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Directed by Yves Boisset in 1970, Un condé (or, simply, The Cop in English), starts with the killing of a man named Roger Dassa (Pierre Massimi) who, after not agreeing to sell drugs in his bar, is beaten to death by the thugs in the employ of a mobster named Tavernier, also known as ‘The Mandarin.' The main thug responsible for the murder is Georgy Beausourire (Henri Garcin) and he and his crew aren't content to just kill Roger. Once they're done with him, they track down his sister Hélène (Françoise Fabian) and beat her to death as well.
Unfortunately, for Georgy and his gang, Roger had some pretty bad-ass friends who aren't anything but furious about his murder. Enter Dan Rover (Gianni Garko) and Raymond Aulnay (Rufus), two army friends from Roger's stint in the military in Africa. They set up a plan to hire a hitman named Viletti (Michel Constantin) to eliminate Beausourire permanently, and Viletti does just that, taking out his target in an elevator rather covertly. From here, however, things get pretty intense. Some of Beausourire's bodyguards are partially hip to what's happened while two cops, Inspector Favenin (Michel Bouquet) and his associate Inspector Barnero (Bernard Fresson) are as well. In the chase the ensues, one of their men dies and Favenin finds this to be the straw that broke the camel's back.
From here, Favenin tells the Paris police Commissioner (Adolfo Celi) that he's going to deal with this and bring in the cop's killers, regardless of what he has to do to make it happen, and the Commissioner basically gives him the go ahead, with the caveat that should things go wrong if Favenin goes rogue, he'll be on his own. Michel Bouquet, however, is the real star of the show. He plays his character with a nearly psychotic obsession for revenge and he handles himself really well in both action set pieces as well as the more dramatic moments in the picture.
Directed with deliberate control over the film's pacing, Yves Boisset's picture moves along nicely and does a good job of setting things up in its first half so that in its second half, when things come tumbling down to a certain degree, the impact is there and things hit pretty hard. This isn't an exceptionally stylish film, the camera work is simple and grounded rather than flashy, but that works really well in the context of the story being told.
Performances are really strong across the board. Henri Garcin makes for a really strong choice for the villain in the movie and he does a great job playing the heavy in the picture.
Grim, gritty and both thematically and visually very dark, The Cop is nevertheless a really well-made police thriller with an emphasis on violent realism with zero regard to romanticizing or glorifying cops. That isn't to say that we don't, for the most part, side with Favenin or understand why he wants the bloody revenge he so determinedly sets out to get, but the movie doesn't necessarily glorify his actions so much as depict them in a bluntly realistic manner. And it isn't pretty. Don't go into this one expecting a feel good movie, it is very much not that, but if you appreciate realistic depictions of the extent to which people will go to for revenge, this movie should intrigue you.
Kino Lorber presents The Cop on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 that, generally, looks really good. Taking up 32GBs of space on the 50GB disc, detail is quite strong here and color reproduction feels more natural here without looking tweaked or oversaturated. The film is as grainy as you'd want it to be but not to the point of detriment and aside from a few tiny white specks here and there, you won't find much in the way of actual print damage to complain about at all. Black levels are nice and solid while skin tones look nice and natural. There isn't any evidence of any noise reduction having been applied here, nor are there any issues with edge enhancement or compression artifacts.
The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in French with optional subtitles provided in English only. This is a fairly dialogue driven film but the track handles everything well, giving things some punch when the movie calls for it and doing a very nice job with the score. No problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are balanced nicely. The subtitles are clean, clear, easy to read and free of any noticeable typos.
Extras are highlighted by a commentary track that features films historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathanial Thompson. They make some apt comparisons to various American films made around the same time that deal with similar subject matter and also go over the film's dark content and thematic elements. They also go over censorship issues and the controversy that arose by way of the film's depictions of the police as well as the source material from which the movie was adapted. Of course, there's also lots of talk here about the director's life and times as well as plenty of details on thoughts on the cast and crew in addition to covering the score and the cinematography. It's a good mix of trivia and facts as well as critical analysis, definitely worth listening to.
The disc also features a trailer for the feature as well as bonus trailers for Max And The Junkman, Un Flic, The Laughing Policeman and The Sweeney as well as menus and chapter selection. This release also comes packaged with a slipcover.
The Cop is a very well-made, tough and gritty crime thriller with some excellent direction and equally excellent performances highlighted by some truly great work from Michel Bouquet. Kino's Blu-ray release looks and sounds very good and includes an interesting commentary as its main extra feature. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.