If Johnny Depp appeared in a remake of Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up Doc (1972) it would be an experience akin to his Russian equivalent, Sergei Bezrukov, starring in a remake of their classic, Gentleman of Fortune (1971).
Well, with a touch of licence, that’s what the research showed. Not that the films have anything in common except their screwball nature but you get the drift of how important it would be to film buffs to have a famous movie from 40 years ago reprised.
Bezrukov’s website shows him to be the Soviet Union’s most popular star and he gives a tidy performance in this very funny story that only loses its way towards the finish when it becomes a bit campy and sterotypical, even ending with a Bollywood finale. What was intended here is difficult to fathom because the majority of the film moves at a cracking pace and the humour is more than just a slight cracking of the lips type of appreciation.
Lesha Troshkin (Bezrukov) is the dead ringer of evil villain Smiley, whose gang has just stolen the armour of the Golden Warrior, a Kazakhstan national treasure. Mistaken for the crook when a wanted poster appears on the streets, Troshkin is press-ganged into impersonating Smiley to find out information on the treasure’s location. He is sent to Egypt where gang members are in jail, having escaped an execution organised by their boss. These two nincompoops are amateurs out of their depth in serious crime and happy to be in prison away from Smiley’s reach. Enter Troshkin in his impersonation and the humour cranks up as all three basically good people seem unaware that the others aren’t tough at all.
Troshkin’s controller is a police woman (Marina Petrenko), daughter of the police chief who doesn’t want a fellow officer as his daughter but prefers to see her as a potentially married woman providing him with grandchildren. She plays it hard and tough to get a result that will make her father proud.
Reading the above it sounds all a bit predictable but the plot turns and sight gags were different to the way a Western writer or director would have gone and that was refreshing.
Bezrukov is handsome and funny and Petrenko is beautiful and engaging with an ensemble cast of players providing a good night’s entertainment.
FOOTNOTE: It would have received 4 stars if not for the fight scene amongst deadly machinery in the steel factory and the wedding sequence at the end.