The charismatic criminal Dobermann, who got his first gun when he was christened, leads a gang of brutal robbers. After a complex and brutal bank robbery, they are being hunted by the Paris police. The hunt is led by the sadistic cop Christini, who only has one goal: to catch Dobermann at any cost.Written by
Michael Soderberg <email@example.com>
Based on a comic book, Jan Kounen's "Dobermann" is a French crime film that never shies away from taking things to the extreme. Kicking things off with a nice animated intro sequence, Jan Kounen then takes the viewer to the protagonist's (Vincent Cassel) baptism, where a darkly humorous and somewhat twisted situation occurs - I am not giving this one away. Then, Kounen fast forwards to several years later, in the midst of a heist, where you get a first glimpse at how colourful and bold the characters are going to be. Buckle up.
Dobermann's characters are, by far, its strongest asset. The whole film is a relatively classic "cops versus criminals" story, where the line between both camps is not only blurry - it becomes totally nonexistent. Cristini (Tcheky Karyo), described by his colleagues as a "nazi", is a twisted, ultraviolent, vicious police officer who's become obsessed with the Dobermann clan that keeps robbing one bank after another. Fed up with watching his colleagues clumsily fail to catch the Dobermann and his pals, he decides to take extreme measures to get the job done.
This culminates in an adrenaline-pumping, lengthy final sequence in which bodies pile up to the loud sound of Prodigy and the likes, and unfolding in some vividly demented - almost surreal - nightclub.
To give you an idea of the colorful palette of characters that awaits you, you also get the Dobermann's girlfriend, a mute, sadistic nympho; Pitbull and Moustique, two hardened criminals whose temper is quickly exposed when they play a tennis game; a priest who carries a Bible in which he hides grenades; Cristini's sidekick cop, who's just a huge fan of his boss; Sonia, a drag queen...and the list goes on.
Filled with dark humour almost from start to finish, Dobermann packs hilarious dialogue, cool aesthetics, costumes, and overall cinematography, plenty of violence which, despite never being particularly graphic, sometimes comprises very disturbing situations - again, I am not giving anything away. While the bloodletting is moderate, the inherent nature of many characters, especially Cristini, is extremely violent. In that regard, I have to say, Cristini is perhaps one of the craziest villains (yes, that's how blurry the line gets) I have ever seen in a film. Tcheky Karyo is absolutely bone-chilling in this flick.
While there isn't all that much to interpret about this film, the very last sequence almost feels like a hangover after a night of excess. And that's exactly what Dobermann is: excessive in its visuals, from the lighting to the characters' gun designs; excessive in its violence, from the characters' nature to some of the very inventive killings it puts on display; excessive in its soundtrack, with plenty of techno music playing out loud; and excessive in its direction and editing, from an amazing split-screen sequence to camera movements and shots delivering images that appear to be taken out of a comic book strip.
The pace of the film is not constantly frenetic, though. And that might be the only downside. However, trust me, the 25 final minutes of this film are complete insanity. I can understand why this is a cult favourite: it has many memorable moments, characters, all-out action and a dark sense of humour that make it unique.
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