OSS 117 Box Set from Music Box Films (2023) 

The OSS 117 films have been around for a very long time. Originally a sort of French response to James Bond and his 007, OSS 117 films seemed to disappear for a while and then, in 2006, Jean Dujardin stepped in the suit and made it his own. His films as the famed spy started with OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006), followed by OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009), and OSS 117: From Africa with Love (2021). The box set released by Music Box Films recently contains the first two films only, something that was a bit of a letdown. However, it is a solid release of these films.  

Starting with OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (aka OSS 117: Le Caire, Nid D’Espions) intruduces Dujardin as Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, alias OSS 117. That’s a mouthful and that’s the point. You see, these films are satires, parodies of sorts of the international spy genre. OSS 117 is almost absolute nonsense and it’s lovely at that. Yes, it’s got offensive humor, but that humor has a point. The film points out the sexist, racism, etc of other spy films by making their own twice are brutal, twice as obvious, twice as annoying. The film is a walking satire that some will love and some will hate. For those of love it, they adore it. And clearly they are not alone as this film has received 2 sequels so far (could we hope for more? Can we get more?) 

The film in and of itself is incredibly well-written, carefully directed, acted with talent and guts, and everything in it from the costumes to the decors, to the effects are carefully crafted to look just like the films they satire. The lead here is played by Jean Dujardin, an Oscar winner for The Artist in 2012, and his performance is on point, actually so on point that he’s annoying. The way he just perfectly renders the character both charming and a pain is exactly what the film needed. He makes this a film that is good beyond its technical aspects. The story here follows the titular spy as he goes to Cairo and proceeds to insult every single person he meets, causes an international incident, and eventually becomes the hero of the story.  

Something that comes back almost verbatim in OSS 117: Lost in Rio with a different setting and a few new twists and turns. While for most films, this would be lazy sequalization, but here it makes sense as it becomes part of the satire, poking fun at sequels and how unoriginal they can be. Of course, Dujardin is still solid in the part and willing to go as far as the role needs for the film. He’s one of those actors trained in comedy first and willing to go for the nonsense (case in point, the much less Brice de Nice character and films) and this one feels more nonsensical than the first one. It’s still an enjoyable watch in the satire genre though. 

As for the new box set by Music Box Films, it’s a pretty package with the first two films in it. And well, the packaging is really pretty, all blue and orange, with lots of photos, but in terms of practicality, this one is going to piss some people off. The discs are slipped into the cardboard sleeves that make up the front and back (thus the middle sections once the packaging is unfolded fully). It was a bit frustrating to fight the discs out of there and honestly, this is the wrost kind of packaging for anyone with manual dexterity issues. That being said, it is pretty. It is also all cardboard and paper, so let’s see how it survives, being in the collection for a few years.  

In terms of what is included here, the fact that the third film is not included is a massive missed opportunity as it is not easily available in the US. This may have been due to rights issues or to the film not being as good as the first two, the reason for this omission was not disclosed. Now, when it comes to the technical aspects, both films look and sound fantastic, the subtitles are on point, and everything on the discs themselves is solid. The extras are fairly good but feel a bit on the low end of things in terms of numbers. Both films get a commentary with lead Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavich, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, blooper reels, photo gallery, and theatrical trailers. These are what is expected from most releases and the bloopers as well as the commentaries are the best bits here. Lost in Rio gets a bit more content with a feature about Jean Dujardin on set and cast appearances at screenings. Overall, the extras are run of the mill, but solid. The quality of them works, but they do feel like something more could have been added considering how much Arrow Videos, Synapse, and Vinegar Syndrome spoil their audiences with extras. Very much like agent OSS 117, this release is pretty, it’s entertaining, but could be a lot more.