A psychotic small-time criminal realizes that the everyday robberies, rapes and murders he commits aren't making him all that much money, so he figures to hit the "big time" by kidnapping the daughter of a rich man.
An Italian official's wife is kidnapped, and the kidnappers demand that a notorious prisoner be released in order for the man to get his wife back. He gets the man released--but then ... See full summary »
Carlo Antonelli, an engineer from Genoa, gets mugged and decides to take justice into his own hands. At first the muggers seem to get the upper hand, but then he's helped by Tommy, a young robber who takes his side.
A biker's brother is killed while investigating the kidnapping of a young boy, the byproduct of a war between two crime families. The biker vows to get revenge by finding the kidnapped boy and destroying the two families.
Luigi Maietto (Chinaman) escapes from prison he then orders two henchman to murder the inspector whose testimonal led to his being jailed. Inspector Tanzi is left for dead but lives. The ... See full summary »
A detective sick and tired of the rampant crime and violence in his city, and constantly at odds with his superiors, is finally kicked out of the department for a "questionable" shooting of... See full summary »
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 ... See full summary »
Though undeniably enjoyable, the popular poliziottesco subgenre - which proliferated in Italy throughout the 1970s - is also frustrating because one can never tell the quality of a specific title until one has watched it himself (this is mainly due to the fact that this type of film has been largely dismissed by the critics, while at the same time turned into a cult by fans): the thing is that a handful of titles definitely merit a critical re-appraisal, while many others are overrated by the aficionados. Personally, during the last few years, I've sampled films which fall in both these categories - but, thankfully, EMERGENCY SQUAD turned out to be one of the best poliziotteschi out there.
Having just watched ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH (1976), whose narrative was all over the place, it's easy to see how EMERGENCY SQUAD benefits from having a tight, compelling plot line. Besides, I tend to find star Tomas Milian more interesting when playing an anti-hero (as here or in his better Spaghetti Westerns) than an out-and-out villain. The film is clearly inspired by both DIRTY HARRY (1971) - the taciturn, iconoclastic cop hero with a dead spouse - and THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971) - the desire for revenge has turned Milian's pursuit of gang boss Gastone Moschin (who, like Fernando Rey in that movie, also hails from Marseilles) into an obsession; curiously enough, the dock finale of this film anticipates the one in FRENCH CONNECTION II ! Moschin (terrific as the anti-hero hood in MILANO CALIBRO 9 ) is a credible villain here, also because the script has atypically made him a victim of tuberculosis.
The supporting cast is led by Stefania Casini, who has fun with her role as a ditzy gangster's moll but isn't really given a lot to do: the actress' above-the-title billing certainly suggests that her character will be more central to the main plot and that, perhaps, she'll become involved with Milian at some point - but they only get to share one scene at the very end! Also featured, among others, are Mario Carotenuto (as Milian's elderly sidekick and conscience) and Ray Lovelock (as one of Moschin's lackeys, though he exits the proceedings rather quickly in one of the film's best scenes).
Director/co-writer Massi's background as a cinematographer is evident in the film's stylish look (even if there's an over-abundance of zoom shots), and equally notable is the inventive editing technique adopted throughout (which shows a definite influence from modern American films
the overlapping of shots from successive scenes before a full
transition being borrowed from EASY RIDER , the juxtaposition in slo-mo of Moschin's death with that of Milian's wife at the climax from the work of Sam Peckinpah). Regular genre composer Stelvio Cipriani contributes an excellent and eclectic score, providing several variations on the catchy main theme throughout.
The plot, meanwhile, shows the gang cleverly take up various disguises to accomplish their criminal schemes (dressing up as undertakers, members of a film crew and priests during the course of the film); interestingly, the scene in which they hold a family hostage will be reprised in Milian's subsequent and better-known effort in the genre, ALMOST HUMAN (1974) - where he actually plays the psychotic leader of a gang of crooks. Also, the vulgar humor associated with the genre only makes itself felt in the scenes taking place on the set of an erotic movie and, later, in a hippie commune; in fact, the film's tone is generally quite serious - but this doesn't mean that the hard-boiled dialogue, which so characterizes the poliziotteschi, has been downplayed (thus raising the occasional chuckle, especially among those fluent in Italian).
I watched this via a recording off Italian TV but as the reception wasn't perfect - not to mention the fact that I was surprisingly impressed by the film - I'll have to pick up No Shame's reportedly solid R1 DVD release somewhere down the line...
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