Dobermann: His Bark Is As Big As His Bite

Dobermann: His Bark Is As Big As His Bite

Static Mass Rating: 2/5
Second Sight 

Release date: April 25th 2011
Certificate (UK): 18
Running time: 99 mins

Year of production: 1997
Original language: French with English subtitles

Director: Jan Kounen

Cast: Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci

Unfortunately, not every dog can have its day. Billed as a sexy and violent crime caper, I was left wanting something more. Dobermann is missing the fun of Death Race (2008) and the camaraderie of Inglourious Basterds (2009). Monica Bellucci has been over-sexualised to the point of sex-doll parody; licking a gun and keeping her nail varnish in her cleavage, and the close up tongue shots of her making out with Vincent Cassel is more gross than hot. And I’m still unsure if director Jan Kounen was spoofing the genre or not…


This 1997 crime thriller Dobermann, stars Vincent Cassel as the eponymous anti-hero, Monica Bellucci as his lover Nat, and Tcheky Karyo as the ex-vice cop who’s out to get them. This is no pulp fiction. Props to them, it hasn’t dated in the past 12 years, but this can’t save it from itself.

The film opens at the christening of Yann Le Pentrec, where a surprise dog bite leads to a scuffle and a gun landing in the pram of baby Yann. A baptism of fire, indeed. Fast forward, and Yann has grown up to be a charismatic career-criminal, dating his over-sexualised sidekick, still using the same gun his uncle gave him, and going by the moniker Dobermann, for tenuous reasons never explained.

Joined by his rag-tag crew, Dobermann plans to rob several Parisian banks on the same day. Hot on his tail are an inept police crew and a rival ex-vice officer with a vendetta. It’s a dog’s life.


As the net closes in, Dobermann proves his bite can certainly match his bark. The violence shown is graphic, borderline silly, but lacks a substantial context. Some of the scenes appear to be there for the sake of it, rather than to explain or illuminate. If I’m going to see a man’s face being mashed into the ground from a moving car, I’d like to be able to have reason why, but for gore fans, this won’t disappoint.

No one is exempt from Kounen’s treatment, making for a rather squeamish watch for the faint at heart. The baby holding a live grenade in particular takes the biscuit. The only character to receive any kind of mourning or funeral is the puppy, Godzilla. This is certainly a world where human life is expendable, even for the Abbot, a religious man with a penchant for grenades and hiding behind two way mirrors to watch other people have sex.


The climax takes place in a club called Hell, filled with cocaine and glitzy drag queens, and savage nature documentaries playing on big screens. It’s kind of overblown, but it’s in keeping with the ridiculous nature of the rest of the movie. It some respects, it’s commendable that Kounen has gone balls out, but it creeps into being clichéd at points; the script could have used some grooming, and perhaps the film would have benefitted overall if Kounen had been kept on a tighter leash.

Watching Nat being dragged on her knees for almost a minute is bad for pacing, but this hardly makes Dobermann the dog’s dinner.

This isn’t a movie for pacing though, or in-depth characters, and mind blowing cinematography. This is a film to bash on with friends and pizzas. It’s ridiculous and unintentionally funny; if you like your action flicks dumb and gory, you’ll have a good time.

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