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Braquo - Season 1 Review



Buy from Amazon.com (US)
Buy from Amazon.ca (CAN)
Buy from DVDEmpire.com (US)

Rating
Video:   8/10
Audio:   7/10
Extras:   0/10

This is amazing - Buy it!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
3/30/2012

    After their group leader is falsely convicted and commits suicide, three policemen are ready to cross the thin red line, challenging the inertia and indifference of the bureaucracy that drove their friend to his death. Under pressure from Internal Affairs, they turn their backs on the rules and abandon their ideals. The three cops choose an adrenaline-fuelled life full of big risks, questionable tactics, money, blood and death. Every time they cross the line, it gets that much harder to go back.
After just finishing the first season of the Canadian cop show, King, I decided to jump into the French cop show, Braquo. I only heard about this a few weeks ago when eOne sent out a monthly list of what's coming out, and I immediately became interested in the release for a number of reasons; the description from the studio reminded me of another of my favorite cop shows, The Shield, a show about a group of cops that use questionable tactics to put people behind bars, and I've also been on a bit of a foreign-kick with movies lately, so I was excited to watch a foreign TV show.

This 2-disc set, which is only released in Canada (not the US), contains all 8 episodes from the first season.

Disc 1 (3:20:24)
Max (51:54)
The Yellow Line (48:10)
Caught Red-Handed (50:04)
Over to the Other Side (50:16)

Disc 2 (3:12:35)
Running After the Night (49:15)
Group Rate (46:45)
Tangent (48:28)
Eddy (48:07)

Video

The Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) has a gritty look to it, with lots of dark scenes, and some noise. The noise adds to the feel of the show, much like it did in Battlestar Galactica (it's not as noticeable as in BSG though). I thought the picture looked really good, except for two short shots which exhibit a strange issue; it's almost as if the shot has 2 frames in order, then one frame that jumps back, and this repeats the entire length of the shot. Thankfully it's maybe 5 seconds total out of the entire season, but it's something you'll likely notice, unless you blink. There's a "play all" option on each disc, but eOne hasn't placed a chapter after the opening credits.

Audio

Being from France, the show is entirely in French (a Dolby Digital 5.1 track), so English viewers will need to enable the English subtitles in order to understand any of the dialog. The audio tracks are decent, but I found they were too focused on the front speakers, with little going on in the rears. I was only aware of audio coming out of the rear speakers twice, and I got up once to make sure there was anything coming out of them at all. While listening I came across an odd issue in the second and final episodes; the audio had an echo to it. Though it wasn't horrible, I found it a bit distracting at times. The problem is there through pretty much the entire second episode, but it's sporadic in the final episode.

The subtitles can really make or break a release like this, and I was pleased that 99% of the subtitles are great. There were a few instances of spelling mistakes (two, or three), and a couple of times I think they stuck a random word in a sentence, but everything else was great. None of the screw-ups left me confused at all, and I had no problem understanding what was going on in the show.

Extras - How we rate extras

There aren't any extras on the set.

Summary

As much as I love the standard "good cop" shows, it's the "bad cop" shows that really interest me. Maybe it's because there are fewer of them, or maybe it's because they're so unpredictable (like the first episode of The Shield, did anyone see that coming?!). I'm very familiar with American shows, and fairly familiar with British shows, but this is the first time I've sat down to watch a French show, so I didn't know where the boundaries were as to what they would, or wouldn't do. Combine that with the blurred moral line of the characters, and you have a show in which anything can happen. There's a ton of violence in the show, quite a bit of nudity, and tons of awesome acting, writing, and directing. Yes, I'm in love with this French cop show. If I didn't have a baby to look after, I would have watched the entire thing in one sitting (instead I had to watch 5 episodes one day, and 3 immediately after waking up the next morning). There are undoubtedly a ton of comparisons that can be made to The Shield; both shows have a team of cops with questionable morals, both have a gritty look to them, excellent writing, and a lot of violence.

I hope that people give this a shot, even though it's not an English-language show, and requires subtitles. I used to hate subtitles when I was younger, but now I hate dubbed movies and shows. I feel that things should always be watched with their original language track, as that's part of the performance. I hope that subtitles appearing in many American shows such as Heroes and Lost have opened the door for people to be more accepting of them, but I fear many won't be willing to watch this simply because it's subtitled. It would be a huge mistake, as this is an excellent, excellent series, even with the few problems with the audio and video that I mentioned earlier.

If you enjoy excellent, gritty police shows, definitely import this from Amazon.ca. I can't wait for the second season to be released... oh man... I hope they do it soon!


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