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The Crimson Rivers
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
The Crimson Rivers order
Director:
Mathieu Kassovitz

Actors:
Jean Reno
Vincent Cassel
Nadia Fares

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A special police detective from Paris investigates a series of grizzly murders in a small mountain university town in France. With a sidekick whose hobbies include smoking weed and stealing cars, he ultimately uncovers the horrible truth behind the brutal crimes.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
France produces great cheese and some mighty tasty wine, but apparently they’re looking to start making some great movies as well. This film was an unexpected surprise that completely blew me away. From the terrifying opening scene to the mystifying ending, I can’t remember a split second where I glanced at my DVD player’s clock. Jean Reno is a perennial favorite of mine and he puts in another solid performance as a stoic cop who’s seen it all but still managed to retain his humanity. This man can act an entire scene without having to say a word. As Commissaire Pierre Niemans, he’s at his best in this mind-boggling story of evolutionary disorder. Teamed up against his will with rogue cop Max Kerkerian (Cassel), he soon realizes that the small town is in a lot more trouble than it thinks.

Aside from being one of the most visually beautiful movies I can remember, this film contains enough action, enough drama, enough brain-teasing fare and enough suspense for anyone to enjoy (not to mention some unlikely laughs). The investigation of mutilated cadavers leads the unlikely duo from one dangerous place to another as they try to piece together a story they couldn’t imagine could possibly be true. Unfortunately for them, every time they think they have the answer, they find the question to have completely changed… Young punks? Neo-Nazis? Mad scientists? They’re all on the suspect’s lists for this grisly wave of brutality…

This film was truly fantastic and hopefully will open many eyes to some great foreign films that have crossed the ocean of late. Give this to European filmmakers: they don’t dumb their films down one bit. This one is as intricate as it is engrossing and even when you’re done you probably won’t be able to really say you’ve understood the whole thing. I watched it twice in two days and I have a feeling I’ll be trying to solve more of the puzzle in the next few weeks.
THE EXTRAS
Great, great material here. You can start off with the commentary track (note: it's in French). Director Kassovitz, Reno and Cassel talk through the flick explaining the ins and outs of the shooting, but the main man on this track is Vincent Cassel, who is just a plain funny guy.

Next up is “The Investigation”, a 50-minute long documentary offering much insight into both the story and the book on which the film is based. If you remember the confusing ending I mentioned above, you’ll realize during this documentary that no one is really meant to fully grasp the story. Every player in the film participates in this most informative piece. Great to listen to right after having watched the movie, it fills in all the holes you didn’t have time to stew over. This movie is action-packed and if you lose track for a few seconds, you may never get back in line.

The documentary on the story is followed by “The Post Mortem”, a set of three shorter documentaries on the technical aspects of making this film happen. The first one is “The Corpse”, a 25-minute long featurette on the horribly mutilated cadavers you’ll find in the movie. A true testament to the model-makers, their art (and is it ever…) is exposed for what it is during this marvelous little number. “The Car Chase” takes about 10 minutes to go over the making of, you guessed it, the car chase. Pretty regular stuff but always fun if you’re into movie chases. The final little documentary is “The Mountain Sequence”, where you get to watch all the actors perform their own stunts and hang off the sides of moving glaciers…Hats off Mr. Reno, you are a fine actor, a gentleman and a fine mountaineer. This also makes you appreciate the difficulty involved in getting you those great mountain shots.

You also get a theatrical trailer, which really does make you want to watch the movie as well as some filmographies. All the above extras are in French, so if you don’t speak Molière’s language, get ready to do some extensive subtitle reading. And if you want to read more about Mr. Reno, check out the interview that JoBlo conducted with him back in the day of this film's release. Click for interview here
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I’ve never been one to like French films but this may have to make me rethink the whole thing. A truly fantastic movie packaged in a great DVD means this one’s a buy. Renting this film probably won’t let you appreciate it entirely as you may want to look it over a few times and really get into the documentaries and features offered inside. This really is a must-have for any decent DVD collection. Monsieur Reno, vous êtes fantastique!!
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