In the underbelly of the Parisian criminal world, the Police are frustrated by a gang committing a series of violent robberies. Leo Vrinks and Denis Klein are two cops seeking promotion, ...
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In the underbelly of the Parisian criminal world, the Police are frustrated by a gang committing a series of violent robberies. Leo Vrinks and Denis Klein are two cops seeking promotion, and the imminent departure of the Chief sets the scene for them to compete for the vacant throne. The competition between them becomes increasingly ruthless and blurs the usual lines of morality, until there seems no difference between the police and the criminals they chase. Vrinks, meeting with a source, becomes involved with a murder. Klein seizes the opportunity to up the ante and arranges for the arrest of Vrinks, but when he goes further and viciously involves Vrinks' wife, Camille, revenge is inevitable. Written by
Cop turned director is a new one on me but there's always a first time I guess. One thing's sure Marchal has a lot of balls in titling his film as he has and so inviting direct comparison with the only other film to employ as its title the address of the Police headquarters in Paris, Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1947 classic called simply Quai des orfevres without the number which is superfluous. Clouzot's movie is well over 50 years old and featured a more sedate form of detection - Louis Jouvet was not exactly Monsieur Hard Man and, like the man said, the times they are a changing. Marchal, who began taking acting lessons when he was still a cop (so that's how they perfect the good cop/bad cop routine) and went on to play in several TV crime series, has based his story on a real situation, the internicine rivalry in the eighties between the BRI and the BRB, both working out of the Quai. Co-scriptwriter Dominique Loiseau was a player and this is partly his story. The film is dominated by two lions in winter, Gerard Depardieu and Daniel Auteuil recalling Duke Wayne and Bob Mitchum in El Dorado, two ageing pros if not yet over the hill certainly at the summit, so these two craggy bears, polar bears if you will, polar being the French name for gangster/caper/crime films, light up the screen no question about it as the respective heads of the BRB (Brigade de Repression du Banditisme, that's Major Heists to you and me) and BRI (Brigade de Recherche et d'Intervention (we're Gangbusters, Man). There's a history between these two, we're never QUITE told the full story which is a masterstroke, but it involves Vrink's (Auteuil) wife, who may have once been Klein's (Depardieu) girl. To sweeten the pot Mancini (Andre Dussollier) head honcho announces his retirement leaving his job up for grabs; both are equally qualified but it's an open secret that the first guy to nail a particularly violent gang will become the new chief. Auteuil is our Dirty Harry kind of cop, often worse than the villains he's after but he DOES usually get them in the end, Depardieu is a tad choosier but not TOO good to live. To say more wouldn't really add much, I found myself a little intrigued by the long, black leather coats worn by both Brigades, resembling nothing so much as the outfit of choice of the Stasi in East Germany and I HOPE this is an oblique comment on the fact that (England at least) is slowly becoming a Police state. All in all an enjoyable romp and well worth 8 stars.
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