Release Year: 2003
Studio: MHz Networks
Format: Colour; widescreen; NTSC
Rated: Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes: 2 / 6
Running Time: 552 minutes
DVD Release Date: August 27, 2013
Screenwriters: Philippe Setbon
Directors: Patrick Jamain
Actors: Alain Delon, Jacques Perrin; Sophie Von Kessel
DVD Features: SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating: 9/10
MHz Networks Write-up:
He’s Lost His Past, He’s Lost His Roots – But Not His Enemies. Legendary French stage and screen actor Alain Delon (Rene Clement’s Purple Noon, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai and Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers) stars as Frank Riva, an ex-undercover cop called in from retirement after 25 years of exile to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murder of his brother in a drug sting operation. He soon finds himself back on the trail of the notorious Loggia crime family, who had put a bounty on his head during the French Connection days. Frank is forced to pick up the pieces of a life he left behind a quarter of a century ago: his old flame Catherine, Nina Rizzi, the daughter he never knew, and Xavier Unger, his former partner, now chief of the Paris police. He must also put together a new team to confront the Loggia gang: superintendent Lydie Herzog, his nominal superior, the headstrong Captain Herve Sebastian, and rookie computer whiz Juliette Janssen. Frank Riva is a police officer who follows his instinct and refuses to be deflected from his mission, a man who ignores social convention and flouts rules and regulations, and who lives according to his own deep conviction of right and wrong.
Jon Ted Wynne Review:
It is amazing what a difference it makes having a genuine star heading the cast. It is undeniably Alain Delon’s star power that gives FRANK RIVA it’s gravitas.
One of the most enjoyable cop shows to come along in awhile, all six episodes of this outstanding mini-series are extremely well done. There are a number of clever twists and turns but the real distinguishing element is Delon. Looking world-weary and truly like an exile (Riva went into hiding 25 years ago after having infiltrated the highest levels of organized crime). Delon’s acting is effortless and he just lets everyone else come to him. There is a scene in the last episode, when Delon as Riva is on the run, having been falsely accused of murder. Of course his closest friends and co-workers in the police seek to help him clear his name and wind up meeting him in a pool hall. They enter as one, drawn to the super-cool Riva, sitting nonchalantly on the edge of a pool table. It is moments like this that cannot be acted, they simply are, and only a true star can make it work.
The casting sessions for FRANK RIVA must have been something to behold–all the women in this mini-series are gorgeous. At the top of the list, in this reviewer’s opinion, is Sophie Von Kessler as Riva’s immediate boss Superintendent Lydie Herzog. Being a beautiful professional in her mid-thirties makes Lydie quite the catch, but she immediately sets her sights on Riva. Were he played by almost any other actor this would seem foolish, but Delon–in his late sixties when this was filmed in 2003–is wholly believable as the object of her interest.
FRANK RIVA is one of those programs that you want to watch back to back right through, but to do so is to forgo the experience of savouring each episode. This high-quality cop show breathes new life into the genre, again predominantly because of Delon’s presence. He also co-produced the program so credit must fall to him for the overall production as well as his central performance.
In an era when anti-heroes and mavericks continue to rule the law and order roost, Delon’s Frank Riva stands out. Described as existing in a grey area Riva is, in fact, very black and white. His integrity and sense of right and wrong is like a core of steel. He is a true traditional hero in this sense, and that is why he is so compelling to watch. He’s also deeply sensitive and his openness to showing affection not only to his friends but to babies and even his cat, make him even more likeable. He doesn’t have to be tough, he just is.
His 25 years away from the game may mean he has to shake off some rust, but Frank Riva lives and breathes his job. You’ll be following him every step of the way.