El Gezira (2007)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Melodrama  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - Egypt   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Nathan Southern

Based very loosely on the real-life toppling of Middle Eastern drug lord Ezzat Hanafy, director Serif Arafa's action thriller-cum-operatic crime saga El Arafa unfurls on an island in Northern Egypt with an economy tied almost exclusively to the local arms and opium trade. As the tale opens, a police officer named Tarek (Mahmoud Abdel Moghney) arrives on the said island with the stated objective of pulling together information about the criminal kingpin who runs the place, Mansour Hefny (Ahmed El-Sakka). He receives a wealth of contradictory information - not because the island residents want to deliberately mislead him per se, but because they perceive Mansour in wildly different ways; some see him as a tyrannical hood, while others (shades of The Godfather) praise him for the protection he has afforded their families. Oddly enough, Mansour then turns up, waiting for Tarek when he returns to his police base - and the film subsequently flashes back in time to tell Mansour's long, melodramatic personal history, painting a portrait of him as the quintessential tragic hero.