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Friday, December 2, 2011

ZIFT (2008)

No doubt Bulgarian helmer Javor Gardev overdoes it on his debut pic, dishing out turbo-charged Neo-Noir style like gravy on a Blue-Plate Special. But you can’t help but grin at the fun he has following a convict on his calamitous first day out of prison. Shot in dank WideScreen b&w, the story fills us in on more than a decade lost in prison where Moth (it’s his nickname . . . don’t ask) turned himself into a fierce, heavily tattooed fighting machine. But his release comes at a price as a series of goons & official types chase him down to find out where he stashed that ultra-valuable diamond that helped to send him up in the first place. As the hard-luck convict, Zahary Baharov is physically imposing, and just as convincing playing his younger, more innocent self. A good thing since Gardev runs him thru his places with a mini-series’ worth of violence, sex (pretty graphic), foot chases on slippery surfaces and deadly poisons. The complicated plotting & visual references run the gamut from D.O.A./’50 to GILDA/’46 (with Bulgarian lyrics to ‘Put the Blame on Mame,’ no less), all the way up to EASTERN PROMISES/’06. And, of course, there’s a lying femme fatale who’s either worth killing . . . or dying for. It’ll be interesting to see how Gardev follows this up. He’s worth watching, even when you aren’t sure what the heck is going on.

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