Dvd let­ter­box

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey

THE strength of tele­vi­sion drama isn’t con­fined to Aus­tralia and US pay-TV.

Euro­pean tele­vi­sion, par­tic­u­larly in Scan­di­navia, is a hot­bed of bril­liant stuff at the moment. Of course, we’ve all sam­pled the Swedish cop drama The Killing, which has led many to taste more Euro­pean tele­vi­sion.

Two fam­i­lies I stayed with dur­ing the sum­mer break had DVDs of the Dan­ish po­lit­i­cal drama Bor­gen sit­ting on their cof­fee ta­bles, for in­stance. That may say more about my pre­ten­tious friends than the cul­tural per­va­sive­ness of Scan­di­navia, of course, even if this week The Econ­o­mist noted: ‘‘One of the world’s bland­est re­gions has be­come one of its most cre­ative.’’

And if we’re not see­ing Euro­pean tele­vi­sion in the orig­i­nal ver­sion, we’ll see the US re­makes (the pro­ducer of Home­land — it­self a re­jig of Is­rael’s Hatu­fim / Pris­on­ers of War — is work­ing on a re­make of Scan­di­na­vian crime se­ries The Bridge, this time set on the Tex­as­Mex­ico bor­der).

Ac­cess has changed dra­mat­i­cally. Who would have imag­ined five years ago we could see the crack­ing new Ital­ian mafia se­ries drama Ro­manzo Criminale on sub­scrip­tion tele­vi­sion? (It be­gins on Show­case next week.)

Ev­ery­one’s bang­ing on about the mer­its of Amer­i­can pay-TV, but we’re liv­ing in a time of rich global TV con­tent.

I wouldn’t dis­miss TV with sub­ti­tles at the moment. And I would be work­ing harder at SBS to pro­gram one or two nights a week as solid for­eign TV drama sched­ules (although I ap­pre­ci­ate the com­mer­cial con­straints).

One such pro­gram re­leased on DVD this week is Braquo (se­ries two), a mus­cu­lar po­lice drama from France.

France is not shy about mak­ing bruis­ing cop and crime films. Ac­tu­ally, that coun­try’s not shy about mak­ing any­thing.

But I’ve par­tic­u­larly en­joyed films such as 36 Quai des Or­fevres, Mes­rine: Pub­lic En­emy #1, A Prophet and even the slightly bloated The Crim­son Rivers.

Braquo is cre­ated by former flic, or cop, Olivier Mar­chal, an ac­tor who has be­come some­thing of an ex­pert in crime drama. He has di­rected some (in­clud­ing 36 Quai des Or­fevres, Mr 73 and Gang­sters) and writ­ten many.

The two char­ac­ter­is­tics bind­ing all French crime and cop dra­mas are that they are un­com­pro­mis­ing and hu­mour­less.

That’s not such a bad thing, par­tic­u­larly in Braquo, which doesn’t out­stay its wel­come in its two eight- episode se­ries. Braquo (sea­sons one and two avail­able, MA15+, Be­yond, 337min, $36.99) isn’t your tra­di­tional pro­ce­dural drama ei­ther. Much of the ac­tion — and it is largely all ac­tion — turns on the cor­rup­tion and malfea­sance of the high-strung, four-per­son po­lice team led by Eddy Ca­plan (played by Jean-Hugues Anglade, bet­ter known as Betty’s lover in the film Betty Blue), not so much the crimes them­selves.

Braquo is very vi­o­lent and very good. My only qualm is it’s an­other slab of wor­thy in­ter­na­tional tele­vi­sion I must find time for.

This week

(MA15+) Trans­mis­sion (109min, $34.95)

(M) Mad­man (97min, $29.99)

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