FRENCH CONNECTION II: DVD
Gene Hackman reprises his Oscar-winning role as hard-bitten New York detective Popeye
Doyle, now ordered to Marseilles to assist French Inspector Henri Barthelemy (Bernard
Fresson) in bringing Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) and the narcotics ring he uncovered
years earlier to justice. Doyle's questionable police tactics are restricted by
"those frogs" he is forced to work with, and when Charnier gets wind he's in
town, his goons not only kidnap the crooked cop but humiliate him by shooting him up and
turning him into a junkie. The extremes of heroin addiction - and quitting cold turkey -
are shown in graphic detail before Doyle cleans up and seeks retribution.
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
With Roy Schneider inexplicably absent from this sequel to the 1971 Oscar-winning
original, Popeye Doyle is at it again - this time accusing even the French of
"picking their feet in Poughkeepsie." French Connection II is a longer, somewhat
quieter, and less frenetic film than the original, with new director John Frankenheimer
showing us a very different side of France than we're used to.
As his audio commentary reveals on this DVD (separate to the original film's 2-disc set),
he lived in France for many years and knew it wasn't all like the Champ Elysees.
Frankenheimer thus takes us into Marsielle's underbelly as much as Friedkin did into New
York's decaying neighbourhoods, where even the gendarmes are a craggy looking bunch. He
praises Hackman as the best film actor working, and marvels at his willingness to endure
the infamous (and long) withdrawal sequence drunk and in pain. Hackman also has a few
things to say about this overwrought sequence on his separate audio commentary with
producer Robert Rosen.
Apart from this, the commentaries don't reveal anything too riveting about the film's
making. Frankenheimer does prattle on, however, about how he altered situations from the
original - especially Doyle's character-arc - who in one sequence all but admits how
lonely he is to a French-speaking bartender. Frankenheimer also discusses why he chose to
omit English subtitles during the French-speaking parts; to give audiences the feeling of
what Doyle was going through, fighting crime without speaking the language.
This sequel is not without its flaws. The French characters are nowhere near as strong as
Doyle, so he overpowers them; much as he did his fellow cops and crooks in the original.
It might not have been so bad if the film didn't run for 114 minutes, but at that length
the supporting characters come out rather thin. Yet Frankenheimer is a great action
director (as proved later in Paris and Nice with Ronin), and his fabulous action sequences
by the pier, in a hotel, and on foot are handled with as much dialogue-free flair as the
The sequel ultimately suffers from the not being based on a true story (unlike the
original), and its harrowing, over-long withdrawal sequence plays out like little more
than an exercise in great acting. Still, it's hard to own the original without owning the
sequel, even if it is inferior.
Published February 28, 2002
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FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975)(M)
You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia
CAST: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Bernard Fresson, John Pierre Castaldi, Charles
DIRECTOR: John Frankenheimer
RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes
Audio Commentary By Director John Frankenheimer ; Audio Commentary By Actor Gene Hackman
and Producer Robert Rosen ; Theatrical Trailer (English, Spanish, Portuguese)
Picture Galleries; Screen Format: 16:9 ; Audio English 2.0 ; Subtitles: Czech, Norwegian,
Danish, Polish, Finnish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Swedish, Hungarian, Icelandic and Turkish
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: February 13, 2002