Brigada (Бригада), also known as Law of the Lawless, is a Russian 15-episode crime miniseries that debuted in 2002. It became very popular and received great reviews. The miniseries follows the story of four best friends from 1989 to 2000, mainly concentrating on the leader of the group, Sasha Belov, played by Sergei Bezrukov. The fifteen part miniseries were written by Igor Porublyov and Aleksei Sidorov and were directed by Aleksei Sidorov.
In addition Belov learns from them that his former girlfriend, Yelena Yeliseyeva has turned to prostitution. Belov finds the tochka , but after an attempted conversation is interrupted by her pimp, Mukha (Fly). Having earlier prepared for the fight, Belov strikes Mukha with brass knuckles resulting in fracture. Before Mukha's fellow gangsters have time to beat up Sasha, Kosmos, Fil and Pchyola arrive and rescue their friend.
What Beliy did not know was that Mukha has strong ties in the Militsiya - his cousin Lieutenant Vladimir Kaverin (Volodya), who, after Mukha recovers from his injury, agrees to cover Belov's death. Belov instead calls for a 1-on-1 fight, which results in his win over him. The fight also ends Belov's relationship with Lenka.
Unlike Pchyola and Kosmos, Fil follows a sporting career in boxing, however the doctor diagnoses him with the early symptoms of Parkinson's disease and does not allow him to continue boxing, yet at the same time offers him to compete in an underground fight club that allows members of all Combat sportsmen such as boxers, wrestlers and martial arts to fight each other. Fil makes his fighting debut there and is supported by his three friends, but the audience includes Mukha, who decides to take his chance to avenge Belov by stabbing him, when a brawl breaks out among the supporters. The brawl is broken up by Kaverin, who fires several shots in the air, causing the crowd to run off.
The next morning Mukha's body is found in the hangar where the fight took place and Kaverin bribes the investigator to consider Belov the prime suspect. Soon, the militsiya arrive at his apartment with a search warrant and plant a pistol in his clothes. Kosmos, who accidentally passes by, is asked to witness the search and manages to see Sasha on the street below. He leaves hastily and manages to throw him in a car and explain what has happened.
Afterwards Kosmos hides Sasha in a dacha outside Moscow, and his friends make separate statements to the investigator. Simultaneously, Sasha's mother tries to recruit a lawyer and also seeks help from Kosmos's father, Yuri Rostislavovich, who is a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and thus has numerous contacts among the Soviet elite.
At the dacha, Sasha notices a stunning neighbour, Olga Sorokina, with whom he immediately falls in love. He follows her to her violin recital in Moscow and begins a courtship. The date ends abrubtly when Olga, waiting for Sasha to return from repairing a broken heel on her shoe, notices a wanted poster on the train platform with his face and name.
Sasha's friends decide to lift his spirits, and with Fil's sport contacts "recruit" a group of four female swimmers, whom they drive to the Dacha for a party that ends with couples pairing off for sex. The music volume was so high that Olga's grandmother called the district militsia officer. Upon returning to his office, he recognizes Belov's face on the wanted poster and immediately calls for OMON police to come. They arrive just after Fil and Kosmos drive off for more alcohol, and Pchyola and Sasha barely escape the gunfire-rattled dacha into the woods, where Sasha takes a bullet. Realising that he is out of money, Kosmos arrives home and drunkenly confronts his father and Sasha's mother, promising that everything is alright with Sasha. They return to find the district militsia officer taken hostage by Pchyola and Sasha and, deciding not to kill him, drive off. In the meantime, Kosmos' father spends a whole night on the phone and finally announces that he has cleared Sasha. Unfortunately, it might be a year before he can return to Moscow. The 1989 story ends on top of Sparrow Hills as dawn breaks out, with the four friends overlooking the panorama of Moscow. The blood-soaked Sasha swears to his friends that he will always remain loyal to them and to the Brigada.
In revenge, Belov hijacks a large deal of Artur's that includes shipping in several train cars full of Aluminium from Tajikistan. After an unsuccessful attempt by Artur's own semi-criminal bodyguards to deal with Belov, the profile of the dispute catches the KGB's attention and agent Igor Vvedenskiy announces Belov's talent to his supperiors and gains permission to let the group develop further under their control. At the same time, Artur contacts the militsiya and his case is taken up by the now Captain Kaverin, who sees this as a perfect chance to settle the 1989 incident with Belov. In the meantime, Sasha gets married to Olga and, after a lavish reception, their first wedding night was to follow in their new apartment in the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building (a wedding gift by Pchyola, Fil and Kosmos). However, this almost ends in disaster when the hem of Olga's wedding gown gets tangled in a wire attached to the pin of a hand grenade, neatly set up right across the front door of their apartment. Sasha manages to grab the armed grenade and throw it into the stairwell after a neighbour's dog rushed to rip the wire and release the pin.
Afterwards, in Kosmos's father's apartment, Olga confesses to Sasha that she loves him even though she knows who he is and what he does. Knowing that such action could have been carried out only by a mole Sasha stages his imminnent departure to Yalta which causes him to reveal himself. Afterwards he is driven out into the woods and killed. Belov openly states to his Brigada that anyone who tries something like that will share the fate.
Afterwards Kaverin shows Artur the picture of the dead mole, but much to irritance of Artur for the failed attempt to remove Belov, Kaverin tries to convince him that this is a perfect evidence to legaly crush the Brigada. Artur refuses, but at that instant the brigada burst into the office. Artur and Kaverin just manage to hide in the toilet, and Kosmos nearly assaults his female secretary Lyuda. After they leave Kaverin takes drunk Artur's signature to write a statement by himself. Yet at this point Vvedensky's KGB move in, and Kaverin is promptly discharged from service.
Simultaneously the original Aluminium producer from Tajikistan calls for the Tajik mafia to move in against Belov for hijacking their deal, as Artur paid only half the fee. In an imminent gang duel Beliy recognises the leader as his old army friend Farkhad Dzhurayev (Farik). The two instead choose to turn to Drug trade, where Belov's Aluminuium trains would be used to transport heroin from Tajikistan. To celebrate the deal, both Belov's Brigada and Farik's godfathers go to a lavish restaurant, where they witness Olga performing. Vvedenskiy makes contact with Belov and under threat of forced labour announces that narcotics are to be only transited via Russia. In return for Belov's agreement, Artur is forced to give up his position and emigrate, and Belov fully takes over Kurs-Invest including its office and even Artur's secretary, Lyuda.
Olga, after graduation from the Philharmonia fails to begin her music career, and instead turns to a former course-mate Vitalik, and joins his band. Vitalik, not hiding his attraction to Olga, turns to blackmail her into leaving her husband, who openely dissaproves of both Vilalik and her being part of the band, which he further makes visible by having the whole party leave the restaurant. Eventually Sasha witnesses how Vitalik verbally offends Olga and in a short fight and Olga happily walks off with Sasha. The 1991 part of the film finishes when Olga and Sasha pause their love-making when they became aware that the television is broadcasting the same Swan Lake on all channels, which a Russian viewer will know is the beginning of the 1991 August Coup which brought the end of the Soviet Union.
The large cell is filled with people swept up in raids, including Kaverin and two colleagues. Although the two parties do not approach each other, they describe what they know of their friends, and that Kaverin, after leaving the MVD, now works for a private security firm, headed by Bek.
Vvedenskiy, realising what has become of Belov, arranges for his release. As soon as Sasha walks out he learns that Olga has given birth. As the Brigada drive off to the hospital they see army trucks removing the dead from the White House.
After seeing his newborn son, the Brigada come back to the office, where Farik tells the problems to Beliy. Kosmos and Pchyola agree that selling drugs in Moscow would bring more revenue, but Sasha refuses. The discussion ends, and Farik walks out saying that he felt betrayed. Kosmos convinces Beliy to change his mind. The whole conversation was recorded by Kaverin.
Immediately Kaverin forwards the tapes to Bek, who agrees to hijack the deal. Sasha fearing that the clients might trap Farik, offers Fil to come along to oversee the exchange. Farik, however, refuses, and Sasha's worst fear comes true. The deal is carried out with Farik handing over the narcotics on the Ferris Wheel of the VDNKh and his two Tajik friends receiving the money outside Moscow. After the exchange, both Tajik parties are murdered.
Sasha learns what has happened and takes the bodies to Farik's father in Tajikistan. Belov explained that they had every right to consider him responsible, but he is here alone, and that their partnership is important. He shows Farik's father the photo of the newborn Ivan. Farik's father allowed him to return and find those responsible.
Kaverin deals with his employer Bek, and approaches the Brigada. After playing them the tapes, he convinces them that he was gathering intelligence for Bek, and knew he would hijack the exchange. The action on New Years Eve alternates between Sasha, Olga at a performance of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and various locations in Moscow where Bek himself and his group are killed. Belov, bored at the concert, receives news of the successful operation amid the applause. This causes him stand up with the audience and applaud a Bravo.
The 1993 part of the film ends with Vvedenskiy reporting to the KGB on Kaverin. Seeing that the subject has successfully played out a double agent between Bek and Belov and that his personal score with the latter. Vvedenskiy proposes to support Kaverin to counterbalance Belov's mafia.
Luka attacks Sasha when he is visiting with Olga and Ivan to his mother's flat. Max is able to kill two and pursues the remaining assassin away. Belov hurries Olga and Ivan to a safehouse outside Moscow by Max. Belov and Fil are hiding in an undisclosed flat in Moscow.
The shoot-out gains wide coverage on television, which Vvedenskiy watches from home. He contacts Kaverin, who brings Kosmos to Luka, who tells him that in case of Belov failing to agree, Luka will remove him and Kosmos will take over. Despite this offer, Kosmos breaks the situation to Belov. Olga discovers that Ivan has a throat infection that needs an urgent operation, driving to a local hospital, their escort gets caught on a GAI checkpoint and arrested. While surgeons carry it out, Luka's men surround the small provincial hospital, with only Max to defend it.
After a failed attempt at dealing with Viktor Petrovich, Luka phones Belov and states his ultimatum. Belov throws the phone down, and Luka tells Kaverin to finish Beliy off. Kaverin hires a professional sniper and a meeting is held on the Tushino airfield with the sniper on top of a building several kilometres away. Luka falls instead of Sasha, and Kosmos and Fil finish his bodyguards. Luka's men leave the hospital and Ivan's operation is completed.
Afterwards, Beliy meets with Vvedenskiy and Kaverin, Vvedenskiy tells him that Kaverin is taking over Luka's activities and Beliy must sell weapons to Chechnya. The 1994 story ends when Belov visits his mother's flat. Witnessing the assassination attempt, she collapsed with a heart attack, and passed away. belov talks to her, asking to forgive him.
Belov continues his attempts in legalising the Brigada's activities and secures a deal with Viktor Petrovich for a set of alcohol and tobacco licenses. Breaking the news to Fil, they go to a casino to celebrate, where Sasha becomes very drunk, and they bump into a famous film producer Gordon and his wife, actress Anyuta, whom Fil knows from his work as a stuntmen.
Kaverin finalises a new delivery of arms to Chechnya and after agreeing on the route, goes to the same casino, where he crosses paths with Belov. They begin to argue on their mutual dislike of each other, and Kaverin confesses it was his influence that the search of his house in 1989 included a false extraction of a pistol. Belyi breaks a bottle of champagne on Volodya's head. Upon leaving the casino, Beliy sees Anyuta's look and comes back to her place beginning an affair. The next morning he discovers that Gordon is homosexual and their marriage is merely a convenience.
Kaverin heads off to Chechnya, and meets the insurgent militants. The delivery of arms is intercepted by Armenian spetsnaz commandos, who kill the militants and destroy the trucks. Back in Moscow the frantic Pchyola, waiting for the call to confirm the deal, is told that everything is destroyed. Sasha reaffirms him that despite the 11 million they lost, it will be good for them nonetheless. Viktor Petrovich thanks Sasha for the information he has given him and reassures him about the secret police. Belov meets Vvedenskiy in front of his own home, and realizing that Vvedenskiy is shocked that Belov knows where he lives, Sasha tells him that they both have children and that all he wants is for them to co-exist. Vvedenskiy acknowledges that even he can be manipulated by Belyi, and reassures him that stopping the arms flow was the right thing to do.
The 1995 part of the film ends with a blood soaked Kaverin, who despite taking two sniper bullets is limping to a burnt out village. A Russian BTR patrol pulls up and the soldiers rescue him.
Fil drives Olga and Ivan home and then catches the rest of the Brigada in a night club. There Pchyola negotiates a new money laundering deal with the Caucasus mafia. Beliy refuses to accept it, out of principle's of continuing the legal profile of the business. Pchyola, much to the dismay of Kosmos, decides to follow it through alone and decides to go to airport (he' flying to Berlin) not with Brigada but with Caucasians.
Pchyola departs for the airport to catch his flight to Germany. What follows next is a repeated scene that originally was played at the very beginning of the film, before the 1989 story was unfolded (it was seen in episode 1 but before opening credits. 1989 story began after first episode's opening credits). Whilst Fil drives Kosmos and Sasha back to their office. In the car, all three notice how their wristwatch arms accelerate and the radio begins to glitch. In a split second decision Sasha yells for everyone to jump out of the car, and with Kosmos they roll out onto the snow-covered street. Fil however jumps later, just before the large Mercedes explodes (in episode 1 explosion is followed by opening credits and 1989 story begins).
Unconscious, he is rushed off to the hospital where he spends several hours under surgery with serious head injuries. Kosmos convinces Sasha that Pchyola is the only one who could have carried this out as after their death he'll have everything and he didn't sit into their car, and they send their head of security Shmit, and his men (former thugs) to find him. Pchyola himself as soon as he learns of the attack, just as he arrives to the airport, catches the first taxi back to Moscow.
Night falls, and Fil is still under surgery, Olga meanwhile is learning to drive with Maks (now her and Ivan's personal bodyguard), on the Kutuzovsky Prospekt, where Pchyola catches up with her. He tells her via phone to not tell Max that he's calling and asks her to stop at the pharmacy and come in without Max in order he be able to explain Olga everything. In the pharmacy he tells her that the camcorder which Fil borrowed remained turned on, and that right now it is at Anyuta's house (Fil returned it to her after realizing that it was Gordon's camera). Max upon seeing Pchyola immediately calls Shmit, who arrives and brings him to the hospital.
Olga meanwhile comes to Anyuta's home and confronts her, forcing to abandon the affair with Sasha, and to return the camera. At the hospital Pchyola is met with Beliy and Kosmos holding pistols, kneeing before them, they are interrupted by a nurse asking for anyone with Type B negative blood for Fil. Sasha points to Pchyola who makes a transfusion to the still unconscious Fila, after the operation was finally completed.
Kosmos then tells Beliy that he will not have the courage to kill Pchyola, to which Sasha replies that neither will he. Kos advices Sasha to tell Shmidt to kill Pchyola. Sasha convices Kosmos to give him drugs. As he said, he sent many years selling it but never tried. he tries 2 times but unsuccessful - he doesn't feel anything. At this moment Olga and Maks burst in with the camcorder. Sasha shouts at Olga, they have a little argue (probably drug began to act because before Kos's accident each time he (Kos) was taking drugs he was beginning to shout). We see in camcorder how Gordon plants the bomb inside the head of mannequin that Fil brought with him. Kosmos remembers that Gordon was borrowed half a million from Fil, but lacked the means to pay it off.
Realizing what has happened, Kosmos pleads to Pchyola for his mistake. The 1997 part of the film ends when Olga walks in to the drunken Kosmos, Sasha and Pchyola and tells then that Fil is in a coma and we are shown Fil.
The murder of a famous film producer generates a massive media outrage on the mafia, and Olga takes Ivan and leaves Sasha. Belov comes to the same dacha where her grandmother still lives and almost forcefully assaults Olga. The militsiya arrive, where Sasha recognises the same district militsiya officer from 1989. He turns himself in and back at the station they drink and dance, telling their life stories. The militsia officer then demonstrates the old wanted poster of Belov, and sets out making him some photocopies. As he awaits, Belov's eyes grow in shock when he sees a election poster with Kaverin's face. Kaverin has survived Chechnya, and is running for the State Duma in the upcoming majoritarian election.
Shmit, Pchyola and Kosmos pay Gordon's assassin, but after he leaves the cafe, a SOBR unit arrests them, drives into the woods, where the three are forced to dig a grave for themselves under gunpoint. The SOBR gunment open fire at the empty trees right above their heads, and walk off, leaving the three to find a way out.
When the three dirty men arrive back at the office,Belov enquires into the event. Viktor Petrovich tells him that it was carried out by a militsiya commander, who after Gordon's death sends a warning that there were still people who could crush Beliy and his Brigada should this happen again. Beliy confronts the Commander, telling he did what was necessary for his friend. He gets a phone call from the hospital that there has been further complications with Fil. Before leaving the Commander, he takes the wooden cross that SOBR took from his men.
The 1998 part ends when Sasha visits Fil and finds him surrounded by doctors. He kneels over Fil, and seeing that his eyes are open whispers: "Brother". A tear flows out of Fil's eyes. After that Belov makes his mind to run against Kaverin.
Beliy has his men deliver presents to the poor, and finances construction of Orthodox Churches to win support. He tries to re-unite with Olga, and after a dinner together, breaks with her into the same dacha where he hid in 1989. There he tells her of his thoughts, before the discussion turns to love-making.
As the elections near, the two candidates engage in a television debate, both ask piercing questions into the cloudy past. Debate is watched by Fil (who is still in hospital and is weak) and his wife Tamara also. Kaverin decides to play a trump card, a cassette with more early 1990s recordings. However instead a scene from The Godfather is played, much to the amusement of the viewers. Belov then takes the initiative and states that the reel that was to be played was one of thousands there could be and admits to his past. However he states that this mess in which he was forced to take the actions he did was caused at the very top in the government and he was just a pawn that was swept into the new world. Furthermore he appeals that what is important is that at present everybody wants to live in a better country where the necessary actions of the past would remain there.
Soon the elections come, and despite Kaverin's early lead, Belov clips a narrow margin at the last moment and wins the vote. A celebration follows at Belov's office, Kosmos proposes to Lyuda, Artur's original secretary who has worked with them since 1991. Then a phone call follows that Sasha and Olga are on their way. Pchyola and Kosmos come out into the snow-covered courtyard to greet them, and see Sasha's red armored SUV driven alone by Maks, who climbs out and stabs the two.
Beliy who arrives later, is shocked at what happened. At dawn Belov also learns that Fil, and his wife Tamara were also killed in the clinic. On the wall "GORGE ANIMAL" (in Russian "ЖРИ ТВАРЬ") is written by blood. Maks is nowhere to be found. Meeting up with Vvedenskiy Sasha learns that Maksim Karelskiy, despite working for eight years for Belov, and several times rescuing both him, his family and Pchyola from Beliy himself, was nonotheless a mole for Kaverin since 1991. Originally he was to be shot by the Chechens and Kaverin paid his ransom, after which he used him to infiltrate the Brigada.
Vvedenskiy along with Viktor Petrovich, the whole underground criminal world, and even Yuri Rostislavovich (Kosmos's father) ask that Belov should not seek revenge. Sasha says that he can't accept that, and first rattles Kaverin's apartment with an RPK as a message he will avenge. In the final stunt, he contacts his old friend who the viewer saw throughout the film, karate trainer and stuntman Alexander Inshakov. Originally they meet up back in 1989 when Sasha bought a mastiff, then again in 1991 they offered him to train his men, and he refused, Inshakov was Fil's close friend during their stunt work for Gordon, and shortly before Gordon's death asked him to have all of the film reels to make a tribute to stuntman Filatov.
Sasha then visits the morgue where already the four coffins are prepared for the funeral, and symbolically adds a pistol into each of three ones. The next day, Kosmos's original Lincoln Town Car is shown to Sasha. Beliy sends Shmit to the cemetery and says he follow onwards and says that he has a new person as a head of security and says he will explain everything to him later. When Shmit arrives the funeral service is about to begin. As Belov, Olga and Ivan drive onto a causeway, the car is hit by an RPG and falls into the river. The funeral mass is announced that Belov is killed.
Learning of this, Kaverin decides to come out of hiding, and releases Maks. Seeing a final end to his life-long rival, he and Artur engage in a joint business venture, and are examining a construction site that is soon to open as a new shopping centre. Out of nowhere Beliy appears and kills Maks, Artur and finally Kaverin himself. Afterwards he explains to Inshakov how he staged his own death and how the car was empty when it exploded and went over into the river.
The film ends in spring when snow melted, Sasha once again visits Sparrow Hills alone, and remembers how nine years ago he swore to always stand for his brothers. Repeating the words he adds that he swears he will never forget them, and with that cracks his watch on the railing.
The film ends in the airport, where Olga and Ivan, await for Sasha to arrive and leave Russia. The plane is already full, and Olga gets a call that Sasha will not be joining them, the tearful Olga walks into the ariplane. Sasha, seeing the plane take off, drives back into the city.
Sergei Bezrukov as Sasha Belov – The leader of the Brigada. He is smart and very business oriented but has numerous vices, such as infidelity. He cares deeply for his three friends and when one of them is considered to be a traitor, he refuses to believe it.
Vladimir Vdovichenkov as Fil – After Sasha he seems to be the most level-headed member of the group. He is a boxer early on and then becomes a stunt man. After a failed assassination attempt, he goes into a long coma for a year.
Dmitri Dyuzhev as Kosmos – The comic relief of the group. He's also the flashiest one. Later in the series Sasha finds it hard to trust Kosmos but ultimately they remain good friends. He develops a serious cocaine problem.
Pavel Maykov as Pchyola - The quiet soft spoken member of the group. He is successful with women yet very confused sometimes. After what seemed like a treacherous act on his part, Sasha forgave him and ultimately discovered who the real perpetrator was.
Yekaterina Guseva as Olya – Sasha's wife and only love. Throughout the decade they have their share of domestic squabbles, some more serious than others, but by the end they solidify their love. She is a violinist and was raised by her grandmother.
Andrei Panin as the detective Kaverin – He is the perpetual villain throughout the series. He sort of comes and goes. In the beginning he is a corrupt cop who fails to nail Sasha. This drives him nearly mad and he decides to join up with Sasha's gang later on to wreak vengeance. He never got the chance as he was nearly killed in Chechnya and forced to stay with the military and lie low. He is a very slimy and snake-like character whose only drive is to kill Sasha Belov.