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7/10
More Hard-boiled madness
Bezenby1 December 2017
Poor Mario Adorf. He just wants to pimp out his girls in Milan and give the cash to his ex-wife and his sickly young daughter. He's not a bad guy really, although he doesn't like it when guys try to rough up his girls. Mario's just getting on with his petty criminal life when all of a sudden he's being hunted down not only by the local crime boss, but by two hard faced American hit men too.

The hit men, Henry Silva and Woody Strode, have been sent to track him down and kill him in the most violent and brutal way possible as lesson from the US Mafia to those in Italy thinking of stealing heroin shipments. This might be all well and good, if in fact Mario had actually stolen anything. Instead the poor guy spends most of the film being hunted down like a dog while having no idea whatsoever why people want to kill him.

There's more pressure on Mario as the local don (Adolfo Celi) doesn't like the presence of two American gangsters on his turf and sends his men out to capture Mario. Every petty criminal in Milan knows that Mario's a marked man, so who can he trust? His hookers?

While this is a little thin story wise, the film itself is rather good. Henry Silva truly looks like a guy who would stab you in the face one minute then put the moves on your wife the next. Woody Strode is the straight man to all Silva's shenanigans, and Adolfo Celi nearly outdoes Silva in the hard-case gangster role, especially at near the end where the demented Mario finally confronts him. It's Mario Adorf that steals the show here as the clueless, but not helpless, Mario, as he jumps from being a flawed but caring father to a man who has been pushed about as far as someone can be.

Although the first half sets up all the characters and has a punch up or two, the film gradually gets more and more violent as you would expect, and of course it's standard practice to throw in a car chase too. This one goes from a car chase to a foot chase and even has Mario smashing his head through a windscreen in order to get at a gangster. From then it's non-stop until the gunfight in the scrapyard.

Funky soundtrack too. Loud, with it.
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Be patient, and the movie will pay off
Wizard-82 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I must confess that when it comes to Italian genre cinema, my tastes usually go to spaghetti westerns. But I do try on a regular basis to sample other kinds of Italian movies, including crime/gangster movies. What attracted me to watch "The Italian Connection" was the presence of Henry Silva and Woody Strode. Well, they are in fine form, though I wish the movie gave them a little more to do, since they spend a lot of the movie just waiting around. A bigger problem was that the first thirty or so minutes of the movie are pretty slow and drab, so much so that I thought about giving up on the movie. But I'm glad I didn't, because after that first half hour, the movie really jumps into gear. Lead actor Mario Adorf does a great job, not coming across as a stereotypical tough action star, but instead someone driving by desperation and vengeance. Seeing this unlikely character get into gunplay and other action is really exciting, because you'll keep wondering if he'll prevail. And the action scenes are great, most notably a fantastic long chase sequence alternately on foot and with vehicles that beats many action sequences coming out of Hollywood at the time. The very ending feels kind of unfinished and will have you asking, "Well, what now?" - which the movie does not answer. But that's a minor quibble. I've got four more crime movies by director Fernando di Lio on DVD waiting to be watched, and I can't wait to sample them.
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9/10
What a fantastic movie!
bensonmum228 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A heroin shipment between Italy and New York goes missing and a small time pimp, Luca Canali (Mario Ardof), is wrongly blamed (actually, framed is probably more accurate). The New York boss sends two hit men to Milan take out Luca. Luca's also got the Milan boss and his goons breathing down his neck. But Luca's not going to go down without fight.

What a fantastic movie! The Italian Connection (or Manhunt or any of the other names this movie has been released under) is the second film in director Fernando Di Leo's "milieu trilogy". While I'm not sure I enjoyed The Italian Connection quite as much as Caliber 9 (I still haven't seen The Boss), they're both excellent, exciting, gritty movies. I think my preference for Caliber 9 is related to the plot twists near the end. Otherwise, it's hard to choose.

I'm a relative newbie as far as Di Leo goes, but he's quickly becoming one of my favorites. Di Leo had the ability to film action as well as any director I've run across. Luca's chase scene across Milan is just brilliant. De Leo's film is often bloody and brutal, but always entertaining. I hate to spoil anything, so I'll just say that there is one death scene (and you'll know it when you see it) that Di Leo filmed and set-up in such a way that it's heartbreaking. The cinematography is stunning. The gritty streets and alleyways of Milan are photographed like works of art. And the film's pacing is excellent. There's not a dull moment in the entire runtime. In fact, I would use the word "frantic" to describe much of the movie – particularly the chase.

The acting in The Italian Connection is spectacular. First, Mario Ardof is wonderful as Luca. I really can't say enough positives about him. The fact that he (and Di Leo) was able to take a low- life, scummy, greasy pimp like Luca and turn him into a sympathetic hero is nothing short of remarkable. It's a truly brilliant piece of acting. In addition to Ardof, the cast includes Henry Silva and Woody Storde as the ruthless New York hit men, Adolfo Celi as the Milan boss, Luciana Paluzzi of Thunderball fame, and Sylva Koscina as Luca's estranged wife. It's quite a strong, talented cast for a movie of this type.

I could go on and on praising The Italian Connection, but I'll end it here. Even though I said I preferred Caliber 9, I'm rating The Italian Connection the same 9/10. It's that good.
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9/10
Pumping Italian mafia revenge classic
Leofwine_draca21 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A pumping soundtrack. An appealing cast. A profanity-strewn script. A pace that never lets up. Oodles of hard-knuckle thrills and incredibly sadistic action. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, what we have in our hands is MANHUNT IN MILAN, another top-notch Italian crime thriller which plays like a pasta version of CHARLEY VARRICK, albeit without the classy acting and intelligent script, but at least it's a lot more exciting. MANHUNT IN MILAN is proof of the fact that the Italians are in their element when staging elaborate high-speed car chases through beautiful sun-bleached city locations or fast shoot-outs where, if you blink, you'll no doubt miss a death or two. This is a great viewing experience that easily rivals the work of Umberto Lenzi and Maurizio Merli in their later great collaborations in the genre.

This sleazy film takes time in introducing the leading anti-hero character of Luca Canali, a good-natured pimp who nevertheless likes to hang out at dodgy clubs and surround himself with naked Italian women. Canali is played to perfection by Mario Adorf as a greasy, loud-fashioned yet kind and initially gentle man who is pushed to the edge as he finds himself pursued across his home city by a series of increasingly violent hit men, who work for big-name gangster Don Vito, played by one-time Bond villain and genre regular Adolfo Celi who excels at this kind of thing and pulls the part off perfectly. The stakes are raised when Adorf's ex-wife and child are brutally murdered by the Mafia and he arms himself to take revenge, taking out Don Vito's entire family in the process and eliminating tons of goons in exciting shoot-outs.

The various thrills are handled spectacularly by director Fernando Di Leo (an action specialist who also gave the world CALIBRE 9 - also with Adorf). The pacing is slow to start off with but gradually builds up into breakneck speed, culminating in a huge city-wide chase sequence at around the hour mark which is truly amazing stuff. Stuntmen risk their lives, vehicles are totalled in milliseconds, and you'll be swept away by the rhythmic music that perfectly accompanies the action and makes the whole thing madly exciting. Definitely one of the best chases I've seen in the movie and, trust me, I've seen a lot. The finale, in which Adorf faces off against the two hit men in a junkyard, is highly suspenseful and ends with a fine imaginative payoff for the villains.

When it comes to the violence, Di Leo doesn't hold back, with women being savagely beaten, point-blank gunshots to the head, and all manner of beatings and stabbings along the way. The main reason the film works, however, is that it never loses touch with characterisation, instead fleshing out Silva and Strode from being one-dimensional villains into understandable, even somewhat likable real people. Along with Adorf and Celi, Silva and Strode (great-sounding pair, that) put in excellent portrayals of ruthless hit men. Silva is fine as the smarmy womanising partner whilst Strode is at his best playing it tough and silent. The supporting cast are also fine with lots of familiar faces in minor parts, these include Luciana Paluzzi as the fragile female lead and Puzzle's Bruno Corazzari playing yet another sleazy low-life. The cast, the pacing and the action combine to make MANHUNT IN MILAN one of the Italian 'polizia' (I guess it falls into this category despite the almost total absence of police in the film) to beat and a highlight of the Italian film industry. See it!
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10/10
Fernando Di Leo mines euro crime gold!
Darkling_Zeist23 January 2014
Masterful genre Director, Fernando Di Leo mines euro crime gold with 'La Mala Ordina', which proves to be yet another a satisfying, full bore actioner with everyone's favourite concrete-haired heavy, Henry Silva teaming up with the towering, Woody Strode as two quick-fisted, slow- witted NY hoods whose demonstrative presence amongst the Italian underworld engenders a deadly schism betwixt the two rival factions; the Italian contingent bristling in vociferous indignation as the arrogant, Silva and Strode throw their considerable cumulative weight around. And it has to be said that, Armando Trovajoli's grittier than gunpowder crime funk score is a break heavy delight; a veritable phat bass'd motherlode for beat junkies and audiophiles alike.
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6/10
If you have liked other Di Leo movies, you will certainly also like The Italian Connection.
Comeuppance Reviews15 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Two goons, Dave Catania (Silva) and Frank Webster (Strode) are sent from New York to Italy to kill a small-time pimp named Luca Canali (Adorf). Helping out the two men is Eva (Paluzzi). Luca seems to be outsmarting his killers at every turn so the whole situation escalates and Don Vito Tressoldi (Celi) is not happy. Claiming Luca is starting a war, and he "doesn't want to be beaten by a loser", Tressoldi cruelly ups the stakes by attacking Luca's family. Now Luca is out for revenge, as opposed to just deflecting all the attempts on his life. Will he succeed? Fernando Di Leo cranks out another winner here. Milano Calibro 9 (1972) is better (though it's always open for debate) but La Mala Ordina, as it was known originally, is a very strong movie as well, with its masterfully shot and edited climax (like the rest of the movie), a similar sense of toughness, the decor, the style, and of course, the movie highlight, the car chase. The chase, along with a fairly tenuous connection to a heroin shipment (it's not mentioned very much in the movie), were obviously the catalysts to retitle this movie in the wake of the success of The French Connection (1971).

Adorf, who also put in a great performance in Milano Calibro 9, excels in the lead role of Luca Canali. It was wise to put Adorf out front, even if it seems now like an obvious choice. Henry Silva is kind of a fan favorite even though he doesn't have any facial expressions. But his hair is better here than we can remember anyplace else. His partner, played by Woody Strode, seems a bit out of sorts, but Di Leo thought enough of him to put him in The Violent Breed (1984) later on in their careers. Three well-known beauties of the day, Luciana Paluzzi, Femi Benussi and Sylva Koscina are on hand to make things more interesting, as is Cyril Cusack as a mob boss. The whole thing is topped off with one of Armando Trovajoli's funkiest and best scores.

There's also a certain counter-cultural element at work here which would be fleshed out more completely in later Fernando Di Leo films, most notably Avere Vent'anni (1978). The underground culture of the day is a recurrent theme in Di Leo's movies and found its way into whatever he was working on, regardless of the genre. This sets his movies apart to a certain extent and it's fascinating to see, simply as a document of the era.

If you have seen and liked other Di Leo movies, you will certainly also like The Italian Connection (if you see the Raro DVD that is, not one of the innumerable cheapo VHS releases). If not, this is as good a place as any to start, mainly because there's nothing really NOT to like about this fine film.
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6/10
Non brutto potboiler from Fernando Di Leo
JasparLamarCrabb27 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Another violence-fueled gangster film from the great Fernando Di Leo. A New York mafioso (Cyril Cusack!) sends hit men Henry Silva & Woody Strode to Milan to kill small-time pimp Mario Adorf. Adorf, a not so bright low-level crook, is baffled by the pursuit and even more perplexed as to why local mafia don Adolfo Celi is after him as well. Everything falls into place in this absurd potboiler with Adorf giving another hammy, albeit highly entertaining, performance. Di Leo keeps this one moving at such a fast pace, it's impossible to not enjoy it. One car chase, between Adorf and one of Celi's goons, it as bizarre as it is breathtaking. Silva and Strode have little to do but roam around looking scary. They're helped by good girl Luicana Paluzzi and get trouble from bad girl Francesca Romana Coluzzi. Classy Sylva Koscina appears briefly as Adorf's angry ex-wife.
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8/10
Excellent Fernando Di Leo crime flick
Red-Barracuda22 March 2013
The Italian Connection is yet another movie that proves conclusively that Fernando Di Leo was the master director of the poliziotteschi. These action-thrillers were Italy's answer to the violent crime films that emerged in America in the early 70's. Di Leo made several and this one may very well be arguably the best. Its story is underpinned by a shipment of heroin that is stolen en route from Milan to New York. A couple of American mafia hit-men are dispatched to Italy to find and kill the pimp who is accused of the theft. This man is innocent of this crime, however, and he proves to be a surprisingly resourceful opponent.

One of the main strengths of this movie is its cast. Everyone suits their roles very well. Mario Adorf is particularly excellent as the pimp who becomes the unlikely hero. Adorf puts in a very energetic performance that really drives the film. Poliziotteschi veteran Henry Silva and Woody Strode are suitably mean as the mafia killers, seemingly their pairing was the reason Quentin Tarantino cast John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson as the legendary hit-men in Pulp Fiction (for this alone The Italian Connection deserves a footnote in film history). Rounding things off we have Adolfo Celi (Danger: Diabolik) as the mafia don and Femi Benussi (Hatchet for the Honeymoon) gets substantially naked in a role as a prostitute.

Like most of these types of movies there is a lot of moral ambiguity here. There are no heroes in the truest sense. The identification figure is a low level pimp after all. This makes it a crime film in the truest sense. But it is also a very good action flick. Of particular note is a spectacular chase sequence where a van fires through town with a man hanging off the front while head-butting his way through the windshield! There is, overall, a healthy dose of violent action in general in this one, climaxing in a great scene in a junk-yard.

Along with Milan Calibre 9 and The Boss, this is a top level example of this kind of movie from Fernando Di Leo.
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8/10
Who said anything about wasting a bullet on a pimp.
Ben Larson29 January 2013
Poliziottesco, a fusion of the words poliziotto ("policeman") and the same -esco desinence, indicates 1970s-era Italian-produced "tough cop" and crime movies. Recurring elements in poliziotteschi films include graphic and brutal violence, organized crime, car chases, vigilantism, heists, gunfights, and corruption up to the highest levels.

With directors like Fernando Di Leo, these films replaced the spaghetti westerns. They saw their decline after erotica and horror took over in the late 70s.But it was the spaghetti westerns that gave Di Leo his training. He wrote the script for A Fistful of Dollars, and was assistant director under Sergio Leone in For a Few Dollars More.

The films of Fernando Di Leo had a great influence on later directors like Quentin Tarantino and John Woo.

Henry Silva(Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Above the Law) puts in one of his best performances in this film. He is excellent as a sleazy hit-man. Woody Strode (Spartacus, Kingdom of the Spiders) is very good as Silva's partner.

Lots of action, one car chase, and plenty of big naturals. Mario Adorf stole the show with his huge range of facial expressions.
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7/10
"Do your best to look like a couple of gangsters."
classicsoncall26 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, the accolades paid to this film by the reviewers on this board make me wonder if any of them had seen "The Godfather". That film came out the same year and by comparison, there is no comparison. But for what it is, "Manhunt", the title I saw this under, is a perfectly low brow take on Italian gangsters ruffled by a pair of American hit-men sent to make good on a six million dollar stash of missing heroin. I'm not familiar with director Fernando di Leo or his acclaimed trilogy, but this is passable enough if you've got the time to spare. Effective as the framed pimp Luca Canali, Mario Adorf delivers a believably crazed performance when up close and personal with fellow thugs who get in his face. Particularly effective is his head-butting style, which at one point takes out a menacing telephone that happened to get in the way. If you like your Italian crime films sprinkled with some skin, this one delivers on that score as well, with gratuitous amounts of go-go strippers who appear to be above the pay grade for this flick, so that's just an unexpected benefit. What made it for me was the well cast duo from the States, Henry Silva and Woody Strode in a two decade early preview of Travolta and Jackson in "Pulp Fiction". If you made it this far, stick around for the junkyard scene with the swinging steel jaws as the gangsters shoot it out with THE gangster. It's not pretty, but it is cool. Very cool.
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6/10
Royale W/Out Cheese
skullislandsurferdotcom18 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Although two New York hit men, Henry Silva and Woody Strode, supposedly templates of Quentin Tarantino's Jules and Vincent PULP FICTION thugs, are far better villains than local Mario Adorf is a antihero, this Italian mobsploitation juggles each character decently enough... and everything narrows down to one thing only: Adorf, as small time pimp Luca Canali, is – if Silva and Strode can help it – a dead man.

The endearing traits of imported crime movies are here in droves: the wah-wah peddle guitar vibrates through the bursting horn section orchestrating insert-heavy action scenes, naked ladies, and a pivotal car chase as Canali, with a fierce boar-like countenance, seeks the thug who killed his family.

More attention on Silva, a sly womanizing braggart, and Strode, the brooding baseline, would have been nice – they're far too cool to serve as an eventual backdrop to Canali's quest to survive and then seek answers. That is, until the incredible climactic shootout between all three within a junkyard.

Tarantino swears by this one, and who's to argue?

For More Reviews: www.cultfilmfreaks.com
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8/10
"I killed enough people to fill a cemetery"
mylimbo22 May 2011
Two professional hit men from the States are hired to track down a small-time pimp Luca Canali in Milan, as this man was accused of the disappearance of a shipment of heroin between Milan and New York. Well that's what they are to believe by local crime boss Don Tressoldi. Their job is to brutally kill Luca and make a message of it. However Luca doesn't know why they want him and he won't go down too easy, as he tries to get to the bottom of it.

This confidently gritty 70s Italian crime thriller might start off slowly, but when it hits its strides. Boy it doesn't let up. What starts off talky where you are waiting for things to happen gets better as it moves along, where plot threads unfold and it suddenly becomes impulsively hazardous. There's one sensational car / foot chase sequence that packs brute force and never gives you a chance to catch a breath. It's very well done. Most of the action follows the same dynamic pattern. Thrilling, tough and intense with constant roughness. Fist fighting, scuffles and shootouts… as the sweat pours and the bruises are inflicted. Hear and see it! Not escaping is the seedy hook, brassily loud instrumental score, compact camera-work and authentic European locations.

Some well known players feature in the cast. Woody Strode and Henry Silva are the American assassins. Strode plays the quiet, steady head and Silva's a live-wire, womanizer. Complete opposites, but the same rather deadly and downright bad-asses. This shows in the lethal cat and mouse climax in a car scrap-yard with Mario Adorf's character. Adorf holds his own with a respectable turn, constantly making a slip when the manhunt begins, but after a tragedy hits. Now he's fuelled by revenge… going in head first. The script is just as jagged, as like the editing but there's a sardonic edge to it and the excessive melodramatics ups the emotions and motivations.

Hard-boiled, if bittersweet Italian crime entertainment.
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9/10
A typically fine and hard-hitting Italian crime thriller doozy by Fernando Di Leo
Woodyanders4 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Hearty, but tough and resourceful small-time pimp Luca Canali (an excellent performance by Mario Adorf) gets framed as a fall guy by the flinty, ruthless Don Vito Tressoldi (superbly played by Adolfo Celi) for the disappearance of a shipment of heroin. Tressoldi hires volatile hit-man Dave Catania (a splendidly slimy Henry Silva) and his more low-key partner Frank Webster (the always formidable Woody Strode) to rub Luca out, but Luca proves to be a surprisingly worthy adversary who vows revenge on the mob after they kill his wife and daughter. Director/co-writer Fernando Di Leo delivers an exceptionally fierce, gripping, and stirring crime yarn that benefits substantially from a hard, gritty, no-nonsense tone, shocking outbursts of ugly and savage violence, a constant snappy pace, a generous sprinkling of tasty female nudity, and a positively ferocious take-no-prisoners attitude. Better still, there's no needless filler or silly humor to detract from the jolting harshness of the taut and arresting narrative. The uniformly sound acting from a top-drawer cast rates as another major asset: Adorf makes for a likable anti-hero and redoubtable brute force of nature as Luca, Celi totally oozes as the treacherous Don Vito, Silva and Strode as utterly convincing as a pair of very dangerous and threatening dudes, Luciana Paluzzi adds class as elegant escort Eva Lalli, and Femi Benussi acquits herself well in a sizable supporting part as whiny hooker Nana. Franco Villa's polished cinematography makes nice occasional use of tilted camera angles and whiplash pans. Armando Trovajoli's funky, jazzy, syncopated score likewise hits the spot. The climactic shoot-out in a junkyard is simply fantastic. Well worth seeing.
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6/10
good but not great
dbborroughs29 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Stars Henry Silva and Woody Strode as two hit men who are dispatched to Italy to find a low level mobster who had "lost", really stolen, 6 million in heroine and who resold it. They are told to make his death as painful and public as possible. The trouble is that target has a knack for getting loose and despite the best efforts of all involved things go far from smoothly.

Good but not great mob story has the advantage in that in keeps moving. Once things are set in motion the film just goes. You want to see how this is going to come out and to me makes it worth a bowl of popcorn and a soda, even if you won't need to see it again.
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The kind of film Tarantino would love to gab about
chaos-rampant14 June 2009
This is the second film from Ferdinando Di Leo I've seen and I must say I'm as unimpressed as I was after seeing Milano Calibro 9. While Di Leo might be the kind of director Tarantino loves to gab about, and some of the directors QT loves to gab about deserve all that gabbing, Di Leo's films sure don't seem to be worth much. Which is too bad because, unlike Umberto Lenzi who made fullblown caricatures of hardboiled street violence, Di Leo seems to shoot for more.

So a bunch of interesting ideas that we're already familiar from prior genre knowledge, the occasional twist to a story that is not very original or astounding, decent action set-pieces, but everything constantly undermined by bad acting and lamentable directing. Di Leo was probably a better writer than he was a director and he wasn't a great writer to begin with. Unlike the gritty, hyperkinetic realism of Kinji Fukasaku, a product of conscious artistic decision deployed with conviction as part of a larger commentary on the bleak situation of postwar Japan, Di Leo's gritty is a jumbled heap of jagged editing, awkward pans and zooms, needless cuts and cramped frames that show a director practically making it up as he went along.

Mario Adorf chews every scenery in a 3 mile radius but he does show considerable physical skills in his action scenes. Woody Strode's strong silent type on the other hand earns points for simply being strong and silent - and staring like he means it. The story of two American hit men chasing a flamboyant pimp around Milan to plant half a dozen bullets in his head for stealing drug money is half-interesting but the execution, when it doesn't erupt in outbursts of slaps and punches, leaves a lot to be desired.
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9/10
Hot in the City, Hot in the City, Tonight!
Coventry30 March 2009
"Manhunt" is a fantastic title for a fantastic Italian action/thriller with even more fantastic testosterone-laden characters and a fantastically dazzling level of excitement. Admittedly I'm slightly biased, as I'm a sucker for Italian cult cinema in general, but hey, apparently so are all my fellow reviewers around here! The second installment in Fernando Di Leo's Italian mafia trilogy is definitely on par with the other two, "Milano Calibro .9" and "The Boss", and I rated those respectively 10/10 and 9/10. The three films take place in similar locations and often even star the same cast members, but nonetheless they're entirely divergent and distinctly unique achievements. "Manhunt" mainly excels through a vastly simplistic yet hugely fascinating plot, but also through a handful of jaw-dropping shock sequences and perplexing performances. Two relentless American hit men arrive in Milan with the assignment to eliminate the guy who was supposedly responsible for a shipment of heroin gone missing. Basically a routine job, but the boss wants to set an example out of this case and instructs for the kill to be mighty and spectacular. One problem, however, the target Luca Canali is only a small time pimp wrongfully appointed as the culprit by the competition and he unexpectedly safeguards himself tremendously from the massive manhunt held against him. Mega-gifted director Di Leo masterfully illustrates the titular manhunt, as we gradually witness how Luca Canali transforms from a casual & presumptuous little thug into an almost likable and forcedly infuriated anti-hero. Mario Adorf gives away a stunning performance as Luca; a literally unstoppable man of steel – the dude crushes telephones and windshields with his bare head - who honestly has no idea what overcomes him but continues to battle for his survival nevertheless. His opponents, played by "Poliziottesco" veteran Henry Silva and Woody Strode, are convincingly menacing as well. The film is also stuffed with bestial showdowns and adrenalin-rushing chase sequences. The violence in "Manhunt" is uncompromising as hell and literally nothing or no one escapes the extreme brutality, not even children, women or adorable young kittens. Some of the settings are overly clichéd (like the topless dancing) and the nudity footage is a bit too gratuitous (random hippie orgies), but those are just insignificant little defaults in an overall first-rate 70's thriller. "Manhunt", as well as the aforementioned other two installments of Fernando Di Leo's mafia trilogy, is a definite must for action fanatics with nerves of steel.
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Recommended, but look for the Italian version
lazarillo29 August 2008
Two vicious hit men (Henry Silva and Woody Strode) are sent by the New York mob to Milan, Italy to "make an example" of a small-time pimp (Mario Adolph) who is believed to be responsible for a missing shipment of heroin. The two hit-man have the support of the local Milan mafia don (Adolf Celli), who may know more than he's telling about the missing heroin, but their target turns out to be much more wily and dangerous than they could have possibly anticipated.

Although this Ferdinand de Leo crime thriller is regarded as a minor masterpiece of the genre, it has only been released in America so far on a crappy VHS tape which really hampers the enjoyment. It's full-frame, horribly cropped with the kind of muddy, off-color transfer that gives third generation bootlegs a not-so-bad name. The dubbing could charitably be described as indifferent--it's like they pulled random English speakers off the street and had them read from cue cards. The women in these movies are typically just sex objects, but still you would think that an actress of Femi Benussi's stature in Italian exploitation films (maybe a rung below Edwige Fenech and Barbara Bouchet) would at least get CREDIT for the important role of the protagonist's ill-fated, former prostitute girlfriend. (And her patented long, butt-naked nude scene would probably be a little more enjoyable if the ample skin she shows wasn't bluish-gray due to the lousy transfer). Perhaps most ridiculous though, the whole thing is presented as a "blaxploitation" film due to the presence of African-American actor Woody Strode (who's obviously dubbed by a white guy) even though the real protagonist here is a white Italian.

The action scenes are very effective though despite the transfer. It's also a pretty good basic story. I like these movies where there's a criminal anti-hero taking on the mob rather than the usual vigilante cop. The Italian crime thrillers certainly have their share of vigilante cops (the genre was largely inspired by "Dirty Harry" and "The French Connection"), but even these films at least acknowledge that that there's moral ambiguity in the world and that violence isn't always a clean solution for every problem. Overall, I would recommend this, but if you're going to get it at all, it probably would be worth seeking out a widescreen Italian version with English subtitles. Avoid the laughable "Black Kingpin" version.
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9/10
This Manhunt is Breathtaking And Without Mercy!
The second film in Fernando Di Leo's 'Milieu' trilogy, "La Mala Ordina" aka. "Manhunt" of 1972 is, in my opinion just not quite as brilliant as the foregoing masterpiece "Milano Calibro 9" (also 1972) and its brilliant successor "Il Boss" (1973), and yet this is an excellent and breathtaking crime epic that no lover of Italian genre-cinema could possibly afford to miss. The tough-minded and violent film, which has been released under many aka. titles such as "Hit Men", "Hired To Kill", "The Italian Connection" or even the absolutely inappropriate title "Black Kingpin", is breathtaking from the beginning to the end and profits from a brilliant cast. The plot revolves around Luca Canali (Mario Adorf), a small-time pimp, who suddenly has to fear for his life when he is framed for the disappearance of a shipment of heroin. Canali, who has no clue who the real thieves are, is soon mercilessly hunted by both the local mafia and two contract killers sent by the American mob (Henry Silva and Woody Strode)...

The role of Luca Canali fits Mario Adorf perfectly. I'm a fan of Adorf in general, he was always best in roles of the kind, and he delivers an excellent performance here. Henry Silva (one of my favorite actors) and Woody Strode (another great actor) are easily equally brilliant as the two American hit men, who are ultra-tough, but also responsible for the humorous scenes in the film, as Silva is constantly hitting on everything female while Strode is dead-serious and hardly says a word. The rest of the performances are also good, Adolfo Celi, who is probably best known for playing James Bond villain Mr. Largo in "Fireball" plays the Milan mafia don, and the female cast is entirely nice to look at. The story is not quite as convoluted as it was the case in "Milano Calibro 9", but "Manhunt" is still a tantalizing and uncompromising from the beginning to the end, and filled with non-stop action and brutal violence. The score is also great, and the camera-work ingenious. To me personally, "Manhunt" is not quite as brilliant as "Milano Calibro 9" and "Il Boss". These two films, however, are in my opinion easily two of the greatest gangster films ever brought to screen, and even though slightly inferior, "Manhunt" is still an awesome piece of crime cinema that is excellent in all aspects and easily surpasses most famed American gangster-classics. Excellent film-making, an absolute must-see for every fan of Italian genre cinema.
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9/10
Fantastic Polizi flick!
The_Void18 November 2007
I'm a big fan of Italian crime flicks, and I'm an especially big fan of this one as it's one of the best out there! The Italian Connection is a part of a loose trilogy by director Fernando Di Leo, the other two parts being the excellent Milano Calibro 9 and The Boss, which I've not seen yet. As good as Milano Calibro 9 is, this film is better and I'll be very surprised if it's topped by The Boss. Like many Italian cult films, this one has a list of a.k.a. titles as long as my arm. I saw it under the title 'The Italian Connection', but it's alternative title 'Manhunt' is probably the most suitable considering the plot. It's quite a simple tale of crime and revenge. First we are introduced to two American contract killers who are given the task of going to Milan to track down a pimp named Luca Canali who apparently stole a large amount of heroin from the killer's employers. However, it soon transpires that they've been misinformed when the local crime boss also wants to get his hands on Carneli, before it comes to the killer's employer's attention that it was really him that stole the heroin...

The main reason why this film works is down to the simple plotting. The plot itself actually has quite a lot of angles, but director Fernando Di Leo keeps the focus on one thing at a time and that ensures that the film is always thrilling and easy to follow. Fernando Di Leo is clearly very good at directing crime flicks, aside from the aforementioned trilogy of which this film is a part; he also has a handful of other crime flicks to his name, including the very good Kidnap Syndicate. This film is set up like a chase movie, we have the contract killer chasing our unlikely hero (the pimp) for the first part of the movie, then he's being chased the local crime boss' men and the story is given a nice twist in the final third. Cult actor Mario Adorf is great as the pimp Luca Canali; he makes an unlikely hero, but an engaging and interesting one. Henry Silva and Woody Strode are effective as the contract killers, while the cast is nicely topped off by Adolfo Ceri as Milan's crime boss. I would say that this is a fun film to watch, but it's also rather brutal; a sequence involving a cat in a scrap yard at the end sums that up. Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to name The Italian Connection as one of my all time favourite Italian crime flicks, and this one therefore comes highly recommended.
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10/10
Strongly recommended for beginners in Italian police films
dottorepaulo14 September 2005
I spent much time in studying Italian police films of this era - and this one sticks out as one of the best. Unlike other Di Leo flicks - this one has a decent story, features B+ actors like Mario Adorf and Adolfo Celli (Mr. Largo in OO7's Thunderball), the editing is fast and rhythmic and it contains only one car chase but this one has it. The films owes its quality largely to the German-Italian actor Mario Adorf (already playing in one other Di Leo Film "Milano Calibro 9") - Adorf is witty, has a face with a thousand expressions and perfectly impersonates the change of small-town-pimp into a revenge-driven killing machine - without overdoing it. Unlike other films of this genre this one is tightly bound by a reasonable script, logical development of the characters and a rough, greasy camera-style. Editing is superb in timing, no frame is wasted for stupid dialogues or the typical 70ies mood shots (you see a scenery with someone walking and nothing happens). This film is perfect for exploring this genre.
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7/10
Well-Made Spaghetti Crime Thriller
zardoz-132 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"La Mala Ordina" (1972) ranks as a brutal, violent, no-holds-barred, urban crime thriller from Italian director Fernando Di Leo. New York mafia kingpin Corso ("The Day of the Jackal" gunsmith Cyril Cusack) dispatches two laconic, no-nonsense torpedoes, Dave (Henry Silva of "Johnny Cool") and Frank (Woody Strode of "The Professionals"), to Milan to knock off Luca Canali (a heavily mustached Mario Adorf of "Fedora"), an inconsequential pimp who has been framed by the Milan mafia for stealing heroin from New York. The likable Luca is surprised when he discovers that two Americans are hunting him down. Talk about an underdog hero who uses his head, in one scene, our outraged protagonist head butts a telephone and shatters it. Meanwhile, Dave and Frank seem to be loitering around Milan with a pretty tour guide Eva Lalli ("Thunderball" bad girl Luciana Paluzzi) who doesn't seem to realize how notorious her two charges are. Rough stuff galore follows in what is a generally comprehensible, hard-knuckled Mafioso melodrama. Top Milan Mafia chieftain Don Vito (another "Thunderball" alumnus Adolfo Celi) wants his henchmen to capture Luca before the Americans can collar him. Writer & director Di Leo puts his hero through the ringer. Poor Luca watches in shock as his estranged wife Lucia (Sylva Koscina of "Hornet's Nest") and their daughter are run over by a madman in a mini-van. The grief-stricken but revengeful Luca chases the fiend down and leaps onto the front of the mini-van. Di Leo pay-offs two scenes that foreshadow Luca's use of head butting his opponents and a telephone, and Luca head butts his way through the driver's windshield and into the driver's seat. The showdown in a junk car lot is just as terrific. Look for lots of nudity, too. Don Vito's gunsels get their hands on one of Luca's squeezes and try to tear off her nipples during a nasty interrogation scene. Neither Koscina nor Paluzzi are used as anything but sex objects. Interestingly, Koscina and Paluzzi are struck and killed by cars. Fans of raw-edged Italian crime dramas will enjoy this opus.
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10/10
Great gritty cheese
Randall Phillip10 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The other two comments I've seen here are completely accurate. I only want to implore you to see this some more. So far, I've yet to see Henry Silva in a better role. His role in the more recent Ghost Dog was super, but here he is even better. He's great in this as a wild, tough, and sleazy hit-man. The way he skulks around like a bad asp is totally cool. This movie also boasts some righteous potty mouth dialog, worthy of a Sopranos episode. The only possible drawback to this movie is the dated special effects (of people punching each other or getting shot) that come off as being pretty silly at times- but honestly, the pluses far outweigh the minuses. This is right up there with Street Law as a classic of 70's Italian-made violence. See it!
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9/10
Excellent Italian action/drama.
HumanoidOfFlesh4 February 2003
When a shipment of heroin disappears enroute from Milan to New York a small time pimp named Luca Canali(excellent Mario Adorf)is fingered by the mafia for execution.There is only one problem...he is the wrong man!Unable to prove his innocence he is caught in a life and death struggle with the New York boss' hit men(Henry Silva and Woody Strode)."Hit Men"/"La Mala Ordina" is a typical Italian crime/drama with plenty of violence and sleaze.The acting is pretty good,the action almost never lets up and the ending is very exciting.Highly recommended if you are a fan of Italian cult cinema.
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The spaghetti-Western CHARLEY VARRICK?
matt-20125 July 1999
Now released under the absurdly named Mack Video as the absurdly named BLACK KINGPIN, LA MALA ORDINA, once known as MANHUNT, shows the Italian seventies policier director Fernando DiLeo in peak form. The Italian cops-mob-and-corruption movies often had a neorealist tincture, not far from such British cousins as GET CARTER or THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY. (The best in this vein is the dark, harrowing VIOLENT NAPLES.) But some of them were as ripe and over-the-top as concurrent works of Italian horror; and this saga of a small-town pimp pursued, God knows why, by Mr. Big and two Vincent-and-Jules-looking U.S.-made button men, looks like the product of some torrid motel-room coitus between Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. The faces are sweaty, the beatings (to evoke Roger Ebert's memorable phrase) suggest the sound of ping-pong paddles smacking naugahyde sofas--the only thing that's missing is the groan of an Ennio Morricone score. An evening of Shane Black quips it ain't, but ninety minutes of top-shelf hardboiled groove it is.
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