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DVD review

Unit One

added: 21 Jan 2013 // release date: 21 Jan 2013
certificate: Cert 15 // director:
studio: Arrow Films // film length 522 min approx.
reviewer: Claudia A

Unit-One Printable version
This fast-paced and hard-hitting crime series is already over a decade old. Cashing in on the fact that one of its former cast members, Mads Mikkelsen, has since advanced to international stardom thanks to The Hunt and Casino Royale, Denmark’s UNIT ONE finally gets its DVD debut over here. Viewers will be in for a treat!

In 2002, the series won an International Emmy Award for ‘Best Drama Series', while in the same year, Mads Mikkelsen received the ‘Best Actor’ award at TvFestival.dk. for his role as detective inspector Allan Fischer.

Based on real-life crimes which occurred across the last two decades, UNIT ONE follows an elite mobile police force dispatched to assist local police in some of the most complex and often disturbing cases Denmark has ever seen.

Central character is, for once, a woman – namely detective chief inspector Ingrid Dahl (superbly portrayed by Charlotte Fich). Promoted to a leadership position, she initially has a hard time gaining the respect of her team and her superior, Ulf Thomson (Erik Wedersøe).
Other regular team members are La Cour (Lars Brygmann), an intuitive and almost psychic detective inspector, as well as sassy junior member Gaby Levin (Trine Pallesen). An attractive Scandinavian blond, she usually keeps her calm and by doing so, keeps the unit together.
Then there’s big-hearted detective inspector I.P. (Waage Sandø), and forensic pathologist Jan Boysen (Michael Falch).
The Unit furthermore ‘employs’ former soccer star turned truck owner/operator Johnny Olsen (Lars Bom), albeit on an unofficially basis. In fact, there’s an ongoing “Is this THE Johnny Olsen?” joke running through the entire series.

What makes the program so realistic and convincing is not only the fact that each case is based on true events, but that the members of UNIT ONE are portrayed as human beings complete with flaws and weaknesses, as opposed to their often ‘super hero’ American counterparts.

While each episode deals with a separate case that gets solved in the end (unless it’s a Part 1 & 2 scenario), the private lives of our team develop with each episode and gradually, we find out more and more about them. Affairs, team spirit, jealousies, ambition, loss, prejudice, love, lust, disappointments, work commitments versus family time… the whole scale of human emotions gets laid bare.

In the same vein, the darker side of human nature is also exposed, each crime seemingly more senseless and bizarre then the previous one. Schizophrenic lovers, mother-fixated serial rapists, gangland revenge, unpredictable drug addicts – there’s hardly ever time for a decent lunch break in the offices of UNIT ONE.
It’s as graphic as it is explicit (you couldn’t call the Danes sexually repressed!), but this serves to emphasize the story as opposed to wallow in exploitative sensationalism.

The 3-Disc Set features Series One (in Danish, with English subtitles). It’s so addictive, I can’t wait for Series Two, Three and Four of this gripping Nordic Noir!

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