In the Art series “Machine – the Fighter”, a former soldier leads a factory towards self-management. It's a left-wing pop fairy tale.

A young woman in a yellow jacket looks at a man who is talking to her.

Employee representative JP (JoeyStarr) confronts taciturn new colleague Machine (Margot Bancilhon). Photo: Art

Once the young temporary worker with the programmatic name Machine (Margot Bancilhon) goes on strike, she meets little resistance. So it doesn't matter if she beats up aggressive thugs, neo-Nazis, tax inspectors, police officers or trade unionists who oppose the self-management of her appliance-producing company. The French art series “Machine – the Fighter” is a mix of idiosyncratic genres of crime, martial arts, social drama, action spectacle and political thriller. At the center of the story is the titular Machine.

She used to be an elite soldier and returned to her hometown in the French provinces traumatized by a foreign mission. He gets a job at a company that is being bought by a Korean investor who wants to outsource production. A strike breaks out, the prefecture desperately wants to close the deal and appoints Robert (Sébastien Lalanne), a tough man, who hires some Nazis to force the strikers to surrender.

But he didn't count on Machine's martial arts skills, who defeats half a dozen Nazi thugs while his union colleagues are oblivious and busy discussing how many sausages and beer they should order for the next few days of the factory occupation. .

Machine befriends his coworker JP, who everyone ridicules and is played by French hip hop legend JoeyStarr, now 56, who likes to spout Marx quotes.

Class struggle, in the true sense of the word

“Machine – the fighter”available in the art media library

Each of the six episodes is preceded by Emmanuel Macron's legendary saying, taken from an interview with Elle magazine at the beginning of his presidency in 2017: “My advice to young people: read Karl Marx!”

Machine, who is also wanted by the secret service and a vengeful elite soldier, begins reading Marx's Capital as a comic, while JP calls on the company to organize and prevails over the unionists who speculate on severance pay.

This always seems forced, especially when Machine fights the class struggle with Kung Fu, but it is told very quickly and makes clear how combative social and labor conditions are negotiated in neighboring France. The image of JP pointing his finger at the businessman ultimately becomes the logo of successful self-government, which is under increasing pressure.

Pop Culture Cross Reference Medley

“Machine – the Fighter” spreads in all directions, presents honest trade unionists, as well as employees of the secret services and right-wing military, as we know them from the political detective novels of Jerome Leroy, but ensures that the provincial gendarmes, sometimes understanding, they show solidarity with the workers. For the most part, it comes across as a well-crafted action thriller with satirical twists, is accompanied by a lot of hip-hop and punk music, is very brutal in places, and offers a whole potpourri of pop culture cross-references.

Machine's blind and cryptic provincial kung fu master, who runs around the martial arts studio with a stick, is a loving homage to the cult “Kung Fu” series of the 70s. In his yellow temp worker suit with black side stripes, Machine is reminiscent of “Kill Bill”. It seems as if Ken Loach and Quentin Tarantino had filmed a saga of French class struggle.

Added to this is the romantic flirtation of the son of the Korean businessman Wook Kwandai (Guang Huo) with the hotel employee Stephanie (Solène Rigot) in K-pop style, and the video blogger Final Fuck (Michaël Abiteboul) continues to enter the scene, who It is the fight to make self-government visible in the media. At the end of March, this fast-paced left-wing pop fairy tale about hard-drinking provincial workers, friendship, solidarity and political struggle received the award for best French contribution at Europe's largest series festival in Lille.