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Foreign Comedy - Poland - Vabank II

Vabank II
Jan Machulski, Witold Pyrkosz, Leonard Pietraszak
Directed by Juliusz Machulski
Poland 1985
Polish with English subtitles
Polart Video and Facets Multimedia 2006
101 minutes

On the heels, well, four years later, of his very successful crime comedy Vabank director Jan Machulski made the follow-up mystery comedy Vabank II. Machulski hired the same great Polish actors as the first time around, including his father Jan Machulski. The story of Vabank II - SPOILER ALERT-is what happens after banker Gustav Kramer, who was sent to prison after a brilliant robbery and set-up by his nemesis Henryk Kwinto, breaks out of jail and sets his sights on revenge. If you like Polish comedy movies or a really funny mystery DVD, this movie set in Poland in the very late thirties is something you will definitely enjoy.

Vabank II is a deft little movie. Machulski's preference in comedy is subtlety and a few sight gags here and there such as the jail director's ruler bit and his being locked up as a prisoner after Kramer the banker escapes. This comedy is also a movie within a movie as Kwinto, Kramer's sworn enemy, is now involved with a film crew and uses these skilled people to enact his revenge again. Another funny bit is when a hitman wears a full body armor suit to do his job or when someone dressed as a huge baby bottle follows Kwinto around. There are also a lot of laughs at the expense of human nature here which is what, in part makes Vabank and Vabank II such fun Polish comedy films.

Kramer escapes from jail with the promise he will give a cut of the money he has hidden in Switzerland to the man who helped him. Once out, however, Kramer refuses to leave Poland and get the loot until Kwinto is dead. This forces the former bank robber and now jazz trumpet player to match wits with his nemesis again especially after the latter kidnaps his niece. The surprise Kramer springs on Kwinto is particularly devilish and, in a way, comic.

Though Vabank suffered from rather bad subtitling this is not the case for Vabank II even if the job is still not perfectly done. It would also have been nice to have English subtitles instead of German for the scenes in Germany.  Print wise, this mystery comedy DVD does feature a sometimes dusty and sometimes grainy film. If you have not seen the first film in this series, the second may not have as much charm but Vabank II is still a very enjoyable little comedy. Watching both these Polish comedies makes for an interesting evening.

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