Sunday, February 5, 2012

REVIEW: That Man From Rio

That Man From Rio
Director: Philippe de Broca
Year 1964

Belmondo! Belmondo! That Man From Rio is an exceptional adventure yarn, that perfectly showcases the acting chops, comedic flare, and the amazing stuntman talents of French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo. Coming off as a cross between Eurospy lavishness and the action packed goodness of the Indiana Jones series, That Man From Rio is one hell of an entertaining omnibus that never ceases to awe and amaze.

The film opens with Pvt. Adrien Dufourquet, played by the wonderful Jean-Paul Belmondo, as he is out on leave in Paris to visit his girlfriend Agnes. Unfortunately for him, a theft of an Amazon figurine at the Museum of Man starts a chain reaction that leads to Agnes' kidnapping. Determined to get her back, Adrien sets off in hot pursuit, following the kidnappers all the way to Rio. What unfolds is a series of wacky situations that constantly bombard our unlikely hero. From parachutes, alligators, murderers and women.... only an adventurer like Adrien, with the skills of Belmondo, can make it look this easy.

Jean-Paul Belmondo is fantastic in the role of Adrien, the unlikely adventurer. His charisma shines in every frame as he stumbles from one antic filled situation to the next. He's also given multiple opportunities to strut his athleticism, by performing his own harrowing stunts. From scaling tall buildings, to jumping out of speeding cars, to skydiving and everything in between, the man is a living legend of danger.

He's almost comparable to Jackie Chan, with all of the stunt work that he does and his willingness to be in harms way at any opportunity. His mixture of comedy and action is also reminiscent to the trademark style of Chan. If I had to give the most accurate description of what Belmondo the actor was like for a person not familiar with his filmography, it would be that he is basically the French version of Jackie Chan and just as thrilling. What makes him even more entertaining is the fact that he makes it all look so easy and effortless, while providing a heavy dose of charm and wit.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film has him driving full speed up to a parked car surrounded by bad guys. He casually jumps out of the moving vehicle and dashes into the driver's seat to steal the unsuspecting thugs car in a blink of an eye. The transition is so smooth and astounding that you don't realize that what you've just witnessed is damn near impossible and pretty damn impressive to boot. It's that kind of magic that propels That Man From Rio into a whole other cinematic stratosphere compared to other regular action comedies.

Another welcomed addition to the film is provided by the actress Francoise Dorleac. Her role in That Man From Rio is that of the strangely alluring and unpredictable character of Agnes Villermosa, the girlfriend of Adrien and the main component that keeps the story moving along. It is her kidnapping that propels Adrien to take action and follow her nabbers to Rio. She does an excellent job in being lively and spontaneous, which makes her a perfect fit for Belmondo's hectic and adventurous Adrien.

Agnes' character also has a revitalizing persona change once she gets along the shores of Rio. This personality flip, not surprisingly, has Adrien questioning his sanity for following her all this way. The once rather plain Agnes is transformed into a wild and free spirit, bursting out of her shell when confronted with her childhood stomping grounds. The revival of spirit is perfectly juxtaposed against the lush surroundings of Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and Amazonas Brazil, bringing out the exotic spirit in Agnes' character while mirroring Adrien's shock on entering uncharted territories, both in location and within his untamed lover. The whole attitude of the film is care-free while being set inside these picturesque locations, making the mood for the movie feel just right.

That Man From Rio is just so much damn fun. From beginning to end, the film never stops, thanks to the frantic acting of Jean-Paul Belmondo and the energized character turn of Francoise Dorleac. The action was smooth and death defying, the character interactions were memorable and natural, and the entire look of the film was top notch and extravagant to boot.

Rio de Janeiro is one of my most favorite film locations to visit in this cinematic medium, and That Man From Rio uses this breathtaking venue to its fullest. Not only have they caught the gorgeous scenery of 60's era Rio, but they've managed to capture the essence and atmosphere of this wild locale and present it to the world over. The combination of stark visuals, memorable characters, and intriguing narrative, launch this film to the top of my most favorite viewings in recent memories. If you need to know anything else about this movie, I've got one word for ya.....

Belmondo's Born to be Wild!

Belmondo is so excited, he's going to run all the way to Rio.

Have you seen these three weirdos?

It's Grand Theft Tractor!

Where the hell am I?!?!

Belmondo, the man of many talents.

That's right..... I'm badass.

I think he got the point.

Belmondo doing a bit of sight seeing in Rio.

Is it creepy that I like to watch you sleep?

It's the silhouette staring contest.

Can I get a lick of that delicious looking popsicle?

Good.... Bad..... I'm the guy with the shit-eating grin.

Look it's the Rio Hillbillies!

There's a Belmondo on the wing of the plane!

Heads up you two.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite movie in world!!!
    I never get tired of watching it, and Bebel has always been one of my fav actors!!