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Fernando Di Leo
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When Milano police lieutenant Giorga's chief is murdered by an organized crime ring, he vows to avenge his boss's death. Going undercover to continue the chief's investigation, he plans to take over a pimping outfit and then proceed to beat up enough low-level thugs until the big guys in the crime ring take notice of him, letting him get close enough to uncover their secrets. Should this unorthodox method actually work, he still must take down the entire organization single-handed. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
Morally ambiguous and somewhat confused, but highly recommended Italian "poliziani"
After his mentor, the only cop who is both honest and "by-the-book" in this movie (and possibly any other Italian "poliziani"), is assassinated in the street, a rogue cop, who has been suspended for gunning down two surrendering suspects, goes undercover, mixing with prostitutes, pimps, and reckless, amateur bank robbers in an effort to crack the case; only to find that it involves both Red Brigade terrorists and corruption at the highest levels of Italian government. It is easy to write-off this and other Italian polizianis as cheap "rip-offs" of American films like "Dirty Harry" or "The French Connection". But this genre really resonated in Italy which was even more beset by rampant crime, high-level corruption, and would-be "revolutionaries" in 1970's than America was. And whereas American police thrillers got dumber, more simplistic, and sometimes downright fascist going into the Reagan era (i.e. "Make my day!", "Crime is a disease and he is the cure!"), the Italian films went off in a decidedly more morally ambiguous and often more cynical direction, which I personally find much more interesting. (It's perhaps understandable that America would later blunder into Iraq, convinced that they were the unambiguous "good guys" and weren't going to get any blood on their white cowboy hats, while the Europeans were generally much more wary and realistic).
This movie is pretty confused. It's pretty hard to believe that corrupt law enforcement officials would be connected to the radical Marxist Red Brigades and vice versa. It's also hard to separate the "rogue cop" here from the regular Italian police, who also shoot unarmed suspects and kill innocent hostages in reckless high-speed car chases. (One villain makes the mistake of trying to ally himself with hero, naturally assuming that anyone so violent and unconcerned the law or public safety would be a natural partner in corruption).Still it is more realistic and honest in many ways to admit that fighting violence with violence, even it doesn't outright corrupt, is very messy and will leave you with hands that are far from clean. "Dirty Harry" and "The French Connection" themselves were much more noirish and morally ambiguous than is acknowledged these days. But what this movie really reminded me of was the first Dirty Harry sequel "Magnum Force" where the troubled vigilante cop with some morals faces off against vigilante cops with no morals (and who also turn out to be very implausibly connected to his most liberal critics). Like that movie this poliziani is pretty confused, but, at the same time, all the more honest for it.
It's also well-made and very entertaining. It was directed by the great, and still underrated Italian director, Sergio Martino. It's currently only available on cheap DVD (part of "The Grindhouse Collection Volume 1") ported from a very messed-up videotape (the sound is atrocious). Still I would highly recommend it.
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