Vares Retrospective Part VIII: Vares – Pimeyden tango (2012)

Pimeyden Tango (Tango of Darkness) was the film that proved to this reviewer that the Finnish Vares series is an immortal phenomenon, structured so that it never gets old. After an uneven period, it brings the series not only home, but to new heights. Finnish tango and pop music culture meets criminally insane obsession, violence, sex and love in a flick that takes the best parts of the previous entries and mixes them into a potent potion, packing a powerful punch,

First things first: as the cover of the DVD announces: Veikko Hopea is back. In a very unexpected stunt, the enormous enforcer from V2, a film in which Vares himself was played by Juha Veijonen rather than Antti Reini, is released from prison and comes looking for revenge. This might sound cheesy, and in a way it is, but any such buzzkilling judgement drowns immediately in the awesomeness that is Jussi Lampi’s side burn rocking psychopath. Perhaps his first introduction is a bit too much of a callback to V2. However, when he sits in his hotel room spitting out his first shot of Koskenkorva Vodka with a snarl of “Paska!” (shit), and swaps the bottle of Finland’s most famous booze for a bottle of cut brandy Jaloviina, we know this is going to be just fine.

Six years ago, the body of tango king Harry Koivikko was found in a filthy motel room, stabbed multiple times in the stomach and genitals. The police failed to find the killer, despite a massive manhunt. Now, Vares’ friend Ruuhio the journalist gets a tip from an anonymous source, claiming to know the facts of the case. He informs Vares about this, but then disappears without a trace. Vares finds himself in the horrible position of trying to solve an impossible murder case, all the while fearing for the fate of one of his oldest friends. The hunt is on!

Pimeyden Tango offers a strong gallery of characters, an unusually coherent and convincing (though, of course, “out there”) plot and some great music. For the lovers of romance we now get not only one, but two blossoming relationships – Vares meets the rising pop star Donna, and Veikko Hoppea meets Olga, hair dresser and… Well, you’ll see for yourself when you watch the film. For watch this film you will, or Archaic Triad will block you on Twitter, mark my words.

The day after tomorrow we’ll have a look at the final film in the series – so far, that is. With Vares – Sheriffi, the director pulls out all the stops, and all bets are truly off. Still, it would be very reasonable to view Pimeyden Tango as the greatest Vares film to date – memorable, funny and stuffed full of suspense.

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