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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Code (2002)

"There's only one rule. Do your job, you'll be fine. Bug us, we'll clobber you. Cross us, you're dead. That's the Code, our only law."
- Mel (David Saracino)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: May 19, 2004

Stars: Samy Naceri, Samuel Le Bihan
Director: Manuel Boursinhac

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and sexuality
Run Time: 01h:46m:27s
Release Date: May 11, 2004
UPC: 043396011311
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

It's another tiresome meditation about honor among thieves—do they live by The Code? Will they rat each other out? Will their women stand by them, will they come out on top, will they get to swing the door closed in Kay's face while their subordinates kiss the ring? Obviously, these are the staples of gangster pictures, from Hawks to Melville to Coppola, and somebody setting out to make a gangster movie today need not reinvent the wheel. They've got to bring something to the table, though, but that's something that the makers of this film seem not to have understood—this is a tired and generally a pretty sorry effort.

The Code is larded up with just about every cliché of the form you can think of. Dris (Samuel Le Bihan) is just out of the big house, and Yanis (Samy Naceri) his rich bad boy friend, is trying to lure him back in the life. Already on the wrong side of the law is Dris' little brother Mel (David Saracino), a car thief with ambition; he doesn't want to be hotwiring Peugeots forever. So will Dris go straight, or get lured back into a life of crime? Have you seen this before? Only about a thousand times. Dris even has the good girl/bad girl thing going, a blonde and a brunette—will he start a family with the virtuous Lise, or get back together with that Gypsy tramp Nina?

After a few minutes of this, you start getting antsy, and asking questions like: so, um, where's the violence? More violence, please. There are plenty of action movies with similarly threadbare plots, but more often than not, these are redeemed by stuff getting blown up, or some sort of whammy-filled, kinetic action sequence. No such luck here, as the filmmakers seem to take this all very seriously, and are under the illusion that this is a Cassavetes-like character study of a man trying to do good. An action movie without action is like Hamlet without Hamlet, and that's pretty much what you've got here—instead, it's lots and lots of French actors trying to act tough and yelling at one another. John Woo's Hong Kong movies have some of these same story problems, in taking themselves far too seriously; but they're redeemed by theatrical, balletic, ultraviolent sequences in the manner of Peckinpah that make them worth watching. Even in Tarantino's movies, there's a sense that he doesn't take his gangsters too seriously, but they get both violence and sharp dialogue; the guys in The Code have neither, which make this a pretty poor exercise.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The video transfer is probably the best thing about this disc, though it's far from spectacular; it is passable, though, with reasonably bright colors and few scratches.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: About the only pleasure this disc affords is a chance to compare the profanity-laden English subtitles with a sloppy dub track filled with slightly different variations on the profanity. The French track is far less offensive to listen to, and has less room tone.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Japanese Story, The Pact of Silence
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Nothing but trailers and chapter stops, but a word of warning about the English-language subtitles: whoever prepared them seems to be from the Dr. Evil School of Mathematics, and doesn't know the difference between a million and a billion. So Yanis talks and talks about (if you're reading along in English) a $5 billion heist he's recently pulled off; oh, but now he's going after the really big score. It's just another example of the shoddiness and stupidity with which this film and DVD were prepared.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Don't even bother dusting off the secret decoder ring, because this isn't a code worth cracking.


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