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It should have been published outside Bulgaria

7/10
Author: pontram from Austria
28 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a nice Bulgarian action flick with intense and deeper moments. Acting and atmosphere are above average, the plot is common but sometimes unusual. The intriguing title song "Jarost" is composed by a Bulgarian rock musician named Stenli (on his album "Obseven"). The movie is a TV production but obviously made with care and enthusiasm. The actors are very good and the characters well represented. There are some clichés in storyline and characters, but this is not really a lack. The movie claims to have an insight into Bulgarian crime scene after downfall of Communism, and all what I heard it's not a bit exaggerated. The (real) Bulgarian local color is also very realistic and intense photographed. There is also a lot of social criticism in the movie, especially about how the carelessness of the society allows the criminals to control her. In the early 2000's Bulgaria was suffering from the growing criminality, and today, as a member of the EU, it's hardly better. The difference is, that there were people and money to express their anxiety with the state, and today both are no more available.

Here is the complete synopsis, which will take all the lots of tension the movie has for you - so don't read it if you have any chance to see it:

In the beginning there is a rape scene where we are shown how women are handled in this sub-society, what they are worth for those men. After that, this world breaks into the life of a normal citizen, named Wanko, in a situation which is possible every day there - the encounter of two cars in a partially devastated street which is too small for both, so the weaker car or the car of the weaker owner must retreat. But here it got stuck in a hole (in Bulgaria well known as a "dubka"), so it can't. The stronger vehicle is a typical Mafiosi car, where the brutal boss is sitting and waiting bored for the citizen doing his duty. If you are in Bulgaria in this situation, don't do what Wanko now does (and where the drama begins):

He decides to leave his old Volkswagen, throws the key away and flees; after the villain's gang fails to catch him, they hit his car with iron sticks. While they are busy, Wanko comes back and steals the big and expensive Mafiosi car. Note that in Bulgaria the most valued expression of manhood is the car. In this car there is one of the Mafioso's brides hidden, Elena, the one who was raped before, and when the Police stops them, she fakes pains, so that the police escorts them to the next hospital instead of controlling. In the hospital the gang arrives in search for the car, maybe led by their good police contacts. Wanko and Elena escape and he brings her to his home.

At this point the hunt/love story is fully opened. Wanko certainly falls in love with Elena, who is a prostitute, he mediates a normal labor to her, takes back his devastated car from the street, and brings it to a friend to repair. But the gang will not let them live a normal life. The friend, a mechanist, is killed, and Elena returns to her boss. Wanko is caught by the gang, but the arrival of the police disturbs their revenge, so he survives. After this we learn how the Mafioso's little empire runs, with drugs and prostitution and girl trafficking. They are so good connected to the police that they are practically invulnerable. Elena dedicates her to the boss in return for Wankos life, and the boss marks her with a knife.

But Wanko won't give up, he observes the gang and leads the police to a house where women are imprisoned as sex slaves. The police and their leading detective, who became a kind of friend to Wanko, then goes under his assistance to the discotheque where the boss has his headquarters (and where the movie began). After a gunfight between the police and the gang, the boss arrives, showing carefully no intension to fight. He is suddenly called by phone, but the call is for the detective. He is told by his captain to break up the operation and to leave the boss free. So the direct connection between police and criminals is evident. This whole scene is very intense, showing the great potential of the actors; also releasing the high tension into a triumph of the bad is well done.

Later, disillusioned Wanko meets the face-bruised Elena on the street-walkers patch, where she is doing her job. After a sad talk in a café he brings her back to her working place, where she is hit by a pimp, for meeting with Wanko. Wanko sees this from his car, fights the pimp and brings her to the hospital, but she's already dead by her inner injuries. The doctor's comments and lack of interest shows a further facet of Bulgarias current state. Now Wanko is in great rage (yarost). He goes to the Bosse's headquarters and shoots him down. Then he holds the gun toward his own head but decides to live. The last scene Wanko is driving away with his Volkswagen, with the dead body of Elena beside, which allusively comes to life with Wanko's last kiss (!).

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