustriousAngel from Austria
9 September 2013

Maybe I was a bit young (15 I think) when I first saw this, in a french cinema without subtitles so I didn't even understand that much - but it left a strong impression and when I rewatched it a few years later with a more critical eye, it was still a very strong movie. There are more violent thrillers out there, but in the case of "La Balance", it's unsettling because you care for those people. I guess it's got something to do with the cast, it's a bunch of character faces you won't forget, especially Philippe Léotard. So, in contrast to many other thrillers, the violence in "La Balance" is never fun to watch - those are scenes where you'd like to close your eyes (which is the best way to portrait violence, in my opinion, if you don't happen to make an action comedy). Highly recommended!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

More than just a French Dirty Harry

Author: carcarri from Montevideo, Uruguay
27 January 2011

Somewhat in the tradition of literary realism, this is a police story with much drama and a hint of tragedy. When the determined police officer Palouzi (Berry)decides to get the mob boss in his district by replacing a blown up informer, his choice is a hooker, Nicole (N. Baye) and her pimp, Dédé (P. Léotard). Both are rather humane, likable and loyal to each other. Perhaps a bit of a cliché in the character Nicole. Palouzi will put ruthless pressure on them to get their reluctant collaboration. Given this scenario, things will be necessarily difficult for them. Very good performances of Berry, Baye and Léotard, and some violence scenes well staged and played. Interesting denouement with somewhat ambiguous (to me) ending. The character of the efficient, driven and street-wise officer Palouzi has interest and psychological depth. Maybe he will be devious and tough to make Nicole and Dédé to play his game, but also maybe he will try to keep them out of harm's way, if possible. In sum, no clear-cut heroes and villains, good story and script, good actors, intense action, credible ambiance, with some interesting characters.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

at times silly, at times boring

Author: christopher-underwood from United Kingdom
16 January 2007

Gritty, nasty, overlong, at times silly, at times boring and very very over rated. If you want plenty of action with love interest, then the US turns them out all the time and if you want sex and violence, then for this sort of movie, Italy is where you should head. This seems to be stuck in the middle, lots of horrible guys doing nasty things to each other and scenes of 'true love', I don't think so, trust the French! The setting on the mucky streets of Belleville, now much cleaned up, is fine but when you set up a virtually plot less movie, it just to have a bit of style, that little bit of something to keep you interested. This moves so fast at the start that it looks as if all is going to be well but somewhere around half way it dawns that the film is going to carry on like this all the time.

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Classic French bad-cop bad-cop thriller

Author: charles-paxton-martin from Spain
18 July 2017

One of the great French bad-cop bad-cop thrillers, which I remember vividly from years ago. I love that the supposed criminals were so well characterized, not like today's shoot-em-ups. Recommended, and I will buy it again, if it has subtitles. (I speak French, but it's sort of rusty, and the fascinating Parisian slang can be hard to follow.)

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