Forgotten Films

The Red Siren (2002)

Or I can't believe it's not Luc Besson. Last time I had anything which could be described as a holiday was a three day trip to Paris about five years ago. Not really knowing the city and as they say 'on a budget' I inevitably spent both nights at the cinema. One of the movies I enjoyed was the already mentioned I'm With Lucy and the other was euro soup action drama La Siren Rouge, based on an award winning novel by Maurice Georges Dantec and directed by Olivier Megaton.

A rebellious pre-teen, Alice, turns up at a police station in central Paris and tells them that her mother (Francis Barber) is a murderer. There's no evidence so her mother isn't charged, but Alice goes on the run. She falls under the protection of Hugo, an ex-soldier turned hit man and gang member (Jean-Marc Barr) who because of a tragic experience during an unnamed war agrees to help her look for father who might be in Portugal. Meanwhile an Italian policewoman (Asia Argento) is dispatched to look for Alice, just as her mother sends in some paramilitaries to do more than that.

Essentially it's a chase film across the continent, with the three parties dodging in and out of each other's way with Alice in the middle just wanting to reach her goal. The script isn't perfect tending to drift into faux-Tarantino territory, but it's saved by the performances, subtle in the case of Argento and Barr or scene chewing in the case of Barber, and the action sequences which are as good as anything in The Transporter films. Like Besson's actioners such as Nikita and Leon there's real heart to the relationships, with the guns and explosions developing from rather than being shoehorned into the plot.

The film is in English despite the locales (which makes for some appealing accent spotting). I originally imported it from France in a boxset that includes the slightly overaught soundtrack on an extra cd and all the extras in the native language without English subtitles (obviously). Thankfully, there has since been a dvd release everywhere else.

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