The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Review: A gloriously goofy French flick

It’s a shame this gloriously goofy French flick, from 2011. Didn’t get a big-screen release in North America. Because it is one of those juicy, chewy, pulpy adventures that is best appreciated flickering in the dark. Then again: the dreaded subtitles. And the hero is a chick, which — if we’re to believe Hollywood — no one wants to see.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (Xac Uop Ramesses) based on the comic books by Jacques Tardi. And adapted and directed by Luc Besson (Taken), this is what comic-book movies look like when they’re not blown up into $200 million monstrosities: friendly and eldritch and kinda cosy even in the middle of outrageous escapades.

The year is 1911, and lady journalist and adventurer Adèle Blanc-Sec (the gorgeous Louise Bourgoin) is somewhere in an Arabian desert, breaking into a dusty tomb

There’s a treasure map, bien sûr, and unsavory companions who cannot be trusted because they’re after gold while all she seeks is knowledge. (It’s very Raiders of the Lost Ark, in the best way.) There’s something she needs — ancient wisdom; magic even — to help her beloved sister. Who is in a bad way in a way that is hilarious in its ridiculous wrongness. Perhaps Patmosis, physician to pharaoh Ramses II, might have discovered the something she needs. She drags his mummy back to Paris… Where her friend Professor Espérandieu (Jacky Nercessian) has already tested his “bringing the dead back to life” weird-science on a museum-exhibit pterodactyl egg. Which has hatched and is now terrorizing the city.

So you know, the usual sort of Tuesday for a lady journalist and adventurer.

Bourgoin is an absolute delight as a woman surrounded by incompetents in this action adventure film (phim hanh dong vien tuong). The aforementioned unsavory companions, bumbling cops. And other guys who think their guyness automatically bestows awesomeness. And besotted would-be suitors who are not worthy of her. Though they might be worthy of tagging along to assist her as things get even weirder. And Besson gets the tone exactly right throughout. This genre-bending pulp stew would collapse into a steaming pile of its own absurdity with just a single wrong note. So it never does, and remains wonderfully silly fun.

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