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"I can't wait for the film to be released in France; they'll tear me to shreds and that'll be hilarious"  -Julie Delpy, on her role in An American Werewolf in Paris
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday September 23, 2018 

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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 original.

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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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

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