Head to Head: Is the Netflix Film Inspired by Real Criminal Underworld?

Originally titled ‘Ras Bras,’ ‘Head to Head’ is a Netflix Arabic comedy movie directed by Malik Nejer that follows a chaotic plot of a pair of friends’ accidental tumble in the underground criminal world. With a lovesick chauffeur, Darwish as the protagonist, the film charts his offbeat adventure after he accidentally picks up a renowned retired crime boss from the airport. Afterward, a group of dangerous men reach out to Darwish, seeking out the crime boss in exchange for Darwish’s acquaintance. Thrown into a deadly world that has the potential to turn into a ludicrous opportunity, Darwish and his best friend, a mechanic, embark on a whacky journey and try to make it out to the other end alive.

The film has a refreshingly different approach to comedy than similar films within the region and equips a satirical lens. With realistic characters undergoing relatable experiences regardless of their outlandish outcomes, the film crafts a compelling comedic story that remains grounded in reality. Therefore, viewers must be curious to know if the story is based on true incidents.

Head to Head: Blending Fiction with Reality

‘Head to Head’ is not based on a true story. Although the film feels closer to real life than its regional peers, it is a work of fiction penned by Abdulaziz Almuzaini. This film presents another successful collaboration between writer Almuzaini and director Nejer following their popular ongoing animated show ‘Masameer County.’

‘Masameer County,’ like ‘Head to Head,’ is a comedy that utilizes likable characters and entertaining adventures to highlight social and cultural aspects of modern times. Similarly, the creators’ penchant for needling society while focusing on engaging storytelling shines through in the film.

The social realism in ‘Heat to Head’ and the narrative’s refusal to rely on stereotypical visual or textual gags vastly inform the story’s ability to connect with the audience on a more personal level. By depicting life through an honest lens while being conscious of the social environment, the storyline becomes richer, and the characters feel more tangible.

Given the film’s genre, the chemistry between the characters forms one of the most crucial features of the story. Therefore, the pre-existing relationship between the actors, like Zyad Alamri and Abdulaziz Alshehri, who worked together on the 2022 film ‘Alkhallat+,’ greatly helps influence the on-screen chemistry between them.

On the other hand, the story also remarkably benefits from Adel Radwan’s portrayal of Darwish. The film paints Darwish as a grounded character bereft of the exaggerated cliches that are common within similar characters in the genre. The decision to do so immensely impacts the film’s overall energy and fills Darwish’s surroundings with a sense of realism.

The “Bathikha” neighborhood, which centers the tale through its authentic setting, has a similar effect. Although the location is fictional, the film’s creative team built the area with precision to serve the story and saturate it with authentic elements. The detailing within the neighborhood and its ability to replicate real life notably sets the entire film apart and makes for a riveting visual experience.

As such, the film consistently imbues its fictional building blocks with small doses of reality. As a result, the story feels realistic without the events or the characters having a firm origin in real-life. The same, of course, is achieved through exceptional writing. Actor Radwan discussed the same in an interview and divulged his belief that good writing makes up the most important element in any good comedy.

The film stays true to the same and focuses on building an exciting and satisfactory narrative without solely relying on surface-level entertainment value. As such, even though the film presents a few outlandish plotlines at times, it gains an authentic worldview through a foundation of realistic and honest storytelling. Nevertheless, the story is a fabricated tale and does not possess any basis in real-life events, settings, or people.

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