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 Â® 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.
a film by ALEKSEI BALABANOV DEAD MAN’S BLUFF
ALEKSEI PANIN, DMITRI DYUZHEV, SERGEI MAKOVETSKY, VIKTOR SUKHORUKOV, DMITRI PEVTSOV, KIRILL PIROGOV, YURI STEPANOV, and NIKITA MIKHALKOV
written by ALEKSEI BALABANOV and STAS MOKHNACHEV
cinematography by YEVGENI PRIVIN
editing by TATYANA KUZMICHYOVA
production design by PAVEL PARKHOMENKO
original music by VYACHESLAV BUTUSOV
directed by ALEKSEI BALABANOV
Â© 2005 CTB Film Company