Color, 1982, 86 mins. 25 secs.
Directed by Jean-Claude Missiaen
Starring Gérard Lanvin, Véronique Jannot, Michel Constantin, Mario David, Dominique Pinon
Fun City Editions (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), Studiocanal (DVD) (France R2 PAL), 375 Media (DVD) (Germany R2 PAL) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)

Color, 1984, 107 mins. 27 secs.
Directed by Gilles Béhat
Starring Bernard Giraudeau, Christine Boisson, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Michel Auclair, Nathalie Courval
Fun City Editions (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), Studiocanal (DVD) (France R2 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

Color, 1984, 90 mins. 32 secs.
Directed by Alain Bonnot
Starring Annie Girardot, Paul Crauchet, Bernard Brieux, Sandrine Dumas
Fun City Editions (Blu-ray) (US RA HD) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)

Though its name has quickly become synonymous with '70s and '80s New York City and Los Angeles character-driven films, Fun City Editions Shot Patternmanages to throw out some unexpected curve balls to keep us all on our toes. Case in point: Seeing Red: Shot Pattern3 French Vigilante Thrillers, a three Blu-ray set featuring 1980s crime films mixing style, violence, and plenty of saxophone music. None of them have been available in the U.S. on home video before, and each one looks great here with nice scans supplied by Studiocanal.

First up is 1982's Shot Pattern (Tir Groupé), a sort of spin on the Death Wish concept already adopted by Italy in Street Law, here transposed to the streets of Paris. Perfume shop worker Carine (Jannot) is being secretive about her still recent but intense romance with Antoine (The Taste of Others' Lanvin), who runs an outdoor market stall. One night after dinner he puts her on a commuter train back home, but the ride turns into a nightmare when three hooligans (including Dominique Pinon, just seen in his iconic turn in Diva) start aggressively harassing the passengers. They set their sights on Carine and, after a brief chase, kill her with a blow to the head and quickly hop off the train. The police investigation headed by Inspector Gagnon (Constantin) doesn't progress to the satisfaction of the grief-stricken Antoine, who keeps flashing back to memories of his girlfriend, so he Shot Patterndecides to buy a gun and do something about it...

Shot PatternThough the subject matter could have lent itself to a scuzzy, hyper-violent tale of bloody vengeance, Shot Pattern isn't quite that; you do get some righteous fury and a fair amount of gunfire, but it's also an effective and often subdued study of trauma and loss. Lanvin and Constantin are the obvious anchors here and turn in solid performances, while the atmosphere is rich with early '80s Parisian trappings including lots of gritty street scenery and pop culture ephemera. Director Jean-Claude Missiaen wasn't terribly prolific, but he shows a sure hand here and would team up with Lanvin again two years later with the interesting Night Patrol (Ronde de nuit). This film has been out on European DVD and VHS in a handful of editions but appears to be making its English-subtitled debut here with Fun City's Blu-ray, which looks solid throughout with plenty of texture and film grain to give it that signature '80s French crime film look. The DTS-HD MA French 2.0 audio is also in good shape, and the subtitles are good apart from often running much longer on one line than normal and threatening to run right off the screen. An audio commentary by Travis Woods does a skillful job of appraising the film's merits as an unorthodox vigilante film and pointing out the symbolic bookends of its opening and closing, as well as pointing out other storytelling touches that help set it apart. A short archival interview with Missiaen (3m56s) touches on the making of this, his debut film, when he was 43, after establishing himself as a journalist. An even shorter audio interview with Lanvin (53s) is more of a quick dedication, followed by an alternate 3m14s ending with a director text forward (it essentially shows what was covered more briefly with a voiceover in the final cut), a 2m56s image gallery, and the French trailer.

Street of the DamnedNext on Street of the Damneddisc two is 1984's Street of the Damned (Rue Barbare), a wild adaptation of the novel Streets of the Lost by pulp novelist David Goodis (Shoot the Piano Player). Scarred by his experiences in a criminal gang, Daniel "Chet" Chetman (Water Drops on Burning Rocks' Giraudeau) has been pathologically avoiding getting mixed up with anyone else's business for the past ten years and keeps a low profile with his wife, Carla (Courval). Walking home one night past a construction site, he comes across a bloodied Chinese girl who says she fell down and needs help. He walks her part of the way back and is then informed by a buddy who was trying to steal concrete that the girl was raped by the Barbarian gang, Chet's old cronies, led by man bun-sporting Hagen (The Vanishing's Donnadieu). Things start to escalate when the gang attacks a restaurant where the Chetmans are eating in order to retrieve the girl, with Chet still refusing to get in the middle-- despite the fact that the same men were responsible for an earlier assault against his wife. With his past demons impossible to ignore, Chet ends up reconnecting with old flame and gang moll Manu (Boisson) and Street of the Damnedrealizes that he can't avoid having a day of reckoning with Hagen and his thugs.

About as close as French cinema has gotten to the crazy gang antics of films Street of the Damnedlike The Warriors and Death Wish 3, this one is a cult classic still waiting to be discovered with a slew of fun fight scenes, gaudy fashions and hairstyles, and a raucous mano a mano climax in the best '80s tradition of Lethal Weapon and L.A. Confidential. Looking especially ripped here, Giraudeau makes for a good action antihero who's utterly impossible to like at the beginning but eventually wins us around once he finally goes over the edge. Also making its Blu-ray debut here, this one gets another Woods commentary in which he draws understandable analogies to George Miller and Walter Hill while also making observant comments about the relationship between crime fiction and full-on pulp as well as the askew portrayal of our protagonist that still ties in with Hollywood avengers of the time like Charles Bronson and Sylvester Stallone. Again the scan here looks great, too. An interview with director Gilles Béhat (12m37s), who mostly did French TV after this, has him chatting about how he discovered the novel and was drawn to the depiction of "two sides of the street." Then you get an archival interview with Donadeiu (16m21s) about how he met the director and eventually came around to wanting to play the role Black Listafter originally being asked to play the henchman. Also included are an image gallery (4m48s), a teaser, and two Black Listtrailers.

Finally in 1984's Black List (Liste Noire), the great Annie Girardot (Shock Treatment) stars as Jeanne Dufour, a race car driver and garage shop owner who's been estranged from her young daughter Nathalie (The Double Life of Veronique's Dumas) for six months. Nathalie and two of her delinquent friends are approached by an older man and talked into pulling a quick and easy small-time robbery, which draws the attention of the cops. As it turns out, the kids are being used as decoys while a much larger armored car heist is pulled off elsewhere involving a rocket launcher. The police get Jeanne on the phone to try to talk the kids into stopping the stick-up, but instead they figure out they've been duped and go gunning for the main robbers. Unfortunately their ambush leaves one dead and Nathalie with a bullet in her back, living just long enough to see her mom one last time. Black ListThe survivor, David (Brieux), gives Jeanne enough information to learn who the culprits are, so Black Listshe transforms into a black-clad angel of death to avenge her daughter.

Obviously this one is Girardot's show all the way as she gets to pull out all the stops playing a mother stricken by both grief and guilt, essentially carving the way for roles down the line like Sally Field in An Eye for an Eye. This one has a lot else going for it too though including some dynamic death scenes, a fun electronic score, and a colorful cast of character actors including the always great Jean-Claude Dreyfus (of Delicatessen fame, and also seen as one of the gang members in Street of the Damned). As with the first film in the set, this one really wants to ensure that audiences aren't comfortable with the idea of being a vigilante and even throws in a bit of a sermon late in the game. However, that doesn't stop it from unleashing some bloody action thrills where it counts. For some reason this has been the hardest of the three to find at all up to this point, and quality here is on par with the rest of its companion films. This time Walter Chaw takes on commentary duties and does a fine job of laying out the state of its star's career at the time, the pertinent qualities of what a female-driven vigilante movie means within the subgenre, and the social issues in France that percolated around the time. Also included are a 2m37s gallery and Fun City's promo for the entire set, plus an insert booklet with a new essay by Barry Forshaw about the ins and outs of Gallic cinematic revenge.

Reviewed on July 3, 2024