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Day of Atonement (aka Le Grand Pardon II) 
Written by: on May 14th, 2011


Theatrical Release Date: France 1992
Director: Alexandre Arcady
Writers: Alexandre Arcady, Daniel-Saint Hamont, Marc Angelo
Cast: Roger Hanin, Richard Berry, Gerard Darmon, Christopher Walken
 
VHS Release: 1995
Run Times: (US Version) 127 Minutes / (French Version) 139 Minutes
Rating: R
VHS Release: Vidmark Entertainment
French DVD Release: StudioCanal


Synopsis: Paris, France, 1982. Raymond Bettoun (Hanin) is arrested for gunning down of a rival mob boss on a holiday. He turns himself into the police, leaving his at the time 3 year old grand-son Alexandre (Alexandre Aja) dazed & confused. We then come ten years later to the present day where Raymond is released from prison, finding out that his entire mob party has moved to Miami, Florida. He arrives for Alexandre’s bar-mitzvah. Our mob family here consists of Raymond, his son Maurice (Berry), Maurice’s girlfriend Joyce (played by Jennifer Beals). Maurice is a banker. Everything at the oversized party goes well until a client of Maurice named Emilio (Raul Davila) shows up, begging for money after one of his drug busts was raided by the police earlier in the film. Emilio & his closest assistant Sanchez (Robert Escobar) are invited to stay by Maurice.
 
Soon arriving at the bar-mitzvah is a character called Verdugo (Christian Fellat). He is an assassin of a character named Pasco Meisner. Emilio soon gets drunk and creates a disturbance up on the stage. After making a fool of himself, the next day at church, Emilio is gunned down from a school bus by Verdugo. Sanchez is later killed in the film along with his mother (Blanca De Abril).
 
After this and that, we are introduced to Christopher Walken’s character, Pasco Meisner. When we first see him, he is taunting his guard dogs, calling them “some of the stupidest dogs hes ever seen”. Him & Maurice set up a business deal. A ton of cocaine, for several million dollars. Maurice is feeling confident in the deal since his partner Eric Lemmonier (Jean-Francois Stevenin) met with a drug boss who calls himself “The Indian” (Gerard Darmon) to give them the cocaine. But soon afterwards, things go wrong. Horribly wrong when Maurice gets framed for murder, the cocaine deal with Meisner Is backed up, and all of the mob members of the Bettoun family are getting killed off by Pasco & his men.
 
Day of Atonement is a French film originally by father of horror director Alexandre Aja, Alexandre Arcady. Aja has a small role in the film as the grandson at only 13 years old. This film actually has several bigger people now in it. Walken, Beals. Jill Clayburgh, who may she rest in peace. Franck Khalfoun (Director of “P2”) makes an appearance as one of Maurice’s guards. Nick Savage (Club bouncer from “Fright Night”, and the gang banger from “Friday the 13th Part 3”) appears as Joseph, the Indians assistant. Day of Atonement throughout isn’t based on violence or death, but more as a storyline. It’s a slower movie and can almost be considered a drama. But there is still death, of course. I have counted somewhere around 22 people getting killed. Interesting ways. A lot of gun-downs, helicopter fall, exploding in truck, strangling. But, there is a lot of slow moments in the film, along of “time extension” scenes. The USA version is about 127 minutes long. While the theatrical French version is 139 minutes. Several scenes are cut out of the US version. Such as Sanchez & his mother being murdered, that is only in the French version. Along with other people being shot. But Day of Atonement, is a very slow film. Kind of boring at some points. But has an interesting story to it. So if your into story-based drama films. I’d recommend somehow getting the VHS of Day of Atonement.

The DVD:

Well, the movie never had a DVD release here in America. Only VHS & Laserdisc. The French had a DVD of it out called “Le Grand Pardon II”.  The VHS is presented in fullscreen, while the French DVD is in widescreen. Naturally, the US version has the screen very zoomed in compared to the French version. Picture for a VHS is actually pretty good. Not really any grain, pretty clear picture. VHS has 3 trailers before it. Vidmark Entertainment did a good job. The film was also dubbed, but I thought the dubbing was good. I just want to know why couldn’t they have dubbed & released the FULL French version here in the US on the VHS? Also, the films opening & end credits are presented in the 16:9 of the French version for some reason. Not a good move because the end credits are too small to be able to read. You’d need an electron microscope to be able to see the end credits.  

Music composed by Romano Musumarra was pretty good. I myself own the French CD soundtrack. So Day of Atonement, its long, 127 minutes (or 139 minutes compared as to what version you watch). If you like drama type movies, or slow movies based on storylines, I’d recommend Day of Atonement. Christopher Walken has seen better days in his career, mainly in this film because he is mainly paired up with the silent character of Verdugo. Action fans even might like it because even though the action sort of lacks, as I said, there’s a lot of death in this movie. 22 deaths, I counted

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