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Film / Dobermann

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Dobermann is a 1997 French film directed by Jan Kounen starring Vincent Cassel, Tchéky Karyo, and Monica Bellucci.

The charismatic criminal Yann Lepentrec a.k.a. "Dobermann" (Cassel), who got his first gun when he was christened, leads a gang of brutal robbers, including Nat (Belluci) and Manu (Romain Duris) among others. After a complex and brutal bank robbery, they are being hunted by the Paris police. The hunt is led by the sadistic cop Christini (Karyo), who only has one goal: to catch Dobermann at any cost.

Tropes used in Dobermann:

  • Armed Blag: At the start of the film, Dobermann and Nat knock over an amoured car on a remote country road.
  • Bad Habits: The Abbot is a member of Dobermann's who dresses as a priest. There is no evidence he actually is ordained, although he tries to act like a priest.
  • Bank Robbery: A series of fake bank robberies are staged across the city to distract the police and send them scurrying about trying to cover them all. While this is happening, Dobermann and his gang hit two banks located close to one another in a pair of high firepower smash-and-grab raids.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Manu is shot and badly wounded by the police. Although he tries to make light of the situation, claiming that he doesn't even miss his dick, he knows that he is losing a lot of blood and won't be able to escape. So rather than get left behind to be captured, or endanger others by causing them to stay behind to protect him, he shoots himself in the head when Dobermann's back is turned.
  • BFG: Nat uses a FN Minimi Paratrooper with an M203 Grenade Launcher (which is squad automatic weapon for those playing along at home) to blast her way into the bank.
  • Blown Across the Room: Taken to ridiculous extremes when the Dobermann's gun blows a couple of cops out of a nightclub and into a river.
  • Book Safe: The Abbot carries a grenade inside a hollowed-out bible.
  • Bound and Gagged: Christini takes Oliver's family hostage and has them bound and gagged to chairs in order to force Oliver to cooperate with him.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: Dobermann and Nat terrify the armoured car guard to the point that he wets himself.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Centre: Pitbull is the gang's muscle: a hulking bruiser with a willingness to use violence at the drop of a hat. However, he is consistently shown as possessing a soft side. He dotes over his new puppy Godzilla. During the bank raid, he tells an old lady that she can remain standing if it is too difficult for her to lie on the floor. When she complains that she only came into the bank to withdraw 500 francs, he gives her 500 francs from his own wallet. And when Godzilla is accidentally shot by the police, he falls in a deep depression: vowing to make Godzilla the grandest grave any dog has ever had, and debone a cop.
  • By-the-Book Cop: The Captain is just as determined to bring in Dobermann as Christini. He just wants to it by the book. When his plan fails and Christini is given command of the operation, his disgust at Christini's Cowboy Cop methods is palpable.
  • The Caper: Dobermann and his gang are planning to rob multiple banks on the same day.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: One of the dancers in Joe's club complains that Manu is jerking off while watching her and holding a gun in his other hand. Joe gives Manu a stern talking to and almost throws him out of the club.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the film, Nat uses a throwing knife to scare Manu in a *Twang* Hello moment. It is a safe bet that most of the audience has forgotten about it when she draws it from under her hair and uses it on a cop during the firefight in the nightclub.
  • Cigar Chomper: Rabid Cop Chistini spends most of the film with a cigar clenched in his teeth. In one scene, he makes a point by grinding out his cigar on Dobermann's photo.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Jan Kounen is the man trapped in the bank doors.
  • Cute Mute: Nat the Gypsy is a deaf-mute played by Monica Bellucci. You do the maths.
  • Disability Immunity: Nat the Gypsy is deaf. She uses this to her advantage during the raid in Joe's club. She manages to shove the cop who is trying to arrest her up against the speaker bank, and then cranks the volume of the club's sound system to maximum. The cop falls to the floor, deafened and nearly unconscious, while Nat is largely unaffected.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The film ends with the surviving members of the gang laying Sonia to rest, then climbing into their cabriolet and driving off; presumably on the way to their next big score. But then the camera pulls slowly back till it is above the trees. The sound of a helicopter fades in, and crosshairs appear on the screen, slowly focussing in on the car. Roll credits.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dobermann's father is a hardened gangster, but even he thinks it is inappropriate for Joe to be carrying a .357 Magnum inside the church, even if it is a christening present. Note that he doesn't think a revolver is bad present for his infant son.
  • Fanservice Extra: Most of the female patrons at Joe Hell are dressed in either fetish wear or lingerie. It's that kind of club.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The transvestite providing Pitbull with LSD in the club explains how she conceals the drugs in cartridges because the police never think to search there. When the club is raided shortly thereafter, the transvestite grabs her revolver and leaps out to confront the police. Too late the drug addled Pitbull realises that she has grabbed the wrong cartridges and is attempting to shoot the police with a gun load with drugs. She gets gunned down.
  • Grenade Launcher: Nat the Gypsy has a M203 Grenade Launcher mounted under her FN Minimi Paratrooper. She uses it to blast her way into the bank.
  • Grenade Tag: The Abbot shoves a grenade inside a cop's crash helmet inside before slamming the visor shut and pushing him out of the car.
  • Groin Attack: Just before launching the assault on Joe Hell, Christini shoots Manu in the groin. In a milder example, Victoria later grabs the junk of the cop who is trying to arrest her.
  • Guns in Church: A literal example happens in the prologue. Uncle Joe attempts to give the infant Dobermann his christening present—a .357 magnum—in the church. Dobermann's father, himself a hardened gangster, points out how inappropriate this is.
  • Hand Cannon: Several of the criminals favour ludicrously large handguns:
    • Dobermann carries a Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 629 as his sidearm throughout the movie. The barrel shroud is used as a rocket launcher that fires miniature rocket shells.
    • Mosquito uses a Colt Anaconda .44 magnum with an 8" inch barrel and pearl grips that he carries shoved in the waistband of his trousers.
    • Manu has a nickel finished Desert Eagle with a black 14" barrel.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Mosquito fails to notice an armed police raid on the club—accompanied by a lot of gunfire—because he has headphones on while having sex.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: When things start unravelling for Christini, he grabs the handcuffed Nat, drags her to his car, and drives off with her. He takes a sadistic joy in explaining his plans to rape her before he kills her, knowing that the deaf Nat cannot hear him.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Dobermann plays head games with the armoured car guard by asking him if he wants to sleep with Nat. As he is doing this, Nat salaciously licks the barrel of her shotgun.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: A self-inflicted version occurs with the transvestite who tries to protect Pitbull from the cops, only to realise the cartridges in her gun contain drugs instead of gunpowder.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: This is Christini's preferred method of extracting information from people, be they criminals or civilians. Strays dangerously close to Cold-Blooded Torture at times.
  • Laser Sight: Manu has a laser sight mounted on his sniper rifle. The first time it is used, he puts a red dot on Dobermann's forehead at the junkyard, which is just him showing off. However, when the same red dot appears on the rookie cop's forehead during the bank job, the audience knows something bad is about to happen.
  • Motor Mouth: Mosquito never shuts up. The source of his nickname appears to be his constant annoying buzzing.
  • Nature Tinkling: Joe—who is pissed at Manu for being caught masturbating—tells Manu that he can't use the bathroom in the club and sends him outside to crap in the river.
  • One-Word Title
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The majority of the gang are only referred to by their nicknames: Dobermann, Nat the Gypsy, the Abbot, Mosquito, and Pitbull. Christini briefly rattles off their real names when he is interrogating Pitbull near the end.
  • Oral Fixation: Mosquito constantly has a mouthful of chewing gum: even when he is committing a Bank Robbery or having sex.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Mosquito keeps his pistol shoved in the waistband of his pants and never goes anywhere without it.
  • Pater Familicide: Discussed. Mosquito asks the Abbot why he is painting the inside of the villa the gang is using as a hideout. The Abbot explains that the previous owner was a businessman who shot his wife, his children, and then himself, and he is painting over the bloodstains. Mosquito is squicked as he realises what the stains on his bedroom ceiling are.
  • The Peeping Tom: The Abbot watches Mosquito and Victoria having sex from behind a one-way mirror.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: When the Abbot shoves his grenade inside the policeman's crash helmet, he uses his teeth to pull out the pin.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Mosquito hits the Captain over the head repeatedly during the bank job; so hard that he breaks his gun. Later Christini smacks Oliver's wife over the head with his gun when she tries to stop him throwing her baby across the room.
  • Plot Armor: A group of SWAT officers storms the nightclub and opens fire on Dobermann with automatic guns... and some panicking people are caught in the crossfire while Dobermann stands perfectly still to stylishly fire back at them while the heavy enemy fire doesn't even touch his clothing before he goes hiding behind a table.
  • Pooping Where You Shouldn't: Joe—who is pissed at Manu for being caught masturbating—tells Manu that he can't use the bathroom in the club and sends him outside to crap in the river.
  • Potty Emergency: After Joe stops him from snorting cocaine, Manu has a sudden urgent need to take a shit, Joe tells him the bathroom is occupied and sends him outside to to a crap in the river.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Rabid Cop: Christini is completely out of control. In one scene he throws a baby across a room and then pistol whips the mother when she tries to go after it.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Mosquito is shown to be noticeably lax regarding gun safety. He constantly keeps a loaded gun thrust into the waistband of his pants. He pulls the gun at the slightest provocation. He gestures with the hand holding the gun; often waving it in someone's face to emphasise a point. At one point, he holds the gun upside down and peers down the barrel, despite it being loaded. Manu isn't much better; showing off his new sniper rifle by aiming it at Dobermann's head.
  • Shoot the Television: Dobermann becomes so enraged at what he is seeing on Joe's surveillance system that he shoots the monitor.
  • The Speechless: Nat the Gypsy is a deaf-mute who communicates through sign language. She does make some inarticulate cries of pain or rage during the film, and manages to articulate a single word towards the end: "Fuckers!".
  • Trick Bullet: Dobermann has a variety of miniature rocket shells that he fires from a launcher mounted in the barrel shroud of his Hand Cannon. Ones we see used include tear gas and high explosive.
  • *Twang* Hello: When Manu points a Laser Sight at Dobermann's head, Nat expresses her displeasure by throwing a knife into the crate beside Manu's head.
  • Twincest: Manu sexually desires his twin sister Nat, and attempts to grope her and has to dragged off her by her boyfriend. Nat, for her part, considers this disgusting and wants no part of it.
  • Villain Protagonist: The film centres on Dobermann and his gang, who are in no way heroic. However, the police are almost as bad.
  • Would Harm a Child: Christini. As an interrogation technique, he gives Oliver's infant son a live grenade to play with. Earlier, he threw the child across a room without really caring if his partner was there to catch it or not.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The Abbot shoves a grenade inside the crash helmet of the police officer who killed Pitbull's dog. He and then Leo then shove the unfortunate officer out of the car, where he struggles in vain to remove the helmet before his head explodes.