Written by ex-cop turned actor and auteur Olivier Marchal and featuring a decent cast, French cop series Braquo came to these shores via the FX channel. A digital morsel served up to appeal to those who loved the excellent series of Spiral which have battled Wallander and The Killing for Saturday night slots on BBC4. Now appearing on blu-ray and DVD with a second season coming to your shops this summer, Braquo is every bit as gritty as Spiral whilst nowhere near as intelligent or realistic.Beginning with a young man effectively being tortured then disfigured by a world weary cop, this season follows a chain of stupid calls, bonehead plays and rank illegality as the code of honour of the cop team led by Eddy Caplan plays out. Caplan, played by the once gorgeous Jean Hugues Anglade (Betty Blue, Subway), leads his team of coke addict, daddy's girl and compulsive gambler through various screw ups which inadvertently explain why the criminals of Paris seem to be so dominant. He is a typical Marchal hero, sensitive, masculine and completely nonsensical - this supposed scourge of the bad guys and Internal Affairs lives on a very unprotected barge, robs banks and will kill, torture and maim for virtue.This first season is half directed by Marchal and half done by Frederic Schoendorfer (Switch, Paris Lockdown), and it is clearly strong in production values in order to attract two of the most popular of current French film-makers to the little screen. The nonsense that creates the cliffhangers and the complete haplessness of the sympathetic characters can occasionally grate but nowhere near as much as in Marchal's big screen outings MR73 or 36. Actually, given TV's need for constant audience encouragement to keep watching, Marchal's florid way with a plot twist or good sense suits the project quite well. There is nothing of real value to the politics of these four cops bucking the status quo, and the appearance of a clear conspiracy in episodes 7 and 8 which touches on global concerns is merely a silly attempt at gravitas. Braquo functions best as escapism that you really wouldn't want to give credence to or learn from in any way. As slick, cop TV with a fair degree of ludicrousness you can file this next to the likes of Whitechapel as a guilty pleasure.The blu-ray presentation from Arrow comes on two discs which are region free and extras empty. The episodes come with burnt in English subs and a lossless French stereo track which does its job nicely. The visual quality is very sharp and detailed and the production value is obviously on a par with cinema, my only real gripe is that when I viewed it at 24p on my setup motion was sluggish and I soon reverted to 60p for a better experience.
Overall, Braquo is preposterous entertainment and this release does a good job of delivering that to your door.