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This film about A West German boy becoming acquainted with racism and nationalism when his family relocates to the East, I think is largely unknown outside of Germany. This is unfortunate, as "Kombat Sechzehn" is really a fine film, that possesses some powerful imagery and a unique style, as well as a positive message. 16 year-old Georg is forced to leave his home in the West, which means saying goodbye to his two loves; his girlfriend, and his Taekwondo team, something that is all-important to him. Now living in Cottbus, an economically depressed place where the people are not too fond of things like American culture and foreigners living in their country, Georg soon falls in with a group of angry mates. Together the group delves further into a nationalist way of thinking, and soon they are shaving their heads, ( in a delirious scene featuring drinking, bleeding and group-vomiting in a rainstorm to the tune of a nationalist anthem), and becoming a skinhead gang. This film deals especially well with it's timeless subjects of loyalty and friendship, and male bonding through violence and alcohol. Georg develops a particularly strong friendship with Thomas, an angry, intelligent kid. By the films end, Thomas and Georg have taught each other some important life lessons, about both physical and inner strength, and about self respect, as they grow out of the gang mentality and learn to think for themselves. The film has a certain right wing feel to it, so skinheads and nationalists should get a kick out of this. The song at the films end is performed by 'Boehse Onkelz', a German band that has never totally succeeded in distancing itself from the Nazi scene which they were involved with long ago. "Kombat Sechzehn" features some impressive, professional looking fight sequences, as well as a memorable soundtrack. And the acting, particularly that of Ludwig Trepte as the right wing radikal Thomas, is quite impressive. It might be difficult to find this film outside of Germany, but for those interested in the skinhead scene, or the current situation in Germany, this is worth tracking down.
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