HYENA Review – Graphically Violent, a Shocking Story of Crime, Corruption and Exploitation

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HYENA, from Film 4 and Number 9 Films, presents, an explosive tale of police corruption with vivid, realistic and stunning depiction as the detectives delve deeper into the world of corruption, crime and the Turkish/Afghan Drug trade.

Written and directed by Gerard Johnson, HYENA stars Peter Ferdinando, Neil Maskell, Elisa Lasowki, MyAnna Buring, Richard Dormer, Orli Shuka, Gjevat Kelmendi, Thomas Craig, Shaban Arifi, Mem Ferda and Stephen Graham.

We meet Michael, as the film begins, answering a mysterious phone call with a single word, he steps onto the balcony. Surveying his domain, no nighttime landscapes light up the sky, our location, and his loyalties, become a guessing game.  It is only when he begins to drive that one begins to understand the setting.

Three men join him, dressed in British cop uniforms, they raid a club, violently taking down the subjects. Not officially, the drug bust serves to heist, boosting their personal supply as the four are either impersonating cops or seriously on the take.

Led by Michael, played by Peter Ferdinando, the four are the narcotics task force charged to stop the flow of cocaine across Europe.

Unbeknownst to the unit, an inter-government narcotics force led by Michael's former partner and investigated cop, David Knight played by Stephen Graham and Nick Taylor played by Richard Dormer, each whom have ulterior motives, has chosen him to assist in bringing down the local Albanians who are trafficking everything from sex slaves to drugs.

The Kabashi Brothers, Nikolla and Rezar, played by Orli Shuka and Gjevat Kelmendi, are the Albanians and are expanding their operations beyond sex trafficking, slavery and prostitution and want to take over the local drug trade.

Michael, who provides cash and protection to the Turk, also made a considerable investment in the new smuggling operation, one week from delivering, from the poppy fields in Afghanistan right across central Europe into the U.K. As the two are talking someone begins to break down the door

He obviously can't be seen and hides. He becomes the only witnesses as the Albanians beat their way into the building swinging a machete the minute the door opens. The Turk informant business partner is literally butchered. The Albanian butchers grab the information detailing the new trade route, names, address, contacts.

As the Drug war escalate Michael infiltrates the Albanians as both co-conspirator and cop, he proposes his deal, for protection, the cover up of the Turk's murder and the growing number of crimes he will keep his eyes closed.

The hurdle to this effort of course is the four corrupt cops who double lives and empire of corruption crumbles with the advent of the Albanians, who are without conscience, concern, a sense of guilt and take no partners or prisoners.

Soon, however Michael stumbles on a sex slave, a lone female, Arianna, played by Elisa Lasoski, who gained trust and bought some level of freedom. She works in the office, basically running the operations. She takes drug and prostitution orders and schedules deliveries. She is caught speaking with Michael who finds the drug route he and the Turk planned to use. Soon, Arianna is once again being tortured as the Kabashi Brothers, are paranoid.

She is drugged and raped, which is shown. It is brutally graphic with full frontal male nudity. She wakes up assaulted, alone, and sold. Her family was threatened with death.  She calls Michael and he is able to find her. She is the lynchpin in the Albanian operation.

HYENA, moves so quickly once the pieces are in place and identities are established it is an emotional ride with graphic disturbing violence. The murders, shown chaotic and frenzied, which with the type of violence played out it seems very believable.

Detailing the extreme levels of departmental corruption within the police system as each branch is tarnished bent on personal gain and layered with debasement. HYENA plays as films of the early influx of drug money in the Bronx or Manhattan in the 1970's. The easy flow of drugs coupled with the large financial possibilities are modernized to incorporate all levels of violent crime and killing. 

After the former Yugoslavia divided into five separate countries landing for warlordsF, tribal and sect leaders wasn't as easy. The Bosnia and Balkans Wars, the Milosevic killing machines that steamrolled these weaker countries taking the strength of families, killing the men only made it easier for whole family units to be taken over. Women sold, like a stolen car, piece by piece, member by member for the highest dollar and profit.

Rated R for extreme violence, human sex trafficking, drugs, machete murders, full frontal male nudity, rape. HYENA exposes immigrant life after the Balkans War sends the war lords and killers into the U.K.

An ultra-violent modern British cop drama HYENA is a thriller that holds the attention from the beginning. It is explosive, fast moving and frightening with stunning almost paralyzing gang war violence.

Explicitly detailed, graphic, viciously sadistic, cold-blooded, sharp. HYENA is a must see.

HYENA, initially released in the UK in 2014, is showing throughout the Tribeca Film Festival and has been picked up by Tribeca Enterprises for U.S. distribution. Wide release in the U.S. is planned for May 1, 2015 after a limited festival engagement.