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LA Molotov cocktail of gruesome carnage, eccentric characters, and off-beat humor, Dead Man's Bluff casts a bracingly cynical eye on recent Eastern European history. Director Aleksei Balabanov (Brother) uses "uniformly ace" (Variety) cameo performances, by Russia's most prominent actors, to send up both the greed-is-good mentality of the newly democratized former Soviet Union and the self-conscious Tarantino / Guy Ritchie-style crime films of the 90's. This ferocious farce suggests that on the mean free-market streets of modern day Russia, the only real liberty is the freedom to kill. Trigger-happy sibling assassins Simon (Dmitri Dyuzhev) and Sergei (Aleksei Panin) work as errand boys for Mikhailovich (Nikita Mikhalkov - Oscar® winning director of Burnt by the Sun), the sadistic kingpin of a provincial Russian town. But after brains Sergei and brawn Simon bungle a crucial drug deal, and a crooked cop's death squad grabs their briefcase of "hell powder" heroin, Mikhailovich's patience wears thin. The brothers' life and death quest to reclaim their stash initiates a messy turf war of beatings, torture and close-quarter gun-play. But as the bodies pile up, Simon and Sergei discover that in the circus-mirror world of capitalist New Russia, cops, gangsters, lawbreakers, and lawmakers can be interchangeable. Packed with gratuitous violence, un-PC humor, and irreverent insight, and set to a home grown punk-metal score, Dead Man's Bluff gleefully tears into the corrupt underbelly of Russian society. In so doing, it attains the grisly heights of stylized brutality and the vividly high-octane story-telling verve usually only seen in contemporary Asian action cinema.

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KI4742 Dead Man's Bluff DVD (2005/Alexie Balabanov) $14.95 $13.49