Icerde (2016-2017) is a Turkish masterpiece and a pioneer in the genre for action-filled mafia crime dizis in the country. With 39 well-crafted episodes written by Ertan Kurtulan and Toprak Karaoglu that have a perfect blend of drama, suspense, action, humor and romance; enacted by a talented ensemble cast led by Cagatay Ulusoy, Aras Bulut Iynemli and Cetin Tekindor; a suspenseful but haunting musical score by Toygar Isikli; and an action-packed directorial mastery by Uluc Bayraktar, maintains Icerde as a tight story that is widely appreciated by global audiences as movie making genius.
Inspired by Martin Scorcese’s Oscar-winning American gangster flick The Departed (2006), which in turn is inspired by Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs (2002), all three stories center around the concept of mutual infiltration of a crime gang and the police force, as the two sides get into a cat and mouse game of having the last word. Icerde liberally borrows plot devices from both earlier versions but makes the story entirely its own by bundling in the powerful love of family, a relentless fight for justice and a willingness to sacrifice so that good can win over evil.
Focused on the stories of Sarp Yilmaz (Cagatay Ulusoy), a police cadet tasked with infiltrating Celal Baba’s (Cetin Tekindor) mafia gang, and Umut Yilmaz (Aras Bulut Iynemli), Sarp’s younger brother who was kidnapped as a toddler and groomed by Celal to infiltrate the organized crime division, Icerde showcases how through all the trials and tribulations faced by the Yilmaz brothers, the one thing that guides their ethos is their deep desire to reunite as brothers. By the end of episode one, Sarp was “Icerde” (Insider) in Celal’s gang and Mert/Umut was “Icerde” in Director Yusuf’s division. Only Yusuf knows that Sarp is an undercover policeman; and only Celal (and one other) knows that these two are brothers, taking a twisted pleasure in pitting them against each other while playing the puppeteer in this game of life.
Icerde’s choice to make an action drama also an epic tale driven by love for family makes it a very relatable and beautiful human story, which is the bedrock of Turkish productions. A mother’s pain and her never-ending hope; a brother’s love and his unfailing quest; a little boy’s search under the halo of his forgotten reality; young girls looking for love; women looking for protection; men looking for father figures; sons waiting for fathers; criminals looking for redemption, and those that are beyond repair, – are all depicted beautifully.
All of Cagatay Ulusoy, Aras Bulut Iynemli and Cetin Tekkindor shine in their layered portrayals of their characters.
All actors for the other major roles for Yusuf, Fusun, Melek, Eylem, Yesim, Daud, Alyanak and Coskun were great in their given parts, creating distinct personalities that allow the audience to grow with the characters as the show progresses.
Even though Icerde is produced on the shoulders of giants such as Scorcese’s The Departed and the critically acclaimed Infernal Affairs franchise, it still manages to become a prized trophy in the Turkish showcase of dizis. Not to be missed.
Copyright (c) mh
This review originally appeared on Dizilah, here
#Icerde #EnglishReview #TurkishDrama #TurkishMasterpiece #CagatayUlusoy #ArasBulutIynemli #CetinTekindor
[Update: July 6, 2020 -- According to Turkish entertainment reporter Birsen Altuntas, Cagatay and the Taylan Brothers have parted ways with the Barbaros project, even though the project is still being planned by TRT/ ES Film. Unconfirmed reports suggest a scheduling conflict]
The concept for the series started its development in 2017, by the state-owned channel TRT1. On November 5, 2017, Mehmet Bozdag, who is a specialist in historical shows (Dirilis: Ertugrul, Kurulus: Osman, Turkler Geliyor), announced preparations for the project by the channel. Even though he has since left TRT1, the channel retained the rights to the show. Since then, they have been in search of a credible production team, and eventually settled on ES Film, which was already working with the channel for a series on the life of Yavuz Sultan Selim. The Yavuz series has now been postponed in favor of Barbaros, which plans to go into production this summer. The producer Yusuf Esenkal signed the agreement with TRT1, with access to a huge budget for the project.
A quick side note: even though we are not given this history in depth in The Protector, but in the book Karakalem by N. Ipek Gokdel that inspired The Protector, Hakan was actually named Yavuz, after Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim, who had shared a connection to the talismanic shirt young Yavuz’s ancestor had made for the first male descendant in his family. In Karakalem, Yavuz (Hakan) is the first male descendant in his family and being a brilliant mind who understands his responsibility, he himself begins to figure out the power of the shirt.
Fans are well-aware of Cagatay’s intense dedication to his roles and how he can physically transform for them. Starting with Baris Ayaz of Delibal, Cagatay has taken an immersive approach to preparing for his roles.
For the manic depressive musician architect Baris, he lost 15 kg, grew his hair to give an unkempt look, took drumming lessons for 6 months and also spent time with individuals who live with the bipolar disorder.
For Sarp Yilmaz, he went through intense physical and fight training, maintained a close shaved head and stayed in character of an unwavering policeman for the whole 9 months that the show was on air.
For Hakan, he went through another transformation to play a boy who seems significantly younger than Sarp, far less secure in himself but carries himself with the cockiness of someone who wants to fulfill his destiny of being The Protector of Istanbul. Within that role, he also portrayed the Ottoman warrior and Hakan's ancestor Harun Muhafiz, which required a completely different look and posture than what we see in Hakan.
Even though we were unaware of his intentions, Cagatay has probably been in preparation for Barbaros for more than a year. His first sighting in what could be his potential look as Barbaros was in January 2019, where we see him have a heftier build, along with the full, reddish beard. Since then he trimmed down for his gala for Season 2 premiere of The Protector, go back to a heftier build during the summer, clean up again for his filming of Season 3 & 4 of The Protector, and once again go back to the heftier body structure.
Since March 11 of this year, when he appeared for the unveiling of his wax statue at Madame Tussaud’s in Istanbul, he has been off the radar again, presumably, back to preparing for his role in Barbaros.
We have also come to learn that Cagatay has been getting adept at being a horseman (he bought a horse), weaponry - we have seen past short video clips of him throw an axe and also trying his hand at archery. He already loves the water, with deep-sea fishing being one of his favorite hobbies.
We expect to be amazed by his performance, yet again, as he becomes one with an important historical figure in the Turkish Ottoman era, and I know fans cannot wait!
The Production Team
As mentioned earlier, the producer for the project will be Yusuf Esenkal of ES Films. He already has experience in working on historical series’ such as Filinta (available on Netflix) and Payitaht Abdulhamid (2017 – 2020). He brings prior work experience from the United States, which he may rely upon to help build the considerable amount of special effects required for the water and elaborate battle scenes. We already know that the team at The Protector worked with the local Balik Gozu Film for their underwater cinematography and production. Maybe there is a possibility for them to be involved with this production as well.
The series is to be directed by The Taylan Brothers, Yagmur Taylan and Durul Taylan, who have significant experience in working on local and international productions of series and films. They have worked on Muhtesem Yuzyil (The Magnificent Century) and also worked on the multiple award-winning film, Vavien (Two-way Switch).
The script is to be written by a team of renowned writers that include Cuneyt Aysan (Cesur Yurek,), Ozan Aksungur (most recently with Cukur) and Oguz Ayaz (who has been a director for Elif, among others). All three have worked together before on Kurtlar Vadisi: Pusu, which ran from 2007 – 2016.
It seems Barbaros is slated to become a massive production, sponsored by a state-channel, which is unlikely to run out of funding quickly. If closures due to the pandemic is slowly lifted, filming will start in mid-July and it will hit the screens in September 2020. Depending on ratings, it may have additional seasons. The show will probably provide a complete narrative of the historical importance and dominance of the Ottoman Naval Fleet, with Cagatay playing the elder brother of the titular Barbaros.
Oruc, known as Baba Oruc, was the Governor of Algiers, also an Admiral of the Ottoman Empire and eventually died in battle. It is his position and mission that Hayreddin Barbarossa inherited, and with his skill as a seaman, eventually established the Ottoman dominance in the Mediterranean. It is possible that Season 1 of the show focuses more on the story of Oruc Reis as it is his legacy that the better known Barbarossa lived and grew.
Fans have gotten a taste of Cagatay playing a historical figure as Harun Muhafiz in The Protector, but we cannot wait to see him immerse himself into Barbaros, as a character who played an important part in Turkish history.
Article (c) CUNA and mh/ @entrespire, twitter
Sources: ranini.tv, teammy.com, Birsen Altuntas on Twitter; Daily Sabah, alchetron.com
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by Paola Cesarini
The 2016-17 series "Içerde" is widely acclaimed as one the best ever aired in Turkey. It is also probably one of the least Turkish. The story is based on the highly successful 2006 Martin Scorsese film "The Departed", which centers on real-life characters from the infamous Boston Irish Mob. The movie, in turn, is an adaptation of the Hong Kong action film "Infernal Affairs." "The Departed" is considered a cinematic masterpiece. It was also a commercial success that earned several awards -- including four Oscars. So how does a Hong Kong gang/Irish mob cinematic tale fare once it is transplanted on the Bosphorous and stretched into a 39 two-hour episodes series? The answer, almost surprisingly, is harika.
In "The Departed", Boston Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello -- interpreted by an over-the-top Jack Nicholson -- plants Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) as a mole within the Massachusetts State Police. At the same time, the police assigns undercover state trooper Billy Costigan (Leonardo Di Caprio) to infiltrate Costello's crew on account of his family ties to organized crime. To increase his credibility with Costello, Costigan drops out of the academy and serves time in prison on a fake assault charge. While located in Istanbul, "Içerde's" story has the virtually identical premise of the Scorsese's film. Infamous Turkish mafia chief Baba Celal (Çetin Tekindor) supports his adoptive son's -- Mert Karadağ (Aras Bulut İynemli) -- career into the Police Academy. Upon graduation Mert earns a coveted spot into the organized crime investigative unit. At the same time, the Director of the very same unit manages successfully to infiltrate another police cadet -- Sarp Yilmaz (Çağatay Ulusoy) -- into Celal's gang. Sarp too has to spend one year in jail in order to penetrate Baba Celal's inner circle.
Like "Medcezir", the similarities between "Içerde" and "The Departed" end after the first episode. More specifically, "Içerde" dramatically complicates the relationship among the main characters, adding a great deal of pathos to the original story. Thus, in the Turkish series, Mert turns out to be Umut Yilmaz, Sarp's long lost younger brother, whom Celal had kidnapped in order to ensure his father's silence. Then, Sarp happens to fall in love with Melek (Bensu Soral), only to find out that she is Celal's biological daugther. And finally, Mert falls in love with Eylem (Damla Colbay) who is Sarp's sister-like childhood friend. "Içerde" reaches its climax when the two brothers, after a myriad of extraordinary events, eventually find each other in what is arguably one of the best scenes ever to be shown on Turkish TV. In contrast, "The Departed" ends in a depressing bloody mess that leaves viewers with a distinctive bitter aftertaste.
While "The Departed" has been praised as an "American epic tragedy","Içerde" is essentially about the ineradicable family bond between two long lost brothers that, defying time and space, triumphs against impossible odds. It follows that "Içerde's" success squarely rests on the shoulders of the two young leads -- Çağatay Ulusoy and Aras Bulut İynemli. And indeed, their performance is nothing short of brilliant, resulting in something much greater than the sum of their individual parts. With their relationship evolving from ruthless rivalry into unquestioned loyalty, the two young Turkish actors faced perhaps greater performance challenges than Leonardo di Caprio and Matt Damon. Sarp and Mert/Umut's interaction during most of the series is delightfully confrontational, alternating between spectacular fight scenes and utterly comic interludes. Later on, however, they are forced to trust each other. And after Mert/Umut discovers his true identity, the Yilmaz brothers appear to pick up their relationship right where they left it two dozens years earlier.
"Içerde" is so good that it manages to keep glued to the screen even those who tend to avoid mafia-type shows such as "The Departed". This is because it offers a great deal more than action-packed entertainment. It is first and foremost a story about the power of family -- i.e. the real one, and not the fake substitutes, which mafias, gangs, mobs, etc. allegedly offer. It is also a story about loyalty, honor, hope, justice, redemption and the fine line between good and evil. Second, it offers a stellar cast of young and experienced actors, who spare no effort in morphing into their characters. Third, "Içerde" is superbly written and produced, and also counts on outstanding photography and cinematic techniques. Fourth, the Turkish series contains fight scenes that are so amazingly choreographed as to make one forget about the violence involved. Finally, it includes an unforgettable soundtrack by the consistently outstanding Toygar Işıklı.
How did this series manage to remain week after week in the top spot of Turkish TV rankings, and -- at the same time -- withstand comparison with a movie of the caliber of "The Departed"? First, everything about "Içerde" is out of the ordinary. For example, in episode 33, Sarp and Mert meet on a building's rooftop for what they both think is their ultimate confrontation. This long fight scene is absolutely worth watching in its entirety. Interspersed with slow-motion flying bullets, flashback from their childhood, drying linen, color explosions, crumbling chimneys, mesmerizing music and the flight of a dove, it is nothing short of poetic. It makes one forget that the scene depicts two brothers, who are trying to annihilate each other. The other reason for "Içerde's" success is that it is a story about hope. While from the beginning to the end, "The Departed" offers a gloomy tale of corruption and despair, "Içerde" remarkably manages to deliver a feel-good ending amidst a great deal of tragedy.
In conclusion, "Içerde" is not to be missed. Those who enjoyed "The Departed" -- and may therefore be tempted to dismiss a Turkish remake a priori -- will be pleasantly surprised by the quality and originality of this intriguing and outstanding adaptation.
On Monday, May 4, ShowTV will be starting reruns of Icerde, a 2016-2017 crime drama that broke all sorts of ratings records during its 39 episode run. It will air every evening.
Icerde is led by Cagatay Ulusoy and Aras Bulut Iynemli, both shining stars in the crowded field of dizi actors. Cagatay, who was already famous from his loverboy roles in Adini Feriha Koydum and Medcezir, reinvents himself as the gangster Sarp, who is really an undercover cop. For Aras, Icerde is his breakthrough role as Umut Yilmaz/ Mert Karadag.
In this action-packed dizi, the first of its genre for Turkey, Cagatay stands out as Sarp Yilmaz, a resolved and unwavering cop, with a spine made of steel. Inspired by Martin Scorcese's The Departed, Icerde manages to remain a quintessentially Turkish show, with action, drama, love and family portrayed beautifully. The ratings for the show never fell below 7 during its run, being one of the first shows that completed the season as planned. It is also one of the top shows to have been syndicated internationally, to great success in Latin America and other markets.
For more information on the show, you can visit our filmography page or browse through earlier posts.