Fantomas II: Juve vs. Fantomas


I ended the previous week’s installment with the discussion of the same basic detective plot being repeated in not only this serial but the serials of modern-day. The plots of these serials could have easily been extensions of the ongoing plots in the most popular detective series today. However the action clearly predates the elaborate action sequences seen in films today. The centerpiece of this film is a train chase. In this train chase, Fandor (Juve’s Watson. He is a journalist who helps out Juve while also writing about his exploits in the local newspaper) chases after a young woman thought to be connected to the villain. However Fandor doesn’t know that Fantomas (the villain) is also on the train and that they are planning to rob a rich and pervy old man. In order to destroy the evidence and also get rid of Fandor who he sees on his heels, Fantomas unceremoniously detaches the coach car from the rest of the train. Fandor jumps out just in time to see the car crash into an express train. The screen turns blood-red as the camera pans over the wreckage, hinting at the carnage that the camera is too delicate to show. Thinking that Fandor is dead and his booty destroyed by the wittiness of the bank, Fantomas tries to find Juve and get more loot for no real reason other than he wants to be rich. Juve is tipped off by a still alive Fandor as to his whereabouts and he goes to an abandoned beach full of barrels. He shoots at a barrel with a man behind it only to find out that it is Fandor, his friend. But the danger is not over. Once they are reunited, they are both shot at by Fantomas’ men. The barrels contain alcohol, the devil’s juice. So they are set on fire by Fantomas’ men hoping to capture Juve and Fandor in a flame filled death. But they are cunning and decide to hop in a barrel and roll it into the ocean where they get out of it and swim. The action set pieces go on and on until at the end, Fantomas has lured Juve and Fandor into a house where they thought he was living. Fantomas barricades the door and sets the house on fire. The last shot is a black hooded Fantomas spreading his arms out as if in triumph against the burning house. Do Juve and Fandor get out? Again the classic cliffhanger comes into play here. The suspense is suspect because you know there are several more installments of these films, but what is anticipatory is how Fantomas will get away again.

Like The Expendables, this film hinges on the action shots, so it becomes boring after seeing so many of them. Fantomas gets away again and again, and yet there seems to be no stakes to his escape or his being caught. It is more like a mere cat and mouse chase that always seems to go on for all eternity. There is barely any mention of the plot except to know that Fantomas is being chased by Fandor and Juve.  It was worth the watch for intellectual purposes and to also witness the last shot. I just hope the next installment brings some sort of other element besides Fantomas, Juve and Fandor into the picture.


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