There have been plenty of films about the neo-Nazi movement. Many include a central character coming to terms with the falsehood of the cause, providing career-making performances given by Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling and Edward Norton in Romper Stomper, The Believer and American History X, respectively. What makes Combat Girls stand out amongst these films, apart from the unique female perspective which was missing from the others, is simply the country of origin.
German law prohibits the public display of swastikas and other Nazi symbols, unless used for historical relevance. This law alone caused a great deal of controversy for German filmmaker David Wnendt, whose Combat Girls is riddled with the imagery, specifically in the tattoos that the characters proudly display. Twenty-year-old Marisa (Alina Levshin) is a hardcore believer, and in the opening scenes we see her display this loyalty by helping her boyfriend beat an innocent Asian boy senseless on the train.
Though this is ultimately a typical film in which the protagonist begins to question the racist beliefs surrounding her, Marisa’s journey is less than typical. She struggles with family issues, taking frustrations out on anyone who happens to be nearby, but eventually befriends 15-year-old Svenja (Jella Haase), a newcomer in the clan. Marisa’s personality is fiercely independent, though her strength is not necessarily tied to her Nazi beliefs, and as interactions with an immigrant opens her eyes.
The DVD release of Combat Girls comes with an interview with Alina Levshin in the special features, as well as trailers for the film. The package also has an 8-page collectible booklet with an essay by Travis Crawford.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Disc Features: 6/10
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