Monday, December 18, 2006

 

John Gotti Meets Tony Soprano

In Vitaly Dyomochka:
In 2003, flush with extortion money, Dyomochka told his leather-jacketed, thick-necked associates that he wanted to make a crime series. Not a Hollywood-style blockbuster, but their very own lowlife hustles brought to the screen with all the verisimilitude of real goons playing real goons.

When one of his underlings laughed at the apparent absurdity of it all, Dyomochka-- channeling Robert De Niro's Al Capone--whacked him with a baseball bat.

That, at least, is how it played in the movie, called "Spets," a Russian abbreviation of specialist.

The nine-hour, seven-part series tracks the gang's feuds with rival groups as they jostle for control of scams in and around a massive secondhand car market in Ussuriysk.

Cars are a particularly lucrative source of underworld cash in the Far East because of the huge numbers of used vehicles imported from Japan and destined for sale across Russia. And Dyomochka was the uber-outlaw of Ussuriysk.

As well as turning his own buddies into actors, Dyomochka enlisted some rival gangs, a Ussuriysk theater troupe and cameramen from the local television station.

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