BERLIN -- Two not very bright would-be crooks take on a big-time drug supplier with predictable results in Ozgur Yildirim's gritty but unpleasant crime story "Chiko."
The title is the name that Isa (Denis Moschitto) has tattooed on his forearm in a flamboyant font that declares his determination to overcome his shortness of stature and brainpower to get rich. He and former junky buddy Tibet (Volkan Ozcan) knock over a front man for dealer Brownie (Moritz Bleibtreu) in order to gain his attention and get a job.
It works, but the kingpin immediately grasps Chiko's main problem. "Your friend will fuck you up," he tells him. Yildirim points his screenplay in that direction so obviously that it's just a matter of when and how.
The setting amid Turkish immigrants in Germany is atmospheric, and the grim and violent episodes familiar in such tales are quite well done. There's nothing fresh in the story, however, and the characters are all so dumb and nasty that audiences will be hard to come by.
Chiko is the more ruthless of the ambitious pair though not, as it turns out, ruthless enough. He spouts the usual moronic demand for respect while doing nothing to earn it. Tibet is more of a dimwit who believes that so long as he's found God then he can get away with pretty much anything. After they beat up one of the drug dealer's men and take his stash, they go to the mosque to pray.
They care for each other a bit more than either of them would choose to admit, and they're mama's boys, with Chiko effectively adopted by Tibet's sick mom who desperately needs new kidneys.
Brownie is impressed with Chiko's impertinence and puts him on trial, selling 10 keys of hashish in 10 days. When Tibet rips off a gram from each packet and starts peddling the stuff at playgrounds, Brownie dishes out a harsh lesson.
That sets the two young men on disparate paths as Chiko goes on to lucrative coke-dealing with enough cash to indulge in expensive bling, a fancy apartment, a hooker named Meryem (Reyhan Sahin) to share it with and a white Mercedes to impress the boys in the 'hood. Returning to his junk habit, Tibet seethes with envy and resentment.
There's only one place the story is headed, and it goes there with stark efficiency accompanied by a fair amount of blood and banal rap mixes on the soundtrack. Moschitto does his best to give Chiko some depth, and Bleibtreu makes his record-producing drug dealer fairly colorful.
Tibet, however, is a one-dimensional character that Ozcan can do little to illuminate. As the fateful end draws near, it's hard not to think they're all getting what they deserve with no reason to care.
Director-screenwriter: Ozgur Yildirim
Producers: Fatih Akin, Klaus Maeck
Executive producers: Christian Springer, Flaminio Zadra
Director of photography: Matthias Bolliger
Production designer: Kim Porr
Costume designer: Lore Tesch
Editor: Sebastian Thumler
Chiko: Denis Moschitto
Tibet: Volkan Ozcan
Curly: Fahri Ogun Yardim
Brownie: Moritz Bleibtreu
Meryem: Reyhan Sahin
Tibet's Mutter: Lilay Huser
Scholle: Philipp Baltus
Sascha: Hans Low
Tonton: Lucas Gregorowicz
Running time -- 92 minutes
No MPAA rating