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One of the finest Euro crime movies, without a doubt
Ever been to Naples? It's like a sprawling metropolitan city, only someone's decided to condense that sprawling city into a very small space, then add loads of markets and alleyways, then add loads of mopeds and cars, then add loads of people screaming in each other's faces at top volume. Naples is total bedlam from the moment you emerge from the train station. It really does chew you up and spit you out. I love the place, and would return there in a second, but will not argue with the opinion that it is, to be honest, an absolute hole.
Take it from me: I relished any time I spent there, but it does have an overcrowded, hyperactive atmosphere to the place. This seems to have infected the makers of Violent Naples, because nary have I seen such a Euro-crime movie that has so many story lines, or a pace that moves at 100mph....
Maurizio Merli is Inspector Berti - who has arrived from Rome on an assignment to another Italian city (he was hoping for something more exotic, but Naples is Italy's whipping boy so he regrets going there), and before you know it, he's getting death threats and is already on the case of some jewel thieves, and some rapists, and, to be honest, a trail leading to the boss of all bosses, Mr something or other (the film is so fast paced I didn't have time to catch his name - The Commandante - That's it!) Merli bothers himself at first with the rapists, the protection racket, and the jewel thief, plus an armed robber who manages to establish an alibi in sequences that had even my jaded wife's jaw dropping in awe at the actual lack of safety towards the actors or indeed the public...
Merli works himself up the line, exposing undercover police agents (none of whom receive a happy ending), wasting the rapists (one gets impaled on a fence, right through the jaw), and generally hassling John Saxon, a sleazy businessman who seems to have made a general series of mistakes leading to his heading into hiding...
Most folks, I'd guess, are introduced to Umerbto Lenzi through either his cannibal films (Cannibal Ferox, Eaten Alive), or his zombie efforts (Nightmare City) or for his late-eighties crap-fests (House of Lost Souls, Nightmare Beach), but I can say, without a doubt, that this guy was an expert in action film. He does not waste a minute of this film, even injecting a bit of pathos in the end as some sort of statement regarding the youth's arrogance in the face of corruption, or something. Look - If Tarantino were to re-make this classic, it would take him about nine hours.
Violent Naples is well up there in terms of greatness, in a genre the Italians rarely got wrong, and gets my highest recommendation. It's a sheer classic from start to finish.
Actually, I'm gonna mention how violent this film actually is, because at some points I had to say "For feck's sake!" at the TV screen. At first this happened when one of the rapists impaled his face on a fence, but when an armed robber pushes a woman's head out of a window in order for her face to be struck over and over again with a passing tram, my jaw hit the floor. Not to mention the guy used in a bowling alley or the ironic crippling of a kid, and you've got something mental here. It still doesn't manage to be as gory as Contraband, but it's sure up there.
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