Published On: Tue, Aug 8th, 2017

What is Comrade Detective? Not what it seems


Hollywood star Channing Tatum wants us to believe he is bringing back a classic Romanian detective show from the 1980s. But why?

If we believe the show’s recently released trailer, it shows Tatum receiving a mysterious package at home, only to open it and find an old VHS tape labelled “Strict Secret”.

The show is seemingly shot in 1980s Romania, starring Romanian actors and spoken in, well, Romanian. But fear not.

Tovarasul Militian – as the show is originally called – has been remastered, dubbed into English and re-titled Comrade Detective.

So now, we can watch a Cold War gem dubbed by Hollywood A-listers like Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jenny Slate, all while maintaining the show’s authenticity.

In reality, though – it is all a hoax.

Comrade Detective
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Comrade Detective mixes comedy with noir drama and Comunist propaganda

Comrade Detective was in fact shot last year. A comedy spoof produced by Jon Ronson, Brian Gatewood and Channing Tatum, directed by Rhys Thomas and starring Romanian actors with Hollywood voices.

Tatum, who voices the main detective Gregor Anghel (note the similarities with the word Angel) said the idea made him think about the Hollywood films of his childhood.

“As a kid growing up in the South I never thought it but of course they were making TV shows and movies behind the Iron Curtain but it must have been Americans as the bad guys,” Tatum said.

“Because in the 80s and the 90s every single movie, whether it be Lethal Weapon or Die Hard, every one of them had a Russian bad guy.”

And that is really Comrade Detective’s whole premise, a piece of anti-American Communist propaganda masked as a dark detective show.

In an interview to Vice, Tatum said he challenged Gatewood to produce its worst ever idea, and that was when the show was born.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 03: Actors Florin Piersic Jr. Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Cornilieu Ulici attend the premiere of Amazon's 'Comrade Detective' at ArcLight Hollywood on August 3, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
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The real actors of the show, with their voice doubles Tatum and Gordon-Levitt

The show also features the voices of Nick Offerman, Kim Basinger, Mahershala Ali and Chloe Sevigny.

The story revolves around two Bucharest detectives, voiced by Tatum and Gordon-Levitt, who are called to investigate the murder of a fellow officer but uncover a capitalist plot to take over their country.

Gordon-Levitt said the series, released on Friday on Amazon, uses humour to examine how films and TV are used to shape national identities.

“I think this show definitely has a lot to say about how we form our national identity – where propaganda figures into it, how we tend to think that we are right and other nations are wrong,” he said.

“If you watch action movies or action shows like this during the Cold War, certainly there’s a heavy bent against Eastern European dudes.

“Channing and I have always done little fun projects that we don’t necessarily show to the public, but when they came back with the entire show and we saw how hard these actors brought it, I knew I had to go all in.”


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