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Italian police thrillers were partly inspired by 70's American films like "Dirty Harry", "The French Connection", and "Serpico", so they have a kind of indirect film noir sensibility to them, but one updated to the gritty urban decay of the 1970's. They were also, of course, inspired by the Spaghetti Westerns, a popular Italian genre which they would essentially replace. The Spaghetti Westerns had taken the white-hatted American John Wayne type heroes and substituted much more morally ambiguous anti-heroes, often ruthless and violence prone and pursuing only their own self-interest. These kind of ambiguous anti-heroes carried on into the police thrillers, and that mixed with noir elements and the social turbulence of 70's led to a cynical, downbeat, and extremely morally ambiguous genre that was nevertheless entertaining as hell. The problem is though in the hands of hacks these films could very easily turn into the most trite right-wing fantasies imaginable.
Actor Maurizio Merlino was one of those hacks. Basically, he was Franco Nero with a fraction of the talent. Still, he was OK in some of the films he made with Umberto Lenzi and other relatively talented directors. Unfortunately, director Guiseppe Rossi was an even bigger hack, responsible for such nonsense as the dim-witted giallo "The Perfect Crime". As a result, this movie has no intelligence, no depth, and no irony (not even the over-the-top fascist excesses of something like Ruggiero Deodata's "Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man"). It's just the typical ho-hum story of a vigilante cop who defies his superiors and refuses to go "by the book" as he fights crime--in this case a dozen ruthless gangsters who have broken out of prison and are out to settle the score with everyone that put them there. This is the kind of thing Hollywood crapped out about a thousand times in the 80's, usually with Sylvester Stallone or some other meat-head in the lead role. There's not even a memorable villain like Thomas Milan or Henry Silva on hand.
On the plus side, the music is pretty good and visual style is serviceable. Silvia Dionisio turns up as Merlino's love interest and she has her usual highly gratuitous (but highly enjoyable) nude scenes. James Mason is also in this, and even though he is obviously slumming and his role is pretty perfunctory, an actor of his caliber can't help but add a little gravitas to the proceedings. Still,this is generally a weak entry into the Italian cop genre.
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