AW Kautzer's Home Video Home Video/Streaming

Blu-Ray Review: Kino Lorber’s Kamikaze (KL Studio Classics) 


Co-written and Produced by Luc Besson, Kamikaze is a truly deranged piece of genre cinema.  Part Videodrome, part Network, all Besson.  New to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber

The Film 

I still remember the first time I saw La Femme Nakita.  It was a punk rock jolt to my system.  Luc Besson’s stylish Action film wasn’t the last of the director’s patented brand of specific Euro Cult-inspired genre films.  Not just his directorial efforts but the ones he produced.  

Kamikaze is until recently a film I heard nothing of.  I went into the film blind with only the description provided by Kino and the knowledge it was produced by Besson.  I was both surprised and delighted to realize that though there are some of Besson’s touches it is an altogether different film that would have ever been made by Besson.  Director Didier Grousset has created as much of a sharp satire about our media consumption as well as a police procedural. 

Genius enfant terrible Albert (Michel Galabru) is made redundant at work.  At home, his giddy and in-love niece and nephew (in-law) are preparing for a holiday.  Albert is left at home to his own devices with his anger and self-loathing.  That anger and self-loathing turn into a darkly brilliant realization that he could kill those on the TV that he hates so much.  Creating the weapon in a matter of days he begins to murder various TV hosts with a maniacal glee.  Enter Romain Pascot (Richard Bohringer) the police detective that instantly feels like something is wrong when everyone thinks it is routine.  Pascot begins to hunt a killer that kills with no weapon.  Can Pascot figure out the mystery and catch Albert before he kills again.  

The brilliance of Kamikaze isn’t its beautiful widescreen photography, or its cool score by Eric Serra, or even its hardboiled disaffected performance by Bohringer.  The film understands adroitly the notion that disaffection breeds contemptuous and radical behavior.  It’s that notion and playing with the entitlement of brilliance and intelligent lazy men.  How quickly that turns not towards those that have fired them but towards women and others that have nothing to do with their problems.  That kind of accurate pathology elevates Kamikaze from a simple genre affair to some more socially critical. 

The film is aided by its dual performances by Bohringer and Galabru. On one hand, you have Bohringer who’s as cool as a French police officer without being a cliché that’s ever graced the screen.  On the other hand, you have Galabru as the sweaty, angry, protean intelligence that is the very definition that idle hands are the devil’s playthings. They are two sides of the same coin ala Batman and Joker. Though the two only share a single scene in the entire film, their work is so accomplished and good that the connection between these two adversaries will make one think they’re together more than they really are.

Kamikaze is the kind of rich, intelligent, and truly deranged piece of Euro Cult Genre goodness that could have only come from Luc Besson.  

The Transfer

The transfer provided to Kino Lorber is as beautifully slick as the film’s photography by Jean-François Robin.  The sharp handsome image is a showcase for the deep blacks and contrast levels.  The image is in a word dense.  Dense like a chocolate cake which makes the color spectrum be a bit darker and more luminous.  As a whole the image is as unique a transfer as I’ve seen in recent memory.  

The Extras

They include the following;

  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian Eddy Von Mueller
  • Au coeur du cinéma: Interview with Director Didier Grousset 
  • Objectif Kamikaze: Documentary 
  • Theatrical Trailer

This all-new Audio Commentary by Film Historian Eddy Von Mueller begins with loving not just this film but films from the 1980s.  Some of the details include a discussion of how European Cinema would change after the Cold War – and this film was a prime example of; the films of corporate oppression and corporate culture – giving examples like Wall StreetThe Secret of My Success or even Robocop; a discussion about the work Luc Besson – as a director, as a producer and the success of his films and what it meant for European, French, and World cinema as a whole; a discussion of global expansion of Television and how this is critiqued in Kamikaze; the accurate parallel through like to today’s disaffected white males in America; the violence – and its use – in the film; the way the film was developed, produced, and released in Europe; a side discussion about the history of Gaumont – and when the film was released at the time and the political landscape at the time of Kamikaze was released; the way that thematically the various characters aligns with people politically; a larger discussion of the work of actor Richard Bohringer and his work in the 1980s specifically with the film movement Cinema du look; the direction of the film by Grousset – how it diverges from say Besson’s directorial style; the score by Eric Serra – and his history with Luc Besson as his composer of chose; a larger conversation of the Cinema du look; a discussion through out of the various actors, and behind the scenes artisans that brought the movie together – and very detailed accounts of their work here and elsewhere; and much more.  Von Mueller’s commentary track is a deep dive into the production of Kamikaze and the entire Filmography of Luc Besson and the various film moments and ideas that were at work during the era.  

Au coeur du cinéma: Interview with Director Didier Grousset (25:37) – in this all-new interview with Grousset he begins with how he got into the industry via playing Rugby.  Some of the details include his first job working as a PA on Bobo Jacco; meeting Luc Besson – and his first project with Besson his debut feature The Last Battle; how that collaboration bore out Besson “producing” and “writing” and Grousset directing Kamikaze all the while Besson was directing Subway; an issue with screenplay credit and why Grousset at Besson’s insistence got credit; the differences in approach if Besson had directed; the end result of a film; the reception of the film; working with Bohringer and Galabru; and much more.  In lieu of a commentary track from Grousset, his long-form interview is a fantastic look at the making of the film.  In French with English Subtitles. 

Objectif Kamikaze: Documentary (34:04) –this archival making-of shot-on-16mm for Television is a bit of brilliance looking at the making of the film.  The featurette is similar to the type of “making-of” TV specials that Lucas and Spielberg used to produce in the 1980s for things like Raiders or ET, or the most infamous of them all Star Wars To Jedi.  A combination of on-set interviews with cast and crew and B-Roll footage from the production was edited beautifully together to give one a look at this production at a level that few major American productions at the time didn’t get.  Not just fluffy EPK situations, the fly-on-the-wall moments of actors prepping, and the work behind done by the director and crews are fascinating.  Featuring comments by Besson, Grousset, Bohringer, Galabru, and others. In French with English subtitles. 

Rounding out the special features are trailers for Kamikaze (1:29); Ghost Warrior (Swordkill) (3:00); Diva (2:52); L’amour Braque (2:11); Baby Blood (0:58); Thirst (0:43) 

The Final Thought 

Kamikaze is a brilliant little slice of mania from Luc Besson.  Kino has put together a great package filled with wonderful extras, picture, and sound.  Highly Recommended!!! 

Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray edition of Kamikaze is out now

%d bloggers like this: