The Violent Professionals

Dir: Sergio Martino
Star: Luc Merenda, Richard Conte, Silvano Tranquilli, Martine Brochard

The grade somewhat reflects a really shitty transfer in the Grindhouse Experience set: while letterbox, it appears to have been taken from a badly-mangled VHS tape, with the audio frequently fluttering so badly, the dialogue becomes inaudible. That inevitably hampers enjoyment - and even understanding - of this film, to a significant degree. The "hero" - quotes used advisedly - is Commissario Giorgio Caneparo (Merenda), who makes Dirty Harry look like a pussy. He gets into trouble for shooting an escaped cop-killer who was in the process of surrendering to cops, which establishes his zero-tolerance policy for...well, just about everyone. As the film puts it, "Give Giorgio a free hand, and he'd kick hell out of half of humanity - and put a slug in the rest." Things really escalate after his friend and mentor Gianni Viviani (Tranquilli) is gunned down in the street, and Caneparo takes over the investigation of a murky secret organization, on which Viviani was working when he was killed. He goes undercover as a getaway driver which leads, after some more policing that could kindly be described as "unconventional", to entry into the conspiracy. Even after the cabal behind it discover his true identity, they believe they have much in common, and make him an offer he probably shouldn't refuse.

Obviously, this owes an awful lot to the hard-boiled detective films churned out by Hollywood around those times, but there are aspects to this which are uniquely Italian. For instance, hard to imagine Clint Eastwood sleeping with a hooker, beating up her pimp...and then taking that role over for himself. There are defintely some elements of plotting which require a certain suspension of disbelief, e.g. the ease with which Gianni is able to infiltrate a criminal enterprise, by posing as a driver, but I have to say, the resulting action scenes have a realistic edge to them which nods to the likes of Bullitt, and Merenda (who was a staple of the genre, and also got a cameo in Hostel 2) is almost perfect for the role. He has the right balance of charisma and insanity, so you can see how he would push forward when anyone else (of greater sanity) would give up. Just a shame that the presentation here is not up to the same standard.

[November 2012]

All Cops Are Bastards
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