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Zen: Vendetta Cabal Ratking [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Rufus Sewell    DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £16.81
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product details

  • Actors: Rufus Sewell
  • Format: Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • DVD Release Date: 2 Aug 2011
  • Run Time: 266 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B004XKVR3C
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 364,796 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
**Please Note** this series is also available in standard DVD format as well as Blu-Ray

This is a high-quality drama series produced for TV based around the detective books by Michael Dibdin about a detective called Zen who works in modern day Rome. Each 90 minute episode is a cut above the usual fare for TV detectives; these are effectively full length feature films which happen to be made for television.

Each episode is a stand-alone story based on Dibdin's early Zen books, and they benefit from Dibdin's careful character development and intriguing plots. The stories have been sympathetically adapted for the screen, keeping much of Zen's idiosyncratic behaviour and his delightfully dry wit. Although the crimes are often grim and the danger to Zen and his comrades is very real, these films incorporate a light, almost playful touch (especially as his office romance develops) which makes this series far less gruelling to watch than the recent Wallender adaptation.
Filmed in Rome, the camera work is very stylish, although not stylised. It makes the most of Rufus Sewell's good looks and his ability to wear a very sharp suit, and he perfectly portrays Zen's air of puzzlement when he has to deal with corrupt authority, the bureaucracy of the Italian police, the heavy hand of the Vatican, his wife who wants a divorce, office politics, gangsters with sawn-off shotguns, living with his mother, and seducing a beautiful secretary who has taken something of a shine to him. The first story, Vendetta, is not the strongest of the trio; Zen's artful talents come to the fore in Cabal, and Ratking is by far the best episode.
My only problem with these films is the somewhat weird attitude to local accents. The scripting is all English, and Zen speaks with a neutral accent.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  83 reviews
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty-Four Carat Rome! 25 July 2011
By F. S. L'hoir - Published on
The BBC has struck it rich with this riveting detective series! Although I have not read the Michael Dibdin mysteries, and I therefore cannot say how faithful the series is to the books, I have spent nine memorable years in Rome, and I can assure viewers that as far as the locations and settings of Rome and its environs are concerned, "Zen" can be graded d'oro puro--pure gold.

The mostly British cast are at their usual best, and if the aristocratic English and slightly regional accents among the police detectives strikes an odd note at first (add to that mix the Italian accent of Caterina Murino), one soon becomes so absorbed in the story that the anomaly becomes unimportant. The mixture of British accents is analogous to what would be the mixture of university-educated detectives and the Italian version of police constables, a condition that would be lost with pseudo-Italian accents, no matter how well done, especially considering that Zen, convincingly acted by Rufus Sewell, is a Venetian. The sense of verisimilitude is maintained by extras shouting at each other every now and then in Italian (Rome is a very noisy city). The sound is especially good, down to the two-note police siren which goes flat by several keys with the doppler effect as the car passes by and heads off into the distance.

The carefully crafted plots of these crime stories hold political overtones, which, even though the books were written in the 'eighties and 'nineties, seem equally valid today, as little changes in a city where patronage and politics (and, unfortunately, the criminal underworld) have been walking hand-in-hand for over 2000 years--so long that the very boundaries between the spheres have become blurred. The scene which portrays Zen calling a friend who knows someone, who knows someone else, who can get an elegant apartment rent-free, rings so true that one knows that Mr. Dibdin has actually lived in Rome, where one does not get an apartment by looking in the classifieds but by knowing someone who knows someone else [This timeless state of affairs was parodied in an Italian comedy in which Nino Manfredi played a reluctant hit-man, who outsourced the job, calling his brother-in-law, who called his cousin, who called his son-in-law, who called his lawyer, who called . . ., etc., etc., so that the dastardly deed never got done (much to the merriment of the Italian audience).].

The camera takes Aurelio Zen (and us) into the great chambers of the grand country villas as well as the dense laurel forests, underground caves, and crystal pools of Lazio, in scenes that had me holding my breath as Zen is forced to dive under water (The ghastly possibility of losing a flashlight is one that I once envisioned as I was escorted down to one of the lower galleries of the catacombs of San Sebastiano to view a third-century sarcophagus). The camera also allows us to follow Zen as he walks along the narrow cobbled streets and up the sweeping staircases into the forty-foot ceilinged frescoed rooms of apartments of palazzi built in the Renaissance--impossible to replicate in a studio--grand buildings, the façades of which are sadly marred by twenty-first century gang graffiti. Even though when Zen tells the driver to turn on the Via del Corso, and the car turns into Viale di Trastevere--on the other side of the Tiber--it doesn't matter in the least! It is the ambience that is important, not the exact route or the fact that the street might be one-way in the opposite direction. As the camera shows Zen leaning against a doorjamb of pitted travertine, or it lingers on Zen sipping an espresso, we are there with him. One can almost smell and taste that divine coffee, which, to me, recalls the essence of Rome!

P.S. I just learned on the other side of the Pond that the Beeb has cancelled the series--no doubt, their 'swingeing' budget cuts. Not only is it expensive to film in Rome, but it is also chaotic working under the threat of strikes, which occur constantly.
PSST! I just downloaded the series in HD from I-tunes with a very reasonably-priced season pass. Under the circumstances, I'm glad I did!
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Promising New Series from PBS 18 July 2011
By Grady Harp - Published on
ZEN debuted last night on PBS and if the opening episode is any indication of things to come, then we have a delightful summer delicacy on hand. The series takes place in Rome and features a detective known for his integrity, a Venetian by the name of Zen (Aurelio Zen) played with understated classy style by Rufus Sewell. Zen, who lives with his mother (Catherine Spaak) after his crumbled marriage is involved in defining the responsibility for some murders in the past which happen to mimic some recent murders - and in the complex process we discover that the Italian government wants to engage him on one side of the investigation while another somewhat shady source engages his for the opposite legal decision. There is plenty action and suspense and the uncovering of secrets about the house where the most recent murders took place - a mansion undermined with tunnels and caves and rapidly flowing rivers where a strange young girl Silvia (Cariddi Nardulli) hides from a society that has abused her. Zen perseveres in his intelligent search for facts, a search that happens to include some beautiful photography of the Italian countryside, a romantic interest in the form of the beautiful Tania (Caterina Morino) who is being pursued by the entire office of Zen's workplace, especially by one Vincenzo Fabri (Ed Stoppard), a team of bad buys out for vengeance against the police, and a host of other characters who suggest avenues this series may take.

The cast is sterling though for the most part unexplainably British in this Italian set drama (Stanley Townsend, Ben Miles, Francesco Quinn, Anthony Higgins, Garry Cooper, Adrian Schiller and Cosima Shaw) but the key to the success of this series is the solid work by Rufus Sewell. While the winter and spring shows rest, this series deserves summer attention. Grady Harp, July 11
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece Mystery Goes To Rome--Three Good Cases Introduce An Understated New Detective Franchise 3 Aug 2011
By K. Harris - Published on
The latest detective featured in the BBC Masterpiece Mystery collection is Aurelio Zen as portrayed with laconic efficiency by underrated actor Rufus Sewell. Sewell has had a varied and interesting career, but oftentimes seems pigeonholed in films as the nefarious villain. It's nice to see Sewell take on television work (John Adams, Pillars of the Earth) that showcase a greater range and versatility--and "Zen" is perhaps his best role of recent years. Embodying a middle-aged, world weary sexiness--Detective Zen stands as a unique entity within the Italian police force. He is known for his integrity and incorruptibility, and in an interesting twist--this is both his greatest asset and his biggest liability. Getting assigned various high profile cases, Zen is also juggling departmental games, shady politics, and a new romantic entanglement. And it is this balance of elements, along with some larger governmental conspiracies and unnamed power players, that bring a refreshing depth to the more ordinary crime solving. The Season consists of only three episodes.

Vendetta: Things get rolling in perhaps the least solid episode (for me anyway). Character introductions vie for time with a plot line that has Zen investigating a case where an innocent man has been charged with multiple murders at a country estate. In addition, an assassin with a personal grudge is also on Zen's trail unbeknownst to the detective. Of course, these two elements will combine into one deadly showdown. It's fun enough, if a bit convenient. A large chunk of time is also spent developing Zen's romantic affair with a new office worker, and this detracted from the main action.

Cabal: With all the introductions out of the way and the romantic angle having settled into a comfortable groove, I absolutely loved this episode. Investigating an apparent suicide, Zen learns that the dead man was blackmailing a powerful criminal organization with many high-profile members. Was it murder or suicide? Getting an assist from a mysterious insider, Zen gets in too deep. But just what is real and what is imagined and does it matter? I really enjoyed the conspiracy theories and twisty nature of this particular story.

Ratking: Zen must contend with a new boss who dismisses him as a glory seeker. But still Zen is brought in by high ranking forces to cope with the kidnapping of an influential businessman. Dealing with the family and the kidnappers, it seems everyone has an individual agenda. Zen's sense of propriety is pushed further and further with his involvement to the power elite. Everything is balanced well in this episode, and this is the funniest entry. I particularly liked the ending.

All of Zen's cases are twisty and interesting, but nothing about the actual crimes differentiates this program from dozens of other detective choices littering the television landscape. Sewell, for me, is a primary selling point of "Zen." Subtle and understated, I appreciated that the program allowed him to underplay the role. He gets to the heart of matters seemingly by accident with this more subdued approach. Ben Miles as an enigmatic politico and Ed Stoppard as a privileged co-worker also stood out, but the entire cast delivers. Droll humor and lovely Italian locales further distinguish this tale. If you like exotic mysteries, this is an easy recommendation. It might not break new ground, but it is solidly constructed and an entertaining diversion. Vendetta was 3 1/2 stars, Cabal was 4 1/2 stars, and Ratking comes in at a solid 4 stars. Check it out! KGHarris, 8/11.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Want More 3 Aug 2011
By Anonymous - Published on
I look forward to Masterpiece every Sunday but more so ever since Zen started. VERY disappointed there are only the three shows! Come on BBC, please bring Zen back! The other shows in the Masterpiece Mystery series are good but Zen is the best. I love the glimpses of Italy and the characters and dialog. Just finished the last show ... I came to Amazon to buy the series (thinking PBS showed only a limited number) to find there are only the three shown on PBS ... too many loose ends ... will the chief come back or will Zen remain as the interim, will his relationship with Tania start again, what will the Ministry force on him next, what will be the next office bet, ...
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, glamourous, sexy, real - who could ask for anything more 3 Aug 2011
By B Held - Published on
Just catching a glimpse of the gorgeous teaser for Zen made me eagerly await discovering this series. This is one of the most textured, most beautifully photographed mystery shows I've come across in some time. What "Wallander" captures of Swedish melancholy and isolation, "Zen" matches in Italian cool and antiquity. Columbo meets Marcello Mastroianni. Love this!
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