Monday, 21 June 2010

Chiko - DVD Review

Its hard to imagine in the year and a half existence of this blog, this is actually my first DVD review. The much tried and tested gangster genre often contains some of my favourite films of all time, from Francis Ford Coppolla's classic The Godfather trilogy, to one of my favourite movies released this year, Jacque Audiard's beautifully envisioned A Prophet, there's simply very little to hate.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to review one of the latest entries, Chiko, directed by Özgür Yildirim (won't even pretend to know anything about him...), I seized it with much glee and delight.

Presenting itself with striking similarities to Michele Placido's Romanzo Criminale, Chiko tells the tale of two best friends - Isa (Chiko) and Tibet - with visions of grandeur, and a pure lust for power. The former decides to use his ruthless wits to catch the attention of local drug lord, Brownie. Fighting for his respect, Chiko eventually becomes Brownie's most trusted right hand man in the extremely bleak setting of Hamburg's underworld - an endless abyss of drugs, violence and prostitutes.

Some people out there, in the English speaking world, have this mundane idea in their heads that if a film is subtitled it automatically qualifies as a significantly classier product than most of the output from the UK film industry or the big bad high-budget affairs Hollywood are churning out these days. However, though Chiko is hardly a horrible film by any of the stretch, its really offers little more to the genre than any of Danny Dyer's films in recent years. Acutally if they ever decide to remake it, Dyer is undoubtedly a frontrunner for the leading role.

The central character, played by an impressive Denis Moschitto, echoed similarities to Tahar Rahim in A Prophet, minus any of his endearing humanly qualities. Chiko's best friend, Tibet, however painted a much more compelling character as he struggled with the betrayal of his closest ally, while descending into nasty drug habits and his continuing angst of looking after his diseased ridden mother.

With the first hour essentially dedicated to Chiko's inevitable rise through the mafia ranks, it's a shame the film doesn't truly start to carve out its own personality, until the final half hour, when everything starts to spiral erratically out of control.

Perhaps it was a case of poor translating on the studio's part but the dialogue was clumbersome at best. The characters seemingly chose to end every other sentence with 'dude' or 'man', which one could argue is slightly realistic, but just comes across as lazy writing. In an otherwise average affair, the technical work was at the very least competent.

Final Thoughts
Chiko is a film of empty promises and near misses. It attempts to be darkly comedic but rarely reaches the heights of Guy Ritchie's early work. It attempts to be harsh and gritty but fails to unsettle an audience in the manner Shane Meadows' effortlessly presents time and time again. It attempts to touch on more philosophical issues but frankly doesn't have the brains of Jacques Audiard behind it. It simply attempts to be smarter and more original than it actually is. Watchable but stumbles in comparison to more superior titles already out there...

Film: 2.5/5
Extras: N/A

See This If You Liked...
A Prophet, Romanzo Criminale, Dead Man's Shoes, Snatch.

Chiko is released on DVD on June 28th 2010.

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