Here’s a ferocious little gangland thriller with a Persian twist.
“The Persian Connection” is a gangster picture set among Iranian ex-pats living, loving and dallying in the dark side of LA as they grapple with their tortured past.
Reza Sixo Safai, in a career-making performance, is Behrouz, a hustler/junkie/fixer struggling to “go clean” by moving into real estate in Los Angeles.
But his past won’t let him. Behrouz was once a Basiji, an Iranian boy conned into becoming a child soldier/martyr by the Ayatollah and his minions. They ran an elaborate con on kids recruited to fight and die in the Iran/Iraq War of the 1980s, dressing up actors in Medieval armor, plumes and scimitar to convince them an ancient warrior had returned from the grave to lead them to victory over the Iraqi apostates.
Decades later, Behrouz still smokes black tar opium, takes care of the spawn of an Iranian crime boss, Cirrus-jar (Parfiz Sayyad), sleeps with a Russian hooker (Helena Mattson) and dreams of taking her and her young son Sacha away from all this violence and depravity.
Of course, Cirrus-jar isn’t having that. He’s going to deal with Sacha’s competing dealer-dad (Nikolai Kinski) by making it Behrouz’s lethal business to take care of the guy.
It’s all about blackmail, competing drug regimes and competing loyalties, as Behrouz tries to skate over the mayhem bubbling beneath him and escape his bloody past.
If you understand the phrase “genre picture,” you know just how impossible that will be.
Women (Laura Harring among them) throw themselves at our hero, who is “fighting for a place in the sun…Or do you prefer the shadows?”
Men (Dominic Rains among them) knew Behrouz back when he was a child warrior for Allah, which is how he developed his taste for opium, his skills at poker and his ability to swing both ways, sexually.
“How many men did we bury together?”
Somehow, events have to transpire to park Behrouz, Oksana his love and the killer Persians (Cirrus-ray) and Russians (Julian Sands, remember him?) in a place where all this confusion, menace and murder can be settled, once and for all.
Safai is a Persian Clive Owen in this part, a long and lean villain trying to go clean by fighting, stabbing, shooting and double-crossing his way out of his various entanglements, all for the love of a Belorussian hooker and the son Behrouz’s actions left fatherless.
“The Persian Connection” is a movie of lurid, neon-colored set-pieces (clubs, motels, etc.) where violence is meted out to the unjust by the just. If you don’t know how this will play out, this must be your first gangland thriller.
A stand-out moment — a gun slinging newcomer from Persia (David Diaan), so fresh that he doesn’t speak the language, empties a clip at Berhouz in a fit of rage. His employer demands, “Where do you think you ARE?”
“In America,” he fires back, where any nut or terrorist or gangster can get a gun and use it with little threat of repercussions.
It’s a B-movie, start to finish, a film noir with Americo-Persian flourishes, but a formula picture in any event. “The Persian Connection” still manages scenes that pop, violence that shocks (and satisfies) and performances that remind us that in the United States, movie stars come from all races and classes. Eventually.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with graphic violence, drug abuse, explicit sexual content
Credits: Written and directed by Daniel Grove. A Samuel L. Goldwyn release.
Running time: 1:40