Diamond Cartel: An Medium Kazakh Crime Thriller
This Kazakhstani production took its time in seeping out to the West, having originally been filmed over a three-year (!) spell back in 2011-13. While slickly produced, and with some impressive sequences of action, its storyline is garbled nonsense, to the point of almost being incomprehensible. And is utterly without heart or soul.
Millionaire crime-boss Musar (Assante) is negotiating the purchase of a renowned diamond from another gang. But the deal goes south, with both diamond and cash ending up in the hands of one of his assassins. Aliya (Mukhamedzhanova). She goes on the run with her former boyfriend (Frandetti), pursued by her more recent boyfriend, who is another one of Musar’s hitmen.
Which would be fine, if that’s what this was. But Diamond Cartel (Phi Vu Kim Cuong) muddies the waters terribly, with secondary plots, a bevy of superfluous characters. And a convoluted flashback structure which explains how Aliya went from a casino croupier to part of Musar’s posse. In some ways, that story would probably have been more interesting that the one actually told. Not least because of all the other leather-clad hitwomen he keeps hanging around his lair. Not that they appear to do much; outside of the attempted double-cross at the diamond handover. They are notable by their absence from the action elements, disappointingly.
I should instead talk about the Diamond Cartel‘s supporting cast, which is far more laden with Western stars than you’d expect from the source. Though by “laden”, this does include people with one scene, such as Michael Madsen. And by “stars”, beyond Assante. I mean people such as Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa. Bolo Yeung. Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson and Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister. But the name which stands out is Oscar-winner Peter O’Toole – sadly, in his final film role before his death in December 2013. Here, bizarrely, he plays a Kazakhstani customs agent. And it’s not even O’Toole’s own voice. Because his performance has been dubbed over, making for a sad end to a stellar career. Though he’s not alone in losing out in post-production, with even the lead actress. As well as her copious voice-over narration, being dubbed too.
The only aspects which pass muster are the technical ones in this action film (phim hanh dong 2020). Mukhammed-Ali seems to have studied at the same school of flashy visuals as the other Kazakhstan director, Timur Bekmambetov, who gave us Wanted and The Arena. It’s hard to deny that the frequent car-chases and shoot-outs here are handled with a decent degree of hyperviolent flair. But this is in pursuit of nothing having any significance. The plot falls somewhere between uninteresting and incoherent. And the audience will have little or no reason to care about even the reasonably photogenic lead, whose story this is supposed to be. It comes over as little more than a poorly-constructed exercise in stunt casting, with a succession of somewhat recognizable names, passing across the screen to trivial effect. I hope they at least got a nice holiday in Kazakhstan out of it.
Only one lusted glance brings Aliya to the events throwing her into the criminal ocean. But in the wirliging of passions and turmoil when she finds herself at the verge of fatality it’s only her true love that is the only rescue.Now the most important thing for Aliya is to preserve the honor and dignity and the whole world will be at our feet.
Director: Salamat Mukhammed-Ali
Writers: Magamet Bachaev (screenplay), Salamat Mukhammed-Ali (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Armand Assante, Karlygash Mukhamedzhanova, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa