Dobermann (1997)

Director: Jan Kounen

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Vincent Cassel, Tchéky Karyo, Monica Bellucci, Antoine Basler, Dominique Bettenfeld, Pascal Demolon, Marc Duret, Romain Duris

Following his breakout performance in La Haine and his starring-role in BAFTA-winner The Apartment, Vincent Cassel took the titular role in Jan Kounen's 1997 feature-debut. It's no surprise this film celebrates its 25th anniversary, as the opening of a dated CGI Dobermann shooting the screen before urinating on the credits feels undoubtedly like a product of the 90s.

Gifted his first gun at his christening, Dobermann (Vincent Cassel) loves to use his firearms to rob banks with his fellow thieves, including deaf lover Nat (Monica Bellucci). Following a bank heist with a high body count, sadistic cop Christini (Tchéky Karyo) will stop at nothing to catch Dobermann.

The crux of this story should be the cat-and-mouse game between cop and robber, as Christini bides his time waiting for the moment to strike. The anticipation should build until this volatile cop can let loose against the object of his obsession, yet the tension is rarely evident as the story unfolds rather sloppily. There's thrills to be found in the action scenes, although this cannot compensate for how tiresome the film rapidly becomes in the company of uninteresting characters.

While characterisation can feel missing, some performances compensate for this as Cassel excels with a livewire portrayal while Karyo holds nothing back with an unhinged performance. Such opportunities feel unfortunately missing for Belluci, underutilised as she's relegated to an object of desire whose characteristics are being deaf, wielding weapons and being beaten-up. As these performers come together for a hopefully gnarly finale, the build-up unfortunately reaches an underwhelming ending. This is one Dobermann whose bite is less effective than its bark.

Dobermann is available in Cinemas and on Digital Download from 13th May