Klaus Krämer's Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass (Three Chinamen with a Double Bass, 1999) is not a feature remarkable for its originality. However, despite being more than a little reminiscent of Shallow Grave, it is well produced and directed, competently acted and supported by a witty, entertaining script.
The story starts off with Paul, played by Boris Aljinovic, going out with his mate Max and his colleague Rieke (Claudia Michelsen) to celebrate their first proper commission. His girlfriend Gabi (Anna Maria Ondra) in the meantime stays at home and proceeds to "entertain" her boss Heribert, played by Ilja Richter. Their sexual romp ends with his trousers halfway down his legs. He continues to dance with her but loses his balance and they both fall over. Unfortunately Gabi knocks her head against a chest and breaks her neck. This apparently tragic demise is actually something of a relief to the audience, since she is such an unlikeable character that we are glad the sweet mummy's boy Paul is rid of her.
The comedy is derived from the continued harassment the two receive from a very nosy neighbour, and the inevitable messiness of the method they have chosen to dispose of the body. The suspense mounts as various people, including Gabi's mother, boss, and neighbour gain access to the flat. Eventually however, more and more people find out that Gabi is dead. Luckily there is a final twist at the end of the film to spice up the plot.
Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass is a classic entertainment movie. It is a cocktail of light-hearted and macabre comedy held together by a fun script that never lags and an acting team that really works well together. Jürgen Tarrach (Max) is one of the up and coming talents of the German Cinema and he steals the show.
Even the opening titles of the film are enchanting. All characters within the plot are represented by their animated double and each of these looks upward to the actual start of 88 minutes of escapism in the best sense of the word.
Elke de Wit, 15 May 2000
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