Sanja the Bandit after a particularly vicious shootout, stumbles into the musician Oleg at the local banya. Following a retelling of a semi-mythological story, the pair decide to make a pilgrimage to a "bell-tower of happiness".
Sergei and Simon have to deliver a suitcase full of heroin to Mikhalych or else they will be killed. There is one minor detail: the only problem-solving technique they are familiar with is ... See full summary »
Dariya the maid getting a boy to touch her large breast is just one incident that occurs when Yohan and Victor infiltrate two families, forcing young Liza and blind Ekaterina to appear in porn, but they are not so innocent themselves.
During the bloody war in Chechnya, a British couple and two Russian soldiers are taken hostage by Chechen rebels. Two of the hostages are then released to bring the money for the British woman who is forced to wait for the ransom.
Corrupted cops, street gangs, "bratki" on "bummers" and "merins", angry truck drivers, beautiful women and death are what four friends on a black bummer who set up on mission from one ... See full summary »
Balabanov considered this to be one of his best films.
Cinematically Cargo 200 is pretty solidly made, it is an effective period piece horror film laden with social commentary on the disintegrating Soviet system, just prior to its collapse a few years later. It discusses police corruption, alcoholism, the black market, the nepotism of the communist party, the Afghanistan war, and the party enforced 'scientific atheism'. It is likely not a coincidence that the key antagonist, played skillfully by Alexei Poluyan, resembles Stalin's head of secret police, Nikolai Yezhov (Poluyan had previously played the role of a ruthless Soviet secret police officer in Rogozhkin's "Chekist"), and that Felix Derzhinsky's bust figures prominently in one shot.
The characters are very real, performances are effective, the cinematic treatment is Balabanov's traditional medium to wide shot (with a more static camera than usual), accompanied by period pop tunes carrying the soundtrack. The drama is suspenseful, and what is implied off screen adds to it.
Personally I would have preferred if the story didn't enter horror territory (something Brother 1 and 2, and even War didn't do), that would make the social commentary more effective and broaden its audience (though Balabanov was a typical Russian director in that he didn't much care for public opinion). Having both combined in one is overload, although if you're a bonafide horror fan (which I'm not) your opinion may differ and feel free to add some more stars to my assessment.
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