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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.
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Fernando Di Leo
Of all the multi-talented Italian cult directors of the 60's and 70's, Fernando Di Leo was the one who pleased us with the best and most adrenalin-rushing crime thrillers. His most famous "Italian organized crime" trilogy (existing of "Caliber 9", "Manhunt" and "The Boss") is downright brilliant, but Di Leo also made a number of flicks that are a lot less acclaimed but at least equally terrific and revolutionary. This "Kidnap Syndicate" is arguably his biggest hidden gem and I'm enormously grateful to the good people over at the Nocturno label for releasing the film in a splendid DVD-format. Cult collectors all around the world: if you come across ANY movie released by this label, never hesitate for one second to pick up a copy!!
"Kidnap Syndicate" is a lot less turbulent and 'in-your-face' explosive than the average Italian crime flick (usually revolving on rough unorthodox coppers chasing relentless criminals), but there's a strong focus on character drawing and story elaboration. Colella is a hard working but struggling mechanic who solely raises his son Fabrizio ever since the wife passed away. The boy is friends with Antonio, son of the extremely rich but incredibly repugnant businessman Filippini. When criminals kidnap Antonio in front of school, the brave Fabrizio tries to prevent this and the nervous kidnappers pull him into the car as well. They demand a huge ransom for the boys, but the pigheaded Filippini refuses to give in to criminals and put the lives of the boys at stake, whilst Colella and even the police commissioner can't do anything. The kidnappers eventually prove their seriousness, and the statement is obviously made via the "poor" child. Colella goes after them, but soon stumbles upon a very complex and well-protected network. The first half is, as to be expected, very talkative and with a vast emphasis on melodrama. There are some truly powerful sequences, most notably when practically the entire cast of characters literally begs Filippini (magnificent, though extremely ungrateful role of the brilliant James Mason) to stop playing with the lives of innocent children and just pay the damn ransom. The second half offers some bona fide Italian hard- boiled action, with wild car chases and grim, graphically shown executions. It's terrific how Colella purchases his targets, but also simultaneously humiliates and provokes them. His character is probably the vigilante/avenger that you sympathize with the most. The climax could have been a bit better and more imaginative, according to me at least, and I'm missing a more memorable soundtrack. Other than those minor remarks, "Kidnap Syndicate" is a truly exhilarating Italian cult film that I'm glad and proud to have seen.
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