Edinburgh International Film Festival

Darkland (2017)

Starring: Dar Salim, Stine Fischer Christensen, Ali Sivandi, Anis Alobaidi

Directed by: Fenar Ahmad

Rating: 1 2 3

Zaid (Dar Salim) has a pretty cushy life. A well-to-do surgeon, he's escaped his immigrant roots and now lives in a swanky apartment with his pretty wife, who's expecting their first baby. The couple spend their evenings drinking fine wine with their well-to-do friends, and everyone is happy and smug and self-satisfied, thank you very much.

Until, that is, Zaid's younger brother Yasin (Anis Alobaidi) comes knocking at his door, desperate for money after a bank job has gone wrong. His brother, it seems, has not escaped the streets.

Smug Zaid refuses – a decision he comes to regret when Yasin is beaten to a pulp and dies ftom his injuries.

Wracked with guilt, Zaid sees only one way forward. After admittedly quite a lot of sitting around talking in Danish (most of which I slept through – I really am the world's worst film reviewer...) suddenly we're mid training montage as our hero transforms hinself into a black-clad, sharp-shooting ninja warrior, primed to attack the slick, ruthless gangboss who put his brother down. Handy, then, that he already looks like a cut-price Vin Diesel...

Dar Salim as Zaid in Danish thriller Darkland

Like so many vengeance films, Darkland proves only too grimly how violence can only beget further violence. For Zaid, revenge is not the solution, it simply compounds the problem, racheting up the body count and stripping him of everything he cares about, endangering all he loves.

But hell, we'll enjoy the violence while it's on screen, because there are some marvellously brutal set pieces to be relished here, particularly as the film draws to an inevitably bloody close.

Dar Salim as Zaid and Ali Sivandi as Semion in Darkland

Not an original concept then, but, with a hero from a Muslim immigrant background and issues of integration touched upon, the film does its best to reframe a traditional martial arts movie trope for 21st century Denmark.

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