review

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The Independent Culture
Bad Boy Blues (BBC2, Saturday) was bound to raise comparisons with Reservoir Dogs. It asked for it. There were the plot similarities: the guns, the undercover cop, the disastrous "job", the moral crossover. And then there were the bits of lifted style: the second-from-opening scene which found the cop, AD (Maynard Eziashi), whimpering like Tim Roth in the bloodied back of a speeding car, the powerful (sometimes obvious: I hope I never have to see someone despair to the sound of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" again) soundtrack, the flashbacks signified by screen whiteout similar to the opening seconds of Dogs. TV was always the great scavenger.

But Biyi Bandele's screenplay had plenty of entertainment value nonetheless. The plot concerned that great staple, childhood friends who end up on opposite sides of the law: this time with the black guy as the cop and the white, Paul (Clive Owen), the hit-man. We learned that Paul's loose screw came from a dead soldier father and a tendency - not very PC, this - to epilepsy. How AD enlists in the Plod we never found out, and his family's total ignorance of the fact seems just a tad unlikely. Paul enlisted AD in an assassination and AD told his bosses, who were a bit bent (Big Cheese Copper had a posh accent like all the best Hollywood villains) and let the mark get killed. AD was pushed into killing Paul and Paul's mates wiped out AD.

This sounds a bit harsh. There were some lovely bits of dialogue and some creditable performances. You never quite got inside Eziashi's character, though as an actor he had considerable charm. And it's nice to see Clive Owen getting so much work again. I wasn't a fan of Chancer, but that staccato, deadpan delivery of his was just right for the part, and one always has to admire someone so good-looking who can make himself look so much like a weasel. Best of all, though, was Christopher Fulford, whose cardigan- clad minicab driver, trying to build up a bond with his kidnappers, brought out all one's protective instincts.

What was interesting about Bad Boy Blues, though, was that it was probably watched by a large number of people who refused to see the Tarantino on the grounds of violence. The one got a showing on primetime; the other an 18 certificate and a wash of notoriety. If one totted up the beatings, shootings and pistol-whippings that made it to the screen, Blues won hands down. So much for the censors.

Among the Least Likely to Have Watched list would have been the girlies (as the boys called them) in Encounters: Seven Go mad in Peru (C4, Sunday). Before their trip to the Amazon, 21-year-old "team leader" Will Butler- Adams voiced disquiet about the ability of Laura, 30 and Hayley, 21, to hack the trek. "One," he said, "because they're women physically, and two because they're vegetarians and they find getting their hands dirty with blood, dirty at all, difficult."

This seemed initially like Sloane pomposity, but he was quickly proved right. One would have thought that the brief "we're going to backpack for a month through primary jungle and eat what we find along the way" would have suggested a lack of home comforts, but whining on that scale hasn't been heard since the Princess of Wales's Panorama interview. "It's hell," says Laura. "I've never known so many insects. Some even get inside the hammocks at night." They spurned the snakes, tortoises and tree-rats killed for their sustenance. They griped about money, bonding, Will's selfishness with his "sweeties", and were disappointed by the Mayarunas Indians. "I gave them my gift," said Hayley, "and they just snatched it ... that's pretty rude in my book."

Before 10 minutes were up, we were rooting for the boys to ditch them. Eventually they did, and had a high old time yomping the Inca trail. This was an essay in naivety: not just because of these privileged youths' ignorance about primitive conditions, but because you'd have thought that everyone would know by now the slant a C4 documentary about graduates of Roedean would be likely to take.

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