Black Pierre Lafargue

Black Pierre Lafargue
In the French-only DVD supplements and booklet included with the release of Pierre Lafargue's Black, much ado is made about "paying homage" and referencing '70s blaxploitation films. They go on and on about the style, the era and all of the movies acknowledged, but never once do they indicate having much of a purpose or point behind making this film beyond showing how cool they are for knowing obscure movies ― something anyone with a video store membership, or internet access, can do. Luckily, at some point during pre-production, Lafargue and his gang found some semblance of ire due to racial tensions in France stemming from the recent influx of African immigrants. Along with an overall trajectory of witchcraft and animal symbolism ― an ideologue that subverts the standard morality play associated with a heist film ― this gives some relevance to an overly stylized, but taut and well-paced, tale of the titular Parisian thief (MC Jean Gab'1), who travels to his native Senegal to steal some diamonds. As mentioned, almost every scene brings a new reference, which can be as obvious as Shaft or as random as Heist, with a gang of Chechnyan mercenaries entering the mix, along with an Interpol agent (Carole Karemera), an arms dealer with a skin condition and a seedy bank director. Up until the overly artsy climax, this African caper delivers an abundance of action, as Black tosses grenades, blows up cars, gets in back-alley fist fights and battles machete-wielding gangs, when not wrapped up in elaborate shootouts. It all makes for a thoroughly entertaining visceral experience, even if all of the characters are merely caricatures and the mystical message feels tacked on. Helping matters is a propulsive, funky soundtrack with a variety of existing titles that give everything a playful vibe and appropriate tone, given the aforementioned blaxploitation template. Imperfections aside, should this become a franchise, I would gladly check out future instalments. (Evokative)