Milano Calibro Nove

MILANO CALIBRO 9 (1972) BY FERNANDO DI LEO

Reviews

Alternative Titles: Caliber 9; Calibre 9
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Writer: Fernando Di Leo (Based on stories by Giorgio Scerbanenco)
Year: 1972
Starring: Gastone Moschin, Barbara Bouchet, Mario Adorf, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Philippe Leroy, Lionel Sander

Synopsis:
Released after a three-year term in prison for a bungled robbery, Ugo Piazza plans to lead the straight life for a while. But no sooner is he back on the street than he’s picked up by a bunch of hoodlums under the employ of gang boss ‘the Americans’ – among them, the psychopathic Rocco – who are convinced that Ugo has stolen $300,000 from them. The gang forces Ugo to work for them in the hope that he will eventually lead them to their missing money.

Review:
Novelist Giorgio Scerbanenco is best known in Italy for his series of crime tales, including Milano Calibro 9, set in Milan, which when combined make up what is often referred to as the ‘black Milan’ universe.

It is this universe that lays the foundation for the film and its writer/director Fernando Di Leo accurately extends this bleak universe from the printed page to the visual screen with great aplomb.

Immediately MILANO CALIBRO 9 displays both self-assurance and intrigue as we witness an elaborate parcel exchange that begins outside of the city’s iconic Duomo and for the next five minutes plays out until a harrowing countryside explosion.  This opening sequence is arguably not just one of the best of the genre but one of the best committed to film!

Every element here blends perfectly, from the tension generating score courtesy of Luis Bacalv to the editing and the pacing of the frequent parcel exchange and the aftermath.

Almost everything you need to know about this sub-genre can be gleamed in the opening five minutes.

Credits over and we meet Ugo (Gastone Moschin), freshly released from jail for good behaviour after a robbery went awry, who is simply looking to start again. But crime boss The American won’t let him and sends his men to ask him to come visit him…or pay back the $300,000 he believes that he stole from him right before his robbery attempt and getting sent down.

It is here that we meet Rocco, the second in command for The American. This brash, greasy stereotypical Italian gangster stands in complete contrast to the silent, cold and patient Ugo and built on these two differences the two men wage a silent battle for supremacy.

One initial consequence of their difference sees poor Ugo forced to go to the Police Station in order to gain a temporary ID and it is here that we are introduced to the Comissario (Frank Wolff) and his new college Mercuri (Luigi Pistilli ) who provide an alternative angle to the films proceedings while breaking up the focus on Ugo’s life.

Fernando Di Leo however went on record stating that he would retrospectively have preferred to cut these two in order to bolster the action pacing of the film. Now while what he says is true, these two characters are ineffective in terms of policing and quite honestly superfluous to the whole film but despite this, their relative distance to proceedings, indeed they have very little really to do with the exception of perhaps one moment of tension, their constant theoretical debating of socialism and repression highlight the schisms between the old and the new. This is something which is mirrored in the criminal gangs themselves however here in the respect to the law, both debated approaches prove powerless to stem the tide of crime. Limited as they are in their narrow view and tied to specific ideological approaches which exclude the benefits of other thought. But MILANO CALIBRO 9 is not about social commentary and these debates are mere decoration at worst or a starting point for an external discussion at best.

So clearly not quite like Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST or Petri’s INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION but through these conversations Di Leo does at least try to help frame the action within the context of the societal opinion of the time, not to forget also mentioning the perennial Italian north/south divide.

Back to the film and almost everyone believes that Ugo pocketed the money, from The American and his gang, to Ugo’s long suffering girlfriend Nelly (Barbara Bouchet) and the police themselves. The result of such widespread belief is that Di Leo finds the story in the life and action of our anti-hero who, perhaps predictably, is forced back into his life of crime in order to stay alive.

Now I say almost everyone because we are also introduced to the blind Don Vincenzo and his hitman Chino (Philippe Leroy). These two don’t care if Ugo did or didn’t steal the money as Ugo was one of them and it did not break any of the old guards rules. Despite his loyalty to the two the time inevitably comes when he has to choose between his new and his old employer.

The overall effect of all of this is that MILANO CALIBRO 9 feels like a personal story, no doubt in line with the stories held within Giorgio Scerbanenco’s novel, and because of this it distinguishes itself from the majority of its contemporaries while managing to create an emotional impact on the viewer.

This impact is further enhanced through the choice of audible cues, strong performances and fleshed out characters that allow for personal and relationship development that appear believable.

Of course no crime film could get by without some level of betrayal and MILANO CALIBRO 9 has it in spades and yet it does not seem overused. This is because of how it is dealt with, some are secrets only unveiled to Ugo and us, the viewer, at the same time and others show us the information ahead of time making us complicit in the deceit and even if we wanted to warn Ugo we are powerless to stop the inevitable so we can only scream at the screen and pray he can find his way out of it.

By the end of Milano Calibro 9 not only do you feel sympathy for our anti-hero Ugo but you certainly warm…or at least begrudgingly respect Rocco. A testament to the terrific character development this film allows.

Everything I have said makes this a great film but it would be remiss of me not to mention the shot choice and cinematography (see the way in which the faces are lit while travelling in a car at 1hour 9minutes) courtesy of Franco Villa. Utilising a wide variety of outdoor shots that show us the black Milan, from the foggy streets to the grey industrial areas and the bars this Milan has succumb to the trappings of gang crime.

So if you are still undecided about whether you need to watch this film I will leave you with this statement. MILANO CALIBRO 9 is a gripping crime film that packs an emotional punch as much as a physical one.

Di Leo has brought to life real characters in a gritty, brutal and engaging story and that start…worth the price of admission alone.

RAGE OF FIRE 2 (2018) BY MATHIEU CAILLIERE

Reviews

Director: Mathieu Cailliere
Writer: Mathieu Cailliere, Sebastien Petitjean, Jeremy Vazzoli
Year: 2018
Starring: Sebastien Petitjean, Mathieu Cailliere, Lorelei Meunier, Kevin Duragrin

One of my fondest memories as a child was waking up on a Christmas morning and discovering that Santa Claus had left me a brand new Sega Mega-Drive. I loved that console (and its rival the SNES which I also would later own) and the whole range of games available in particular the sideways scrolling beat-em-up’s that I would play constantly both at home and in the local arcade while on a seaside holiday. The Final Fight and Streets of Rage series were my equal favourites if you must know.

So over the last few years it has been nice from both a nostalgic and cinematic point of view that there has been a few short grindhouse-style film releases (KUNG FURY and JUST JUSTICE III being the best of the crop) that played into my love of 16-bit entertainment and action.

Courtesy of the Mase Brothers I can add another title to this ever-growing list;
RAGE OF FIRE 2!

Throwing in references to Streets of Rage, Street Fighter and Doom amongst others RAGE OF FIRE 2 follows cop Axel return from his self-imposed exile to vanquish the evil Mr Gun who has returned from the dead and taken Axel’s sister, Gina, hostage within an armoured warehouse.

Cue skateboarding gun-toting smart-ass action that really commits to the 16-bit video game style. All of the dialogue is delivered on-screen adding to the authenticity meanwhile the action is delivered through a combination of live action and in-game style action (and both, with a first person shoot-em’up style) with some neat touches like the eating of a digitalised apple to visibly boost a health bar thrown in for good measure.

RAGE OF FIRE 2 is a short film that perfectly recreates the 16-bit action game feeling and manages to do so along with some well judged humour, well lit cinematic shots (director Mathieu Cailliere knows his stuff) and a storming soundtrack.

Stay cool! Stay retro!

Oh and keep an eye out for the Stay Puft Marshmallow man in the background. You can watch the film on the Mase Brothers YouTube channel or below:

THE SERMON (2018) BY DEAN PUCKETT

Reviews

Director: Dean Puckett
Writer: Dean Puckett
Year: 2018
Starring: Molly Casey, Emilia Copeland, Grant Gillespie, Oliver Monaghan, Denise Stephenson

Synopsis:
In an isolated church community in the English countryside, a powerful hate preacher prepares to deliver a sermon to his flock, but his daughter has a secret that could destroy them all.

Review:
A melancholic tone pervades through the opening establishing shots of a craggy, desolate landscape before THE SERMON begins in quite a literal sense with a preacher (Oliver Monaghan) delivering a damning tale to his isolated community.

We hear an attack on immorality and on homosexuality as the preacher goes on with his damning stereotypical rhetoric before we bear witness to hypocritical and brutal judgement on those deemed abominations, courtesy of God’s children.

Powerful and intelligently composed, within the opening five minutes writer/director Dean Puckett has presented to us a tale about ignorance, hatred and perhaps equally as damaging, about conformity and the betrayal of ones own feelings and ideas. Or so it would seem but there is something darker lurking underneath.

If the script is to be commended, then so too is the cinematography, courtesy of Ian Forbes. THE SERMON through the utilisation of 35mm film manages to succeed in its aim of being reminiscent of seventies folklore horror, meanwhile the muted almost drab colour palette especially when combined with the bleakness of the surrounding countryside is a perfect representation of the limited and dare we say empty mindset of those living in the small rural town,

Although the resolution will not come as a surprise to many, at only eleven minutes long THE SERMON certainly does not overstay its welcome but rather serves as a highly entertaining and polished piece of work, the likes of which are a rarity these days [no Stewart Lee references please].

Tackling intolerance, ignorance and dare I say love in a small isolated religious community, THE SERMON is more than worth your time.

There are a few other elements that I have not touched upon in this review (the terrific music courtesy of Bizarre Rituals being one) which I will leave it for you to discover, to make your own interpretation and to draw your own conclusion.

This film was a collaboration between Grasp The Nettle Films and the Creative England/BFI Network and on the evidence of THE SERMON and Dean Puckett’s previous short of the same year (SATAN’S BITE: OR THE FOOLISHNESS OF THE WITCHFINDER THOMAS EASTCHURCH) this is a director with a very promising future.

If you wish to see THE SERMON for yourself, and I suggest that you do, then you can view it for free on Vimeo.

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NOTTE NUDA (2018) BY LORENZO LEPORI

Reviews

AKA: Nude Night
Director: Lorenzo Lepori
Writers: Lorenzo Lepori, Antonio Tentori
Year: 2018
Starring: Pascal Persiano, Henrj Bartolini, Yana Proshkina, Concetta Pagliarella, Simona Vannelli, Antonio Tentori

Synopsis:
Things spiral out of control for old friends Paolo and Andrea when they find themselves in the woods and in possession of a girls body. But are they alone?

Review:
Benefitting from an uneasy atmosphere, the very start of NOTTE NUDA places the viewer  on edge as it successfully builds tension. This feeling is formed from a fairly mundane and straight forward sequence in which a man slopes off from his marital bed, leaving his buxom wife, to go collect firewood from the nearby forest.

However the audio-visual choices chosen by director Lorenzo Lepori tell us that something is not quite right and when a heavily decomposed body is discovered by our male actor things begin to take horrific shape.

Hinting at erotic horror, think in the vein of Jess Franco, but delivering perhaps more in the way of a creature feature, the strong opening eight minutes of NOTTE NUDA encompass multiple influences that tease us with which direction things will go but also leave us wondering how they will be blended together.

Due to this it is perhaps more curious as to why NOTTE NUDA then decides to take an unexpected turn by seemingly moving away from what has been established and becoming almost a dark drama of sorts with the introduction of lead character Paolo (Pascal Persiano – DEMONS 2; PAGANINI HORROR; THE SWEET HOUSE OF HORROS; VOICES FROM BEYOND; CATACOMBA), a man missing his wife and in the midst of a downward spiral.  

Alone, run-down and presumably lonely it is hardly a shock that when Paolo heads out of town to meet up with his old friend Andrea (Henrj Bartolini – CATACOMBA) and his latest girlfriend Milena that it takes just one night of booze and drugs before all three of them end up in bed together.

Through these sequences NOTTE NUDA instills both character background and wider context but due to the length of time spent on this and the subsequent partying scenes the momentum does seem to drop and the film loses its focus somewhat. But thankfully with the (direct) introduction of a few more of the bar patrons the story is driven forwards giving us action, drama and what I would term dark humour before returning to horror territory which concludes a neatly worked if light story.

NOTTE NUDA is a commendable effort but one that ultimately attempts to fit in too much which proves more frustrating for the viewer hoping for more exploration of scenes as opposed to anything poorly executed.  That said I did like how the main tale of Pascal was concluded but I believe that Lepori and Tentori should have found the film in the development of the aftermath of Paolo and Andrea’s night out. To me, this is the films real strength due to the strong performances and chemistry between Persiano and Bartolini. Of special note is the lead actor Pascal Persiano who shows his experience at playing this type of character several times before.

Through its mixture of cheese, nudity and violence NOTTE NUDA will have moments that appeal to fans of 80s Italian horror, European erotic horror as well as Italian fumetti and will do enough to appease fans of all three, even if areas such as the Franco-esque eroticism appear if ever so slightly underplayed.

I say this last bit simply because although it technically fulfils its purpose in relation to the story as is presented in the final film, some of the shots used I found quite captivating and I wished that there was an alternative film that focused on this. The irony is that had this been a segment in something like Lepori’s previous release, the anthology CATACOMBA, that the restrictions and compromise forced on the director through shorter time limits would probably have seen this avenue separated and pursued a little more.

On a final note, the two feature length releases of Lorenzo Lepori are peppered with genuine talent and if the writer/director can continue along this path I can see a modern cult classic coming in the not too distant future.

NOTTE NUDA will be released this December on DVD. Check the usual places and follow the film on Facebook.

EL GORE’S SNUFF TAPE ANTHOLOGY (2016) BY EL GORE

Reviews

Director: El Gore
Writer: El Gore
Year: Various – Released 2016
Starring: El Gore, Isabelle Fitzgerald

Synopsis:
A collection of nine ‘snuff’ tapes by El Gore gathered together into one package covering abortion, disembowelment, genital mutilation, necrophilia and a lot more.

Review:
If the title doesn’t give the game away from the moment you insert the disc into your player you are assaulted by brutal, infectious goregrind which perfectly sets the tone for what is to come over the next hour or so.

What we have is essentially a compilation of ‘tapes’ – which look to have been given the ‘VHS’ look treatment for added authenticity, including the sound of the tapes being inserted from the menus which is a fantastic touch adding gravitas to the fact that this is in fact a thought out and professional production despite its intentional lo-fi appearance. So in the spirit of the production the only way to review this is to systematically go through the contents, almost like a police investigator would upon discovery of this evidence.

Snuff Tape 0 – ‘Black & Died’ is the shortest of all the tapes but kicks things off in a grimy and almost arthouse manner thanks to the colour palette and disrupted audio soundscape resulting in the viewer being unable to distinguish if they are watching one mans decent into perversion or transgressive art that borders trash. Four minutes later and I am onto Snuff Tape 1 – ‘Red’ which along with it’s clear VHS style features a pounding soundtrack playing over shots of maggots feasting on what looks like a bird carcass before giving way to something that Fred Vogel would be proud of. Before I knew it Snuff Tape 2 – ‘Red & Yellow’ is ready to go, and bizarrely I was unable to look away from the screen. There isn’t too much to say on this tape except that it certainly delivers for the gore hounds in terms of brutality as El Gore takes things a step further as the footage ends with a random act of humiliation and disdain for the victim.

Snuff Tape 3 – ‘Dead, Red & Brown’ at 24 minutes is the longest segment and also one of the most brutal. Again El Gore ramps things up as he seemingly revels in the violence and depravity on show as the tape somehow becomes more and more extreme as the time goes on. We witness, almost as accomplices, as a corpse is mutilated, defiled and desecrated….not to mention a couple of scenes that will have everyman crossing his legs. This segment also forms the basis for the music videos from Anal Fistfuckers and Kadaverficker, but one criticism that I have surrounding the audio is, due to the length of the segment compared to the songs it takes away from any feeling of authenticity and a more restrained soundtrack, as employed on some other segments, would have sufficed.

Snuff Tape 4 – ‘Dead Baby Fast Food’ is perhaps the only real let down for me, although admittedly the gore brigade may still get enough out of this segment to make it worth their while. However, the use of a clearly fake, standard plastic baby doll as opposed to something more silicone based combined with creative shot angles killed the segment for me. The result was that the foundation of the segments concept was inadvertently rooted in slapstick as opposed to controversy and despite plenty of blood and gore it could not recover to deliver the required impact and perhaps this was one idea that should have been left on the drawing board rather than compromising with a restricted budget and SFX. Snuff Tape 5 – ‘Final Orgasm Extreme Suicide’ brings things back up to speed thankfully, and if you a man, like some scenes in tape 3, you might want to spend some time looking away from the screen. Like all the others this one is pretty bloody, by this point I think that is a given for the entirety of the collection, as it focuses on a guy who decides to enact his fantasy of extreme suicide as he indulges in acts of genital mutilation and self-disembowelment.

Snuff Tape 6 – ‘Organ Trade Autopsy’ is pretty self explanatory, although not the shortest segment it did seem to fly by pretty quickly but I did also find it one of the least engaging of the tapes despite benefitting from strong Fx which looks like El Gore and Co. raided a local butchers shop to achieve the desired effect.

Moving on to Snuff Tape 7 – ‘Gore Abortion’, this is the second longest tape at twenty minutes and features the stunning Isabelle Fitzgerald and finally some boob! Of course I am being facetious but with a couple of tapes involving a stunt cock its about time El Gore engaged in some equal opportunities flesh. The loose narrative centres around someone who likes to kidnap pregnant women and get’s off on the murder of two people with one act. While Isabelle hardly looks pregnant, lets pretend it’s very early or she just doesn’t show it and move on, this tape is perhaps one of, if not the, most interesting because it allows for that interactive dynamic. Additionally there is no groovy, heavy chugging goregrind soundtrack to this tape. Replaced, instead with ambient sound and suffering and this makes for a much more genuine and oppressive feeling resulting in a tape that is both brutal and grim, with the tone perfectly matching the reprehensible act of the antagonist.

Finally we reach the Lost Snuff Tape – ‘Dead Body Rape’ and once again, you don’t need to be a genius to work out what this is about. Like the last tape this is pretty grim, but steeped even more in authenticity due to the camera set up, the lack of clear sound and its brief nature. It delivers exactly what it promises.

Disturbing, violent, pointless yet engrossing perfectly describes this release. As the tapes go on, any initial thoughts of artistic flourishes or subliminal subversion are eradicated and you learn that there is no political or social commentary behind this, there is no semblance of a plot just a very loose and direct narrative described by text at the start of the ‘tape’. In these ‘tapes’ there is only violence and in some cases humiliation making this perfect for gorehounds who want only unadulterated gore and perversion…and it is surprisingly captivating!

This release is also highly recommended for fans of the AUGUST UNDERGROUND movies, NECROPHAGIA music videos (think Nightmare Scenarios release) and goregrind musick. Oh and one final thing Mr El Gore, change up the bathroom every once in a while.

Version Reviewed:
I reviewed a promo copy from Black Lava Entertainment. The release features a whole host of extras including a music video from Anal Fistfuckers and one from Kadaverficker, trailers for most of the tapes, a picture gallery and two brief but worthwhile behind the scenes clips.

Additionally you will get a soundtrack CD featuring 21 gore-oovy tracks from Anal Fistfuckers, Kadaverficker as well as Deathtopia and Whiskey Suicide. A fantastic little bonus especially for fans of the genre and worthy of a review in itself.

The double digipack slipcase release is available from Black Lava and can be found here. A limited edition leatherbook version was also released and can be found here.

JUSTICIA JUSTICIERA III (2016) BY RAFA DENGRA

Reviews

Alternative Titles: Justicia Justiciera III Kungfu Karate Annihilator
Director: Rafa Dengrá aka Alexander Dreissel
Writer: Rafa Dengrá aka Alexander Dreissel
Year: 2016
Starring: Raúl DelaCruz, Rafa Dengrá, Óscar SanJuan, Carlos Prieto, Andrés Rebollo, Renko, Antonio Muñoz, Sarita, Mayka Dengrá.

Synopsis:
Chuck Lee Bronson is accidentally sent into the future instead of the past in order to solve the criminal punk gang problem that has taken over the world. 

Review:
Let’s be clear from the start, this is not a sequel to anything but rather both a ridiculous take on sequels and a reference to the fact that in the story there were two failed attempts to solve the growing criminal gang problem born from angry dressed punk bands which look a more extreme variant of those gangs from the classic 70’s film THE WARRIORS.

Thankfully they, whoever they are, got it right when they sent Chuck Lee Bronson, via a time travelling Rubik’s cube, to restore order in a parallel universe version of 1988. 

Now this short film is pure hilarious 1980’s grindhouse action where both the sheer absurdity of the violence and the un-PC humour combine to make something so entertainingly out there it has to be seen. That said however the use of blackface for comedic effect does leave me somewhat conflicted. I appreciate that mainland Europe possesses a slightly different sensibility around the issue of race and that this short film is also a ridiculous send up of all things but I still struggle to believe that this was the right choice despite it fitting the overall tone.

Anyway that criticism over, and it is my only criticism of this short film it is time to look at the positives and that quite frankly includes everything else. Delacruz and Dengra do a fantastic job on the Fx perfectly nailing that combination of low-fi physical and the digital while understanding both their budgetary limitations and the requirements of the film while the music sets that post-apocalyptic punk tone perfectly – the audio equivalent of the main gang from MAD MAX 2 and special mention goes to Raul Delacruz for his portrayal as the rampant Chuck Lee Bronson. With this type of film it is easy to focus on the humour and use editing to shy away from the martial arts limitations of the lead actor but thankfully for Dengra, it appears that Delacruz does not have these limitations and is able to pull off the moves as and when required switching from roundhouses to hammed facial expressions in a blink of the eye.

The final reason JUSTICIA JUSTICIERA III works is thanks to its breakneck pace. With the  main story delivered through exposition in the first couple of minutes (minus the fun love story arc which adds that personal element) the film is free to just jump from action set piece to set piece keeping things simple and the entertainment high throughout the entire sixteen minutes run time.

With this non-stop action and a hero who isn’t afraid to go above and beyond the call of duty, foetal nunchucks for example, it is easy to overlook that this is actually a well developed and thought out production with nothing left to chance, be it on the screen or on the script. 

If you liked the insanity of the 2015 Swedish action short KUNG FURY then you will absolutely love JUSTICIA JUSTICIERA III which strips away the story element and focuses more on non-stop insane action.

Quite frankly thanks to great editing, strong direction and insane action for fans of insane movies the only thing better than the first twelve minutes are the last five!

LIVE LIKE A COP DIE LIKE A MAN (1976) BY RUGGERO DEODATO

Reviews

Alternative Titles: Uomini si nasce poliziotto so muore; Brigada anticrimen; Het recht in eigenhand; The Terminators
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Writer: Fernando Di Leo
Year: 1976
Starring: Marc Porel, Ray Lovelock, Adolfo Celi, Franco Citti, Silvia Dionisio

Synopsis:
Fred and Tony are members of an elite ‘special squad’ of undercover police in Rome, Italy which thrive on living dangerously with their license-to-kill.

Review:
LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN comes from a story by Alberto Marras (MEET HIM AND DIE), Vincenzo Salviani (THE DEVILS HONEY) and genre legend Fernando Di Leo (MILANO CALIBRO 9; THE BOSS) while it is directed by the notorious Ruggero Deodato (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST; CUT AND RUN; PHANTOM OF DEATH; THE WASHING MACHINE) so for any first time viewer it is understandable that expectations are high for this quasi-buddy cop movie.

Therefore it is almost an anti-climax when it starts with a subdued opening as Fred (Marc Porel – DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING; THE PSYCHIC; THE SISTER OF URSULA) and Tony (Ray Lovelock – OASIS OF FEAR; THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE; VIOLENT ROME; MURDER ROCK) cruise the streets together sharing one motorcycle while a song that could be on almost any light drama plays through. Interestingly it was star Ray Lovelock singing this track, titled Maggie. These opening minutes of LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN are certainly quite misleading but do serve to mark out the relationship between our two leads as intimate with their emotional bond represented by their literal physical proximity.

As the song plays out, it overtaken by the roar of the bike engine and the action begins; a handbag is snatched by a couple of thieves on a motorbike…well almost as the poor female victim had just left the bank and had her bag handcuffed to herself for security with the result being a botched and brutal robbery attempt. These sorts of crimes are presented as a common occurrence in Italian crime films of the decade, and certainly the country struggled with criminal violence throughout this period – rather worryingly motorcycle led crime is seemingly resurgent in cities such as London now due to the flexibility and quick getaway opportunities the smaller vehicles provide.

Rather unfortunately for our young thugs all of this action takes place right in front of Fred and Tony, still yet not identified to the viewer as law enforcement, leading to a ridiculous wheelie, the commandeering of a(nother) motorcycle – after all our heroes cannot share one for a chase can they – and the start of what can only described as a frantic, exhilarating chase complete with quick cuts, POV shots and tight editing.

In fact with something this good you almost don’t want it to end and seemingly neither did director Ruggero Deodato as the sequence becomes almost all encompassing showing us not just the successful weaving in-and-out of traffic but also an error or two, in one case resulting in the patio of a café getting trashed. By the end of this sequence the focus has shifted away from the criminals’ behaviour and become more about the amoral attitude of our supposed law enforcement, something that is tackled verbally by the Police Captain later, who seems unconcerned about the lack of due process. In his mind seemingly the unquestionable authority of the law and the resultant actions are clearly necessary so that wider society can flourish.

While most of the brutal justice at the hands of a lead characters in Poliziotteschi are due to them being failed by the legal system and their superiors (pretty much any Maurizio Merli character for instance falls into this group) here our officers methods are actually condoned by their superiors if not necessarily endorsed although admittedly this tolerance is pushed to the limit. Even so it makes for a rather unsettling situation especially in comparison to films such as THE CONFORMIST by Bernardo Bertolucci and INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION by Elio Petri earlier in the decade that show that what civil repression and unchecked power can do when exploited and abused by those in authority.

As LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN plays out however this would be just one aspect of Fred and Marc’s character traits that are certainly at odds with ideas of freedom, equality and due process. With these films from a bygone era it is easy to either view attitudes from a modern rather than contemporary perspective but similarly it is easy to dismiss clearly unacceptable behaviour as being simply how things were.

The argument that it was a different time and therefore cannot be judged by today’s standards is one to take note of but in more recent times it has been bandied around in relation to reports often of a sexual nature and this clearly is relevant here through the sexist and misogynistic attitude displayed by our anti-heroes.

Admittedly there is an argument in one case for the complicity of the female police secretary – although this then may lead to an off-topic discussion of implications and fear of speaking out – as they frequently beg her for sexual gratification only to be repeatedly knocked back through humour and intelligence as she proves more than a match for their advances. The same cannot be said for the sister of one of the criminals in the film, a nymphomaniac, who undergoes a rather inappropriate form of questioning…twice, later in the film.

However this opinion that we are forming of Fred and Marc is once more further complicated through the closeness of their bond and level of comfort with each other. This element lead Roberto Curti when writing in his book Italian Crime Filmography, 1968-1980 to state that “their misogynist attitude suggests a subterranean homosexual complicity” and this is certainly an opinion I subscribe to, at least to a certain extent.

Their overtly macho posturing and attitude is betrayed by their bond of brotherhood although whether this is sexual, which I would argue not, there is a case to be made for it on an emotional level blurring the lines in how far this platonic love goes.

As a viewer we quickly come to the realisation that Fred and Tony are arrogant and semi-obnoxious, while it is hard to tell if they mean well or get a kick out of their legalised macho bullshit, although from the dialogue in the film it does seem the latter. But when their colleague is gunned down outside of their office, complete with a death fall that has to be in contention for the world’s slowest, they have an added impetus to hate crime and rack up the bodies with this pivotal event helping provide the catalyst for the remaining story.

LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN is structured like so many other eurocrime films, with an underlying story arc complete with a big boss being broken up by several minor or unrelated crimes in order to build context, character, and help drive the narrative forward through action set pieces in order to maintain attention and keep focus – some of these set pieces however are delightfully over the top and exactly what you want to see in a film of this type

One thing that helps place the film in the upper echelons of the genre however is its use of clever story direction as LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN is able to subtly shift tone and feel, with for example one sequence playing out more like a heist movie yet the holistic overall feel of the film remains consistent and coherent, never once breaking the viewers belief in the world or disrupting the flow allowing for an enjoyable and often entertaining experience.

However for whatever reason the film does seem to run out of steam towards the end and while still providing a competent ending it does appear somewhat flat compared to several earlier moments.

Essentially a brutal and amoral Italian Starsky & Hutch, LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN is a decent watch and a strong entry in the genre thanks to the  hugh level of skill of all those involved both in the cast and crew. It does not shy away from character flaws, for better or worse, and interjects some genuine humour into the film allowing it to keep the viewers’ attention without the need for constant violence.

Despite all these positives it is a shame that all of the women, with the exception of Silvia Dionisio come across either as victims of violence or morally corrupt but perhaps that is the point as very few paragons of virtue exist even on the male side with those who do not indulge in excessive behaviour often complicit in enabling it.

Through researching this film it was noted that there was due to be a sequel however due to personal differences between Marc Porel and Ray Lovelock this never really got going. If this was the sole reason then it certainly would have been interesting had Al Cliver, who had just finished working on Ruggero Deodato’s WAVE OF LUST (1975), got the gig as originally mooted.

Version Reviewed:
I reviewed this off of the 88 Films blu-ray release which offers English language audio as well as Italian language with English subtitles. Extras include a trailer and stills gallery along with the now expected reversible sleeve and a neat little poster artcard.