Embarrassing but fun downmarket turn by Daniel Auteuil
Daniel Auteuil is one of my all-time favorite French actors, but THE ASPHALT WARRIORS is probably his most embarrassing role. Oddly cast as a blue-jeans cop, swaggering along trying to look sexy, the master of subtlety and nuance is one big joke.
But it's a fun joke as he tries to avert a gang war in Paris, pitting Arabs vs. Blacks vs. Vietnamese vs. neo-Nazis. Sergio Gobbi, noted for decades of crime thrillers, tries to direct this with a straight face, but it plays as a parody of every dumb j.d. epic from WEST SIDE STORY to THE WANDERERS.
The original title "L'arbalete" refers to leading lady Marisa Berenson's nickname, rendered "Harpoon" in the English-dubbed version. As a streetwalker, Marisa is way too classy and simply not appropriate for the role, but she gives it the old college try. Though she's still quite active in Italy, her best roles all seem to have come in the early '70s at the outset of her career.
Auteuil fans should have a field day watching him horsing around here, with a poster for TAXI DRIVER looming in his apartment. Villain is well-played by Marcel Bozzuffi as the racist police captain who's behind a lot of the gang trouble.
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