Black on Blu-ray and DVD

Monday, 14 February 2011 12:31

“Black” is a plucky French action movie from first-time director Pierre Laffargue. If you imagine a bizarre blend of the guns, gangs and swaggering humour from “Lock Stock”, crossed with a dash of freaky tribal voodoo, you will have a vague grasp of what this film is about. It starts as a straight heist story set in Paris but veers wildly onto the rough (and into Senegal) towards the end. MC Jean Gab’1 (“District 13” I and II) is Black, a seasoned bank robber with a bit of a lucky streak.

As the movie opens, he and his crew are taking down a security van. The job goes horribly wrong when armed police turn up, and Black is the only survivor. Suffering from guilt-ridden nightmares, our anti-hero’s prospects improve when his cousin calls from Dakar with news of the job to end all jobs - 3KG of uncut diamonds! As security at the African bank concerned is notoriously poor, and the job offers a way to escape the heat of the bungled van heist, Black departs from Paris immediately. 

Black comes to Blu-ray and DVDHe assembles a new crew with his cousin’s help, and they plan the job. Unfortunately for them, several other parties also want a part of the action, unbeknownst to each other. They include a slimy local arms dealer with a strange skin affliction called Degrand (François Levantal), Colonel Ouliakov (Anton Yakovlev) - a trigger happy, military hardcase with an army of mercenaries at his disposal, as well as the new and former managers of the bank itself. Pamela (Carole Karemera) is the new manager, and it quickly becomes apparent that she has ulterior motives for working at the bank.

Thrown into this fairly traditional-sounding mix is the aforementioned black magic mumbo-jumbo. Black has several encounters with an old shaman who spouts indecipherable nonsense about the robber being a lion who will slay a snake, but only with the help of a panther. Initially dismissive, Black starts having dreams about the prophecy, and begins to wonder whether it might have some bearing on his current mission after all. Suffice to say that it does, though the film’s only serious failing hinges on the rather disjointed way that the two aspects of the story fit together.

The final quarter of the narrative feels like it does not belong on the same DVD, but rather in an episode of a supernatural TV show like The Gates or True Blood.

In its favour, “Black” features lots of exciting and often tense gunplay, plenty of ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ plotting and a cast of very colourful characters who inject the film with plenty of energy and humour. MC Jean Gab’1 is certainly up to the task of leading the movie, bristling as he is with confidence and macho charisma, and his co-stars also do a fine job of keeping it bouncing along.

Despite the final act’s best efforts to derail the whole enterprise, “Black” is a very competent action movie that deserves serious consideration next time you pay your local DVD rental outfit a visit.

The only extra on either version of the film is a teaser trailer which doesn’t give much away, or sell the film particularly well!

“Black” (2009) is out now, courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 106 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99 on DVD, £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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