Turkish cinema for most of us obscure movie lovers tends to be a steady diet of '70s and '80s Hollywood rip-offs and remakes, most often with the amazing Cüneyt Arkın. As fun as these films are, I figured there had to be more to the Turkish cinema scene than just the ADAM trilogy and its cousins... and there is. It seems that the Turks have embraced the Scandinavian police thriller just like we Americans did, but instead of doing the expected re-make (just like we Americans did), they decided to make their Scandinavian crime epic their own.
After Cheif Abbas (director Ugur Yücel) beats the hell out of some small-time perps, Celal gets a confession out of a robbery suspect by pretending to snort coke and telling him that he is going to rape his wife and make him watch. Looks like things haven't progressed much since "Midnight Express". To give some contrast (or perhaps soften their characters), Cheif Abbas has a relationship with a nightclub singer who is clearly far too young and good looking for him, but pines of getting married to him when he retires from the force in a month. Wait, a cop who is retiring? Oh, things aren't going to go well, are they? Celal's outlet is painting, which seems fairly innocuous except that they are rather grim expressionistic portrait paintings of the underbelly of society. Yes, in keeping with Scandinavian tradition, the inspector definitely has his share of issues.
It actually reads a bit better in context, but that florid dialogue actually lends a lot of charisma to the film. I particularly like how everybody uses phrases of the "god willing" variety. "God willing, we will catch the killer." So basically, if he gets away, that is God's fault and has nothing to do with slipshod policework. Where do I get a job like that?
I went searching for an example of modern non-ironic Turkish genre cinema and I came up with something that not only exceeded my expectations, but did an excellent job of reworking the Scandinavian police procedural into something more or less wholly Turkish. I guess you could nit-pick it all day for not being what you want it to be, for Celal's clumsy attempts at romance, for borrowing a bit of stylistic transitions from SE7EN (1995) and for leaving some plot holes and inconsistencies behind when they reveal the final twist. However, I think those are all minor quibbles compared to what the filmmakers do right. In spite of it's flaws, I found it highly entertaining and definitely a nice antithesis to the dreadfully over-dramatic BBC Wallander adaptations.