Dobermann Review

Image for Dobermann

Criminal Dobermann received his first gun at his christening. Now, he's grown into a bank robber, who leads his gang of thugs on three heists in one day, trailed every step of the way by sadistic cop Christini.


From its title and opening sequence - in which a baby is given a huge gun as a christening present while a snapping dog invades the church and gives the kid a lifelong nickname - it's clear that this is trying to be as obnoxious as possible.

When we meet the grown-up Yann Lepentrec (Cassel), a.k.a. the Dobermann, he is carrying out a robbery in which he and his deaf sweetie Nat The Gypsy (Bellucci) blast an armoured car with enormous firepower and then humiliate the driver. With someone as unpleasant as Dobermann as the hero, the film has to come up with a truly hateful villain and so we get sadistic, near-genocidal Paris cop Sauveur Christini (Karyo).

The plot, which might have stretched to an Itchy And Scratchy cartoon, has Dobermann and his gang - a band of psychos, grungy gypsies and a glam transvestite - heist three banks on the same street in the same afternoon. However, Christini tags along, letting things get out of hand so he can have a bloodbath in a techno club in which lots of people get blown away to flashing lights and bad music.

Dutch director Jan Kounen clearly wants to go the Luc Besson route, modelling his work not on European forms but imitating the Hollywood action movie (he must have seen Heat more times than is good for his video player) and Hong Kong "heroic bloodshed" films. The only sustained dialogue scene has Christini invading the middle-class home of the young law student who lives a double life with Dobermann's gang and terrorising everyone until the gang groupie agrees to turn traitor. Otherwise, it's a headachy succession of distorted shots down the length of gun barrels, flashy bits of high-tech weaponry deployed to break the law, cynical asides about the rottenness of everyone, car chases, hold-ups, drug orgies, shitting and club fashion posing.

It's got energy in buckets but no heart at all, suffers from Cassel's uncharismatic presence in the lead and is so loud it's no wonder the leading lady is deaf. More annoying than anything else.