The Debt (Dlug) is a Polish film, based on true facts, about money matters gone horribly wrong between a mean Russian mobster and the average Joes who get mixed up with him. You know…all the usual suspects.
Stefan (Jacek Borcuch) and Adam (Robert Gonera) have big dreams of starting a business importing Italian scooters (hey, if scooters are part of the true facts, then I guess it'll have to do for this psychological thriller). Problem is, they have no money to invest. Along comes wealthy Gerard (Andrzej Chyra), and things begin looking up for the young entrepreneurs. But it's not long before Stefan and Adam realize they're getting a raw deal with Gerard, so they back out. Unfortunately, Gerard is a Russian mobster, and he doesn't like it when his buddies back out of a deal and he loses out on money…so he begins to terrorize the two men to get his money, and a heck of a lot of interest along with it.
I tried to stay focused through the beginning of this movie about guys looking to get into the scooter business, and dealing with their girlfriends, and just when I was getting bored by the lackluster enthusiasm of the characters, it seemed like the tension was about to start with a pretty brutal scene that would make even Quentin Tarantino perk up. Things went along good for awhile—Gerard had some pretty scary looking thugs on his side as he "invited" Stefan or Adam into his car and told them how much money they now owed him after interest calculations, and what would happen if they didn't pay it. But then he did the same thing again. And again. And again. And Stefan and Adam most often came across as pestered, not terrified. I was never on the edge of my seat. Gerard targeted their girlfriends, including Adam's pregnant girlfriend in the hospital. But none of these threats ever really panned out or made the tension mount. There was just something missing from this movie. Gerard was constantly threatening the two men, but if one of his thugs touched either of the men, he would tell them not to hurt the guy. He just never seemed all that sinister. Maybe because he reminded me of Dan Castellaneta? I don't know.
Despite the lack of emotion from law-abiding citizens Adam and Stefan, they are suddenly pushed over the edge and decide to take revenge. Isn't that the way it always works in these types of movies? Well, there's a slight twist in this movie that we're set up for in the opening moment, but we've seen so many of these types of twists at this point that I don't know that you'll be totally blown away by it. You'll probably feel the way I did about this film…a pretty obvious try at a genre of thriller that quickly became a cliché in the 90s.
The DVD case lists this movie simply as "widescreen," but even with a 16x9 television, you'll see black bars on top and bottom. The film suffers from some specks & wear. The picture itself is bland, blurry, and has a pasty white overexposed look to it, but that may be a result of the source material. As for anomalies, in one scene, there was a thin blue line running straight down the center of the screen. But that's nothing compared to the black hole that flashed on screen several times throughout the movie…and on my 34" widescreen TV, it measured about 4 inches in diameter, just to give you an idea of how big it was. Looked like someone had shot a rocket into my television.
TLA usually comes through with their Dolby 2.0 stereo sound, and this DVD is no exception. The left/right channel separation is excellent, and the bass offers some room quaking moments.
There's not much to speak of here. The movie is in Polish with English subtitles, with no option to turn off the subtitles. The only extras are 4 International Film Festival movie trailers, along with a short paragraph describing the festival.
Polish film The Debt (Dlug) is clearly influenced by the Tarantino type of hard-edged thriller that ran rampant in the 90s. This one centers around two entrepreneurs who choose a bad business partner, and soon find their lives being torn apart by the criminal. At least, that was the idea. It never comes across that way. The film lacks tension, the characters lack depth, and the twist doesn't twist tight enough. The DVD itself has nothing more than trailers as extras. 2-channel stereo is excellent, image is not terrible, but not stunning either. Unless you think this film is a masterpiece, you might just want to rent it.