Violent Professionals: A highly praised Italian crime thriller from Sergio Martino about a tough, smooth-guy cop who goes undercover as a wheels man to infiltrate a ring of cop-killin' bank robbers. It's great stuff with a bit more plot complications than the usual pasta-cop outings with some stunning chase sequences thrown in to boot! The friend of a murdered police commissioner infiltrates the mob in an attempt to discover the killer responsible for his former companion's death. His investigative methods are often both violent and illega
Dirty Harry, Italian Style
- The Violent Professionals review by Count Otto Black
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You rated this film: 2
This is a "cult" movie. In other words, the violence is nastier than you'd expect from a mainstream movie made in 1973, and the budget correspondingly lower. Unfortunately it isn't very good.
The basic plot is that the hero, a cop so ruthless that he guns down criminals who are trying to surrender because life imprisonment's too good for them, wants to avenge another cop who died at a very early stage in the film, therefore he goes undercover as a pimp, and proceeds to behave so ultra-violently that the gang his late buddy was trying to track down will doubtless hire him for their next caper. Or something along those lines, anyway. Even for an Italian exploitation film, the English dubbing's atrocious, and clearly not written by somebody whose first language was English, so it's sometimes hard to tell exactly why people do things. Though I suspect it wouldn't make much more sense in Italian. Amazingly, this loopy scheme works! Though not before our... er... hero?? has arranged a vacancy for himself by cunningly sabotaging a bank raid, resulting in the deaths of several people, only some of whom were criminals as opposed to innocent passers-by.
Along the way we get a few frantic but under-populated car-chases (by the way, weren't early seventies Italian cars terrible?) in which the feat of driving at speed through a pile of burning cardboard boxes is supposed to be so impressive that we see it from several different angles in slow motion, and no matter how badly they crash, cars don't explode into fireballs like they're supposed to because the budget didn't run to it. Also, this is an Italian exploitation movie with no nudity whatsoever, despite featuring a palatial mansion filled with dozens of hippies indulging in a 24/7 orgy of sex and drugs. Which, in case you think that sounds interesting, resembles a refugee camp during an outbreak of sleeping sickness, a wasted opportunity that would have had Roger Corman spinning in his grave, had he been dead. As for the violence, it's no more excessive than you'd get in the average spaghetti western, and there isn't really a lot of it. There is, however, quite a lot of poorly dubbed Very Strong Language - always a cheap way to get an 18 certificate.
The biggest problem, though, is the hero. Luc Merenda is no Clint Eastwood, and that's putting it mildly! At absolutely no point did I care about him in the slightest, because when he's not smirking annoyingly, which he does most of the time, he doesn't really seem to have any emotions at all. Since he's the worst cop ever, allowing numerous people to die, some of whom are entirely innocent, just to avenge some other cop who was in the movie for about a minute, a wee bit of acting would help considerably, if only he could do it. But alas, he can't. Striking cheekbones though. However, there's nobody else in the movie you care about either, apart from a few minor villains so horrendous that you pay attention to them because you want them to die.
The twist ending is, I suppose, quite original, in that it isn't directly lifted from every other gritty thriller made just before this one, and it's very fashionable in terms of what radical young film-goers wanted to see back them (and maybe still do), but it needs more than a surprise baddie going all Bond Villain to save this weak effort. Especially as the criminal mastermind whose grandiose (and ludicrous) plans are revealed at a very late stage is trying to achieve them with the aid of a small gang of incompetent hippies, uncontrollable psychopaths, and of course undercover cops he hired by mistake. You have to wonder how they ever got to be a serious problem in the first place.