© Constantin Film Verleih GmbH

Germany 2018

Opening 30 Aug 2018

Directed by: Detlev Buck
Writing credits: Constantin Lieb, Cüneyt Kaya
Principal actors: Samuel Schneider, Ella Rumpf, Jannis Niewöhner, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Oktay Özdemir

Literally, Asphaltgorillas could mean cement apes and every once in a while the camera moves to show a gorilla in a zoo. But here “gorilla” is the general term for a gangster on the streets (asphalt) in Berlin. Atris lives with his mother, two sisters, and grandfather. His mother introduces him to young women in the hopes he will marry. “Only a wife can show you the way to success.” She doesn’t know that he is a small-time drug dealer under the thumb of gangster boss El Keitar. His old school friend Franky aspires to greater heights himself. At the moment he is living with his rich, blond girlfriend Oxana and her father and driving their blue Lamborghini. Atris and Franky meet unexpectedly and renew their friendship. They plan a hype involving 200,000 euros. Now we are on our way through Berlin’s underworld: nighttime, dim lights on back streets, drugs, prostitution, counterfeit money, etc. We step through this dangerous environment of chases, shootings, threats, beatings, etc. There is not only El Keitar, but also Duc, the head of the Viet Nam mafia.

Don’t worry if you cannot always identify each character or understand where the plot is going. Just sit back and enjoy the action. This is light-weight with a slight leaning towards some lessons about friendship. Director Dieter Buck has collected a wonderful cast, all of whom have some connection to Germany, although many originated from other countries such as Croatia, Lebanon, Turkey, Mongolia, Austria, etc. Watch for the Viet Nam Mall which a colleague says truly exists in Berlin. The music (over 13 songs) carries the action forward; it’s never boring or distracting. Watch for the black and white plaid bag. And then there is the dog Platon who swallows an important key. The original idea for the film originates from a story by Ferdinand von Schirach called Der Schlüssel (The Key). (Becky Tan)

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