When a police informer (a 'balance') is murdered in a tough area of Paris, the cops - looking for a replacement - put the squeeze on a local racketeer, Dede (Leotard) and his prostitute girlfriend. They are aware that Dede is out of favour with his mob bosses, and will exploit the situation any way they can.
With its gritty, street-level feel and warts-and-all, anti-heroic cop characters, there are obvious comparisons between Bob Swaim's film and The French Connection. But while celebrated at the time for its realism, this sporadically violent tale of a Parisian plain-clothes unit's exploitation of a pair of informers doesn't pass the test of time as well as Friedkin's movie, trapped somewhat by its very early-'80s stylistics.
WHat do hold up well are the performances. Shot in the - now typical, but then not so - verite style, Leotard and Baye are believable as the pair caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, and the cops - coming across like a particularly rotten branch of The Sweeney, are a reminder of the bad old days.
It's as tough and gritty as it needs to be, but is hamstrung somewhat by its '80s-ness.