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Outside the Law [Blu-ray]

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In this 2011 Oscar Nominee for Best Foreign Film, three brothers fight for Algeria's independence from France in the aftermath of WWII. Spurred by vivid memories of the Setif Massacre and their family's ejection from their homeland, the brothers (Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, and Sami Bouajila) take aim at French authorities in Paris. This sweeping, controversial film from writer-director Rachid Bouchareb puts an interesting spin on the Occupied-France resistance movie...in that the French are the evil bullies instead of ze Germans.

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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Palisades Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2011
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0052T1ECC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,539 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 23, 2011
Format: DVD
Writer Director Rachid Bouchareb's first view of the Algerian involvement in France's participation in World War II as the extraordinary DAYS OF GLORY from 2006. Now he continues his story of the bravery of the Algerians in OUTSIDE THE LAW (HORS-LA-LOI) using many of the same actors but placed in different roles. This is a fast-paced film that covers a lot of territory and time and gives an insider's view of how the Algerian soldiers and the Algerian people struggled post WW II to gain freedom from French colonization. On many levels the films works well: on the level of character development and audience empathy it stumbles - but doesn't fall.

The film opens in 1925 when a family in Algeria faces the French representative who informs a family that the government is taking their ancestral land and home: Le père (Ahmed Benaissa), La mère (Chafia Boudraa) and their three sons Saïd, Messaoud and Abdelkader. Understandably devastated they pack their scant belongings and leave. Jump to 1945 and the massacre of Setif, an event that forces the family to disperse: La mère with Saïd (Jamel Debbouze) move to a shantytown for Algerian refugees outside Paris and Saïd becomes involved with organized crime in Pigalle to support his mother (he begins as a pimp, then as a Cabaret owner, and moves into more dangerous activities such as fixed boxing matches, etc). Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) has become a soldier with the French army in the fruitless war in Indochina (Vietnam) and observes as the French retreat that external colonization of a country will always fail because of the inherent patriotism of the indigent people.
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Format: DVD
This is another offering from French film maker Rachid Bochareb and it is the sequel to the acclaimed `Days of Glory' and indeed stars the same actors. Most notably is Jamel Debbouze as `Said as the youngest brother in the family'. The first part dealt with the African colonial forces that helped France rid herself of Nazi occupation. This takes it a stage further to when those same soldiers fight against France for the self determination of Algeria.

The film is predominantly in French with a fair smattering of Arabic and some pretty good sub titles. It starts in 1925 with the family being thrown off their ancestral land by the French and then takes us on a tour of the many low points for France heading toward the painful birth of Algeria. We even have the massive defeat of the French by the Vietnamese at Dien Bien Phu thrown in. This is not a war movie, even though there is plenty of action, and I have to say it gets the thumbs up for attention to period detail. There are depictions of the massacres that took place in both Algeria and Paris too and the only punches pulled are those in the boxing ring that Said sets up as one of his nefarious money making deals.

It deals with the inter political rivalry of the FLN and the MNA, the two leading and conflicting Algerian parties are shown in their brutal reality. It has a noir feel about it in places and shows the crushing poverty that drives people to do extraordinary things. It is well acted, well directed and beautifully shot. It has been criticised for being anti French, but it is really anti colonial and some might see this as a post revisionist guilt trip, but I think it is a slice of awkward history from Frances' recent past.
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Format: DVD
A surprise nominee for Best Foreign Film at the 2010 Academy Awards, the Algerian film "Outside the Law" is an accomplished film with an epic sweep. Documenting the long struggle for Algerian independence from French rule, the film covers much historical territory that had yet to be presented in a fictional narrative format. I suppose this is primarily why the film has caused such a stir--including local protestations when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. There is no denying that Algeria suffered at the hands of France, the film makes this point well. But the film tries to humanize the story by focusing on one family (specifically three brothers) who lived through the tumultuous time. While the scope and intentions of the film are on target, the individual story is a tad expected and surprisingly aloof. From a technical perspective, the film looks terrific--but the characters never felt fully realized so much of the film's emotional impact was sadly muted.

Much of the disconnect comes from the narrative structure as time advances abruptly through the decades. Just as you get close to dramatic consequence, the film fast forwards to the next sequence months or even years into the future. At the heart of the story are three brothers--initially a soldier, an activist, and a hustler. The movie starts in their boyhood as their homeland is ripped away from them, but the film soon advances decades to the military occupation and massacre within the city they now reside in. With one brother imprisoned in France, one fighting in Indochina, and one scrambling to get his mother to safety after an act of retribution--events realign themselves for the remaining narrative to occur on French soil. Here, everyone reunites in a working class ghetto.
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