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Why Dont You Just Die! (Papa, sdokhni)
The rare Russian export that made it to our shores, Why Don't You Just Die! is a dark, bloody comedy by writer/director Kirill Sokolov, who makes his feature-length debut here. Although portions of the film emulate American filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and even British director Guy Ritchie, the film is still distinctly Russian. Primarily set in the small confines of a Moscow apartment, Why Don't You Just Die! sees Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) arrive at the apartment of corrupt Police Official Andrey Gennadievitch (Vitaliy Khaev) and his wife, Tasha (Elena Shevchenko). Matvey is there because his girlfriend Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde) has asked him to kill the man, who is her father. She claims he sexually abused her as a child and continues to physically and verbally abuse her and those around him. So Matvey, armed with a hammer, finds the apartment building and heads to the door, almost arousing the suspicions of a neighbor. Things go quickly awry when Tasha, who is supposed to be out of town, reveals herself, and Andrey quickly realizes Matvey is not there to have tea.
Sokolov shoots scenes of stylized violence, some of which are as funny as those in 2004 Hong Kong import Kung Fu Hustle. Chairs explode, bodies fly across the room and walls collapse under a barrage of gunfire. After an initial confrontation between he and Matvey, Andrey manages to lock the younger man in a bathroom, with his own plans for revenge. The showdown continues when Matvey is freed from the bathroom, and several other supporting characters arrive at the apartment. The plot is fairly simple and straightforward. We do not know much about the characters as the film begins, but a series of flashbacks reveal Andrey's corruption, Matvey and Olya's relationship, and other key details. Matvey and Andrey take turns gaining the upper hand, and the film reveals that each man is quite hard to kill. A variety of increasingly crazy weapons are used by each man, and there are some graphic moments and stylized brutality.
The acting here is quite good, though much of the film lacks expansive dialogue. Long-suffering mother Tasha is given some powerful scenes, and I would have liked a flashback revealing her character's motivations. The flashbacks, including a relevant tutorial on how to break out of handcuffs, are frequent, but Sokolov manages to keep the main narrative moving forward. These flashbacks are often used to inject humor amid the violence, and, for the most part, they work. These are not particularly likeable characters, none more so than Andrey, and it is revealed that he betrays many people close to him. The apartment setting is used to great effect, and Sokolov spirals and spins the camera in the tight confines to provide some unique shots. Also impressive are the cinematography and stunt work. Why Don't You Just Die! is an unexpectedly entertaining dark comedy and thriller that I may not have experienced if I did not write for this web site. Genre fans will want to give it a spin.
Released in the United States courtesy of Arrow Video, Why Don't You Just Die! receives a pleasing 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. The apartment setting is full of excellent detail and texture, and viewers will begin to notice all of the excellent production-design touches during the film. The colors are quite bold and nicely saturated, and shadow detail is strong. It appears digital grain has been added to the film, but the overall appearance is gritty, consistent and appropriate for the content. Contrast and skin tones appear accurate, and I noticed no issues of sharpening or noise reduction.
The soundtrack is presented in Russian 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio or Russian 2.0 LPCM, with optional English subtitles. I listened to the surround mix, which is very dynamic and immersive. There's lots of mayhem throughout this film, and the surround speakers and LFE are used extensively. Gunfire ricochets across the sound field, splintering wood shatters behind viewers, and the sound design is quite dimensional. Dialogue and score are appropriately layered, and I noticed no issues with crowding or distortion.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This single-disc release arrives in a slightly thick clear case. The artwork is two-sided, and the included booklet offers an essay, stills and technical information. Bonus materials include Why Can't You Just Leave? (25:32/HD), in which film critic Kim Newman discusses the movie; Behind the Scenes (27:18/HD), with on-set footage; Short Films (53:52 total/HD), which are three other films by Sokolov; and the Theatrical Trailer (1:24/HD).
Entertaining Russian import Why Don't You Just Die! offers stylized violence and action, and plenty of dark comedy. Fans of Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie and other genre filmmakers will enjoy this movie, which is gifted a nice U.S. release from Arrow Video. Highly Recommended.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.