The Code (La Mentale) (2002) (NTSC)

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Released 30-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Ride Or Die, Sin, The Pact Of Silence
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 106:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,3,4 Directed By Manuel Boursinhac

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Samuel Le Bihan
Samy Naceri
Clotilde Courau
Marie Guillard
Michel Duchaussoy
Philippe Nahon
Francis Renaud
Lucien Jean-Baptiste
Bibi Naceri
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Thierry Robin

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    La Mentale is the code of the French underworld. But not everyone follows the code.

    Dris has recently been released from jail after four years imprisonment. He is trying to go straight and settle down with his girlfriend Lise. However, he hasn't taken into account the determination of his friend Yanis, who wants him back in his gang and will stop at nothing to achieve this. Yanis is very intense, tends to act first and ask questions later, and is prone to outbursts of violence.

    Both Dris and Yanis are of Arab descent, making them outsiders even in the underworld. Mel, the younger brother of Dris, wants to be a mobster like Yanis, much to the dismay of his brother. Dris tries to shield him and keep him out of trouble. Meanwhile Nina, a Gypsy hooker and former lover of Dris, wants him back. Dris finds himself tempted by the high life and his relationship with Lise is put under immense pressure.

    Veteran mobster Feche tries to muscle in on on a nightclub protected by Yanis' gang. Confronted by Yanis, Feche backs down, or at least seems to. But Feche has plans of his own, and while Yanis plans a major heist, a series of events begins that will lead to a violent confrontation between the two mobsters.

    French gangster films from the 1930s onwards have always been heavily influenced by their American counterparts, and La Mentale is no different. This is a fairly straightforward gangster film, and could easily have been made in America. There are no real surprises here, with the characters at times coming close to being clichéd. That the film manages to be entertaining is in no small part due to the conviction and sincerity with which the story is told. There is none of the self-aware self-parodying winking to the audience that you get with many contemporary American crime films, nor is there any of the posturing and posing that makes them almost unwatchable.

    The direction by Manuel Boursinhac is not flashy and for the most part does not draw attention to itself. The action scenes are particularly well shot.

    The performances are all very good. Viewers will recognise Samuel Le Bihan from The Brotherhood of the Wolf as Dris. While he does not have great depth as an actor, he is quite believable as the former convict. Samy Nacéri, whose brother Bibi devised the scenario for the film and appears as Rouquin,  plays Yanis with considerable intensity, although he does occasionally go over the top. Clotilde Coureau is fine as Nina, and Michel Duchaussoy, barely recognisable as the protagonist from Chabrol's The Beast Must Die some 30 years earlier, is both menacing and inscrutable as Feche.

    I found this film to be quite entertaining, though I should point out that it contains extreme and realistic violence which may disturb some viewers.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality, apart from a few small problems, is pretty good. The major problem is that the first half of the film is grainy and a little soft-looking. There has been little or no attempt to remove film grain, but sometimes it seems to be too grainy. That being said, detail is still good. Shadow detail is exemplary.

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. This is an NTSC disc, which is disappointing given the lower resolution of this colour format.

    There is little in the way of bright colour in the film, but what is there is rendered truthfully. Blacks are generally good, but there is some low level noise present, with the worst example being at 31:32.

    Chroma noise can also be seen at 30:50, but this not a distraction.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change occurring at 55:09. It occurs during a change of scene and is not intrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality of this transfer is very good.

    The default audio track is the French 5.1 Dolby Digital track. Dialogue is clear at all times, and the sound is realistic, without excessive use of Foley effects. There are no audio sync issues.

    The excellent original music score by Thierry Robin is subtle and well integrated into the overall sound picture. The use of Gypsy and Arabic influences in the music adds to the interest.

    The surround channels are used well. A motorcycle speeding away at 3:10, and the noise of rain in the background from 60:26, sound realistic and add to the overall ambience. The subwoofer is used as it should be, to emphasize low level sounds without exaggeration. The subwoofer really only gets a workout during a scene in a discotheque.

    There is an alternate English language 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. Actually, this should be described as a US soundtrack. The slang and speech on this track is very American. Although lip sync is appalling and the voices do not suit the characters, it is actually quite amusing to listen to, particularly with the English subtitles turned on. There is only a little resemblance between the words spoken and the subtitles.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras package is somewhat disappointing.


    Four theatrical trailers are provided. None are enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and all have a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. One is the trailer for La Mentale (1:07), the others are Sin (1:39), Ride or Die (1:26) and The Pact of Silence (1:40)


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film has not been released on DVD in Region 1, though this being an NTSC disc with a American dubbed soundtrack suggests that a release may be planned.

    Two Region 2 DVDs are available. In the UK, a disc almost identical to the Region 4 is available. In comparison to the Region 4, the UK Region 2 disc misses out on

    In comparison to the UK Region 2 release, the Region 4 release misses out on:

    In comparison to the French Region 2 release, and allowing for this reviewer's poor linguistic skills, the Region 4 misses out on:

    Apart from the commentary, the extras are contained on a second disc.

    In comparison to the Region 4 release, the French Region 2 misses out on

    Unfortunately, unless you speak French, the Region 4 DVD is the one to have.


    This is an entertaining if formulaic gangster film played straight. Recommended for fans of French crime films, and may be of interest to others.

    The video quality is good if not of reference quality.

    The audio quality is very good.

    There are no extras of any note.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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