Short Sharp Shock | Chicago Reader

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This 1998 feature about three young immigrants in Hamburg—a Turk, a Greek, and a Serb—plays like a tamer version of John Woo's Bullet in the Head. Members of a small-time gang since childhood, they've grown close despite their ancient ethnic rivalries, but one of them wants to go straight after serving a jail term and the other two get mixed up with a brutal Albanian crime lord. Writer-director Fatih Akin captures the trio's chummy machismo in the face of their social disenfranchisement, but he's less successful at characterizing their three girlfriends, stoic creatures who only disrupt the male bonding. Despite references to German society and scenes of ethnic gatherings, this action flick could be set in the seedier districts of any port city. In German with subtitles. 100 min.

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