True connoisseurs of deep, dark, and violent humor usually have to search hard or wait long — it’s taken more than a decade for the video release of Bertrand Tavernier’s clever adaptation of crime novelist Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280, here transplanted to French equatorial Africa in the ’30s as Coup De Torchon. Lucien Cordier (Noiret) may be a bounder of a cop, a little thick, and more than a bit corrupt, but he turns out to be not quite as ineffectual as he seems, especially after he starts heeding the advice that ”you gotta give it back twice as hard” — like with both barrels. More chilling still, this complex exploration of good, evil, and human responsibility is really an apt parable for such times as ours, when the pinched are provoked by misfortune to put the squeeze on the even more hapless bugger next door. B+

Coup De Torchon
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