From the magical year of 1986 comes a hard-boiled crime flick directed by peddler of Euro porn, Michel Caputo, and starring France’s greatest porn star, Brigitte Lahaie. Lahaie is Martine — a tough as nails cop who has to take down a gang of snuff and bestiality producing pornographers after they kidnap a girl. Cue gun fights and lots of running. So obviously with all that in mind, this is fucking amazing, right? Uh… well…
France, 1986, Michel Caputo
L’exécutrice opens strongly enough. Martine storms the aforementioned gang of scuzzy pornographers who she accuses of peddling “baby porn” among other upsetting stuff. There’s gunfire and a helicopter. It’s pretty great. She then sets her sites on taking down Madame Wenders (Dominique Erlanger), the head of the crime syndicate responsible for the foul skin flicks. Martine’s efforts are routinely disrupted by her corrupt police commissioner (Michel Modo), who is secretly obsessed with Wenders.
Scumbag Wenders, her scumbag son, and her pack of equally scumbag employees set about kidnapping a girl for some reason. Martine teams up with Valmont (Pierre Oudrey) — a gruff, racist but hunky cop — in her private war against Wenders. Valmont has issues of his own and, in a bizarre and eventually convenient subplot, carries a photo around of the guy who killed his partner (cop partner, not romantic partner).
L’exécutrice is not so much bad as it is lifeless. Though it cuts frantically from scene to scene, its speedy delivery means that nothing has impact. Characters deliver a weighty threats, then we instantly cut away without seeing the consequences. By not dwelling on certain moments and with scenes so brutally sliced to smithereens, the film becomes extremely jarring. Weirdly enough, cutting it short makes it feel much longer than its 86 minute running time.
Michel Caputo does the impossible and manages to make a film from 1986, surely the most garish year in cinema’s history, look flat. There’s nothing really bad about the way the film is shot, but there’s no passion to be found. The only exceptions to this are the scenes that take place on porn sets. They have an appropriately sleazy vibe, perhaps brought to life by Caputo’s own experience in the porn industry. That said, considering this film’s links to porn in its crew and cast and its porn-peddling plot, it plays things very safe with even its sleazier moments being pretty vanilla.
The performances are L’exécutrice‘s best assets. Oudrey overacts his way through the film, which assisted in keeping my eyes open. I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of Brigitte Lahaie. She has an amazing presence, and she would have made a great bad-ass cop had this film been better made. Still, she certainly doesn’t come off looking bad at any point and practically carries the film start to finish.
L’exécutrice picks up the pace in its last ten minutes, which made me wish it spent more time focusing on the revenge aspect of its plot that kicks in during the finale. It might be a messy failure of a film, but this is at least an interesting curio in Lahaie’s career. And really, L’exécutrice isn’t all that bad. It’s just that with its incredible set up, I can’t help but find it a disappointment.
L’exécutrice is available on DVD in France, but, no surprises, no English subtitles. There are, however, some fan subs floating about.