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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best That Could Be Matched With the Original, February 24, 2003
By Bud (Seminole, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
Considering the enigmatic ending of the Oscar-winning "The French Connection," a sequel seemed obligatory. But four years later, it's likely that no one was expecting the harrowing twist that came with the follow-up's plot.
This time directed by John Frankenheimer, gruff, foul-mouthed, brute narcotics officer Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) travels to Marseilles, determined to stop the elusive drug kingpin Alain "Frog One" Charnier (Fernando Rey), whom he failed to stop in New York City. Once in France, Popeye is met by Inspector Henri Barthelemi (Bernard Fresson), who resents the former's rude and crude crimefighting demeanor. Doyle finds himself as a fish out of water in France, where he is matched with a language he can't understand, eliminating one of his most useful weapons--his mouth. Determined to find Frog One on his own (and unaware he is being used by Barthelemi to lure Charnier into the open), Popeye escapes his French escorts. Now here comes the unexpected; in an ironic twist of fate, Doyle is kidnapped by Frog One's henchmen and forced to take heroin in an attempt to steal information from the narcotics agent. Left abused and humiliated by Charnier, Doyle is forced to go through a long, agonizing cold-turkey withdrawal from the heroin forced upon him. Now determined more than ever to stop his nemesis, we follow Popeye as "French Connection II" unfolds in a satisfying manner, like a crime drama should.
Filmed with a grainy cinematography, matching the mood of the story, this sequel is just as engaging as the original, while Hackman's performance--especially during the grizzly-to-view withdrawal sequences--is uncompromising and breathtaking, though no Oscar nomination went his way (though a Golden Globe nod did suffice). The script allows for surprisingly deep insight to the seeminly two-dimensional character of Popeye Doyle, while Frankenheimer's directing is tight and effectual. "French Connection II" is just as great as the original (though not as well-received), if not more intriguing, and in some aspects, much more harrowing and down-right gritty...a word always associated with the "French Connection" films.
Ex rental in nice shape