|Index||6 reviews in total|
This is definitely one of the best crime movies ever made, if not THE
best... Cassinelli stars as a cop who teams up with a drug dealer (Tomas
Milian) and three scummy thieves to save a kidnapped girl from slimey
villain Henry Silva and his gang... well actually it's more about finally
There's plenty of great action scenes, walk-on cameos by a large number of the Italian "regulars" like Luciano Rossi, Tom Felleghy, Giovanni Cianfriglia, and Riccardo Petrazzi... the same bunch who show up regularly in EVERY crime movie. What's best about this one is that while it has a good share of random crimes and killings (Italy had to be the least-safe place to live in the 70's), they all actually blend together into the greater story. The ending is one of the best in the genre and certainly surprising. What really gets me coming back to watch this one again and again is the abundance of really great, quotable, almost Tarantino-eque dialog. The best such quotes come from an understandably annoyed Silva as he tries to run a fairly incompetent kidnap syndicate, containing their fair share of expletives. Tomas Milian also has quite a few good lines as essentially the comic relief, but in the end he ends up being a pretty likable character even as he steals the good guy's wallet and jumps on a train.
Topping that, this film has unusually bright and nicely-framed photography from Argento veteran cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller, as well as some very hummable music by the relatively unknown Bruno Canfora. The casting decisions are uniformally excellent; Cassinelli is wooden but convincing as the hard-nose cop, Biagio Pelligra, Roberto Undari, and Giuseppe Castellano are great as the trio of thugs unknowingly aiding the good guys, and Tomas Milian shines as "Garbage Can" Monezza.
Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest of Lenzi's crime films to find, especially here in the states. Luckily it was released in Holland in English, though not in the full 'scope. Let's pray that DVD companies start picking these crime films up, and moreover... that this is one of them.
Umberto Lenzi, for my money, is the king of the Polizi films and while
Free Hand for a Tough Cop might not be the best known of his genre
films, or as good as the likes of The Cynic, The Rat and the Fist or
Almost Human, is still a damn fine piece of cinema and is sure to
please anyone with a mind to see it. This film is different from the
other Polizi films I've seen from Lenzi as the urban landscape that
usually makes up the setting for this sort of film has been thrown out
in favour of a more rural one. This sets the film apart from most of
the rest genre, and it also gives it a feel that borders on Spaghetti
western, which is nice. The plot is well worked and features a police
officer who teams up with a dirty criminal known to friends and
otherwise as 'Garbage Can'. They've been put together to find a girl
being held for ransom by vicious gangster Brescianelli. They face a
race against time as the girl has kidney problems, and there's also a
secondary objective, which takes the form of taking down the gangster
who is hoping to gain ransom from holding her.
Free Hand for a Tough Cop benefits from a great musical score, which is amazingly catchy and also provides a nice backdrop for the movie. The film features all the shootouts and car chases that you would expect from this sort of film, and there's also a fair share of humour, which actually bodes quite well with the characters and plot line. Lenzi's direction is solid as always, and he pulls great performances out of his esteemed cast. The lead role, as you would expect, goes to Thomas Milian, who delivers a different sort of performance to the ones seen in most of Lenzi's crime films. He gets great backup from Claudio Cassinelli and Henry Silva, as well as a number of other memorable Italian crime flick faces. The characters are actually very well designed considering what you would expect from this sort of film, and that is another aspect that makes Free Hand for a Tough Cop better than your average Polizi flick. The conclusion to the story isn't difficult to guess, but Lenzi provides a nice bit of humour at the end that leaves the audience with a nice taste in their mouth.
Starting with a mildly amusing postmodern joke the movie opening as a western which is actually screened in a penitentiary , Umberto Lenzi's fourth Eurocrime collaboration with jack of all trades Tomás Milián is already running out of ideas, verve and steam after the credits. While Lenzi's previous efforts (Roma a mano armata, and especially the completely depraved Almost Human) show him on top of the poliziotteschi game, outsmarting each and every other Italian director of the genre with his stunningly fiendish combinations of cynicism, merciless action and ultra-tolchocks, Il trucido e lo sbirro falls victim not only to its half-price production, but also to the stodgy run-of-the-mill story-line cop & thugs cooperate to rescue a kidnapped kiddie girl that wouldn't even be accepted by Kanal Ukrayina nowadays, the subprime soundtrack by a certain Bruno Canfora, and foremost the exceptionally unfunny "comic relief" spirit that began to wrecking-ball Italian crime cinema the same year concurrently with the first installment of the dumb-and-dumber Nico Giraldi cop series, also with Milián in the lead. If you want to know why US guest star Henry Silva's screen time lasts only about two-and-a-half minutes, take another look at Milián's beauty treatment. Those sixteen tons of eyeliner certainly did cost a whole lotta dough.
It was shown in 2004 on Canal + TV channel in beautiful 2.35 CinemaScope and original Italian language with French subtitles. You can met not only Henry Silva (good as usual) and Thomas Milian (amazing part !) but also Claudio Cassinneli as Police inspector Sarti (cf. : LA POLIZIA A LE MANI LEGATE) and Nicoletta Machiavelli who stars "capo" of the abductor's girlfriend. Charming Nicoletta was directely linked with the Renaissance political philosopher Nicola Machiavelli ("The Prince", "Studies on Titus Livius", etc.) and was at a time herself thought to have been adbucted after having diseappeared for more than week from her San Lazzaro Castle near Bolognia where she lived near her father Nicolo Machiavelli. As usual, the great Dardano Sachetti has written a script full of violence with a evident touch of political and social concern : painting of the underworld is sharp, without any concession to good taste, full of dark humor and full of ultra-violence. Director of photography Luigi Kuveiller is allright as usual and the car chases are, as always with the good "poliziotti" movies - and it is the case, here ! - quite impressive ones. As usual also, great realism in the choice of guns as a reflect of the sociology of guns in Italy in 1976 among both police and thugs : reglementary submachine-gun Beretta M12 chambered in 9mm Parabellum, Semi-auto pistol Walther P-38 chambered in 9mm Parabellum, Semi-auto pistol Beretta M1951 chambered in 9mm Parabellum, etc. To be pointed out : the titles themselves at the beginning of the movie make the viewer thinks that he is looking at the wrong movie : you see a western (probably an italian one !) but camera zooms back to reveal that we are in a screening room of... a prison ! French exploitation title at the time of release in French Theaters : "LE TRUAND SORT DE SA PLANQUE".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Another top-notch "polizia" offering from Umberto Lenzi, the director
I'm gradually gaining more and more respect for after watching the
different genres movies he made. FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP is
everything you could want an Italo crime film to be - fast-paced, full
of furious scenes of action, with plenty of violence, snappy dialogue,
and quality performances from seasoned genre performers. The central
plot conceit - that the good guys must rescue the kidnapped girl who
only has a week to live - leads to lots of tense situations, double
crosses, and twists in characters, as some become allies and others
enemies. The film has a large cast and many interconnected characters
which give it a realistic edge as Lenzi creates a corrupt and violent
world for his characters to live in - take for example the two minor
robbers who hit people with bricks before they steal from the tills!
The action sequences are as great as always, with big guys letting loose with machine guns and innocent bystanders always getting caught up in the bloodshed. There are also some brief but cool car chases in which other road vehicles are literally smashed out of the way and moments of extreme violence that the genre is famous for. The casting is great, every actor here is perfect for his particular character, with lots of familiar faces for genre buffs. Taking the lead is Claudio Cassinelli (ISLAND OF THE MUTATIONS) who is always undeniably wooden, but to be fair he's not THAT bad here and could have been a lot worse - at least he's a believable policeman. Tomas Milian has great fun as the comic relief character "Garbage Can", but still proves to be instrumental in tracking down Brescianelli. Henry Silva is one of the best "bad guy" actors in recent history and puts in another commendably icy performance here and proves himself a force to be reckoned with.
Another nice touch is that Lenzi litters his film with references to Italian cinema. Posters for the likes of SALON KITTY dot the walls and the film even opens with lead characters watching a spaghetti western. Just a small but rewarding touch for fans of Italian cinema. FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP has all the gritty violence and action that a genre fan could want, and on top of that its bolstered by a strong story which puts its "immiment deadline" plot device to good use.
The opening sequence already demonstrates that director Umberto Lenzi
disposes of a playful and curious sense of humor. When the film starts,
you're most likely to grab the DVD-box again to reassure you're
watching the right movie, as it opens with a typical Spaghetti Western
scene showing a gang of Cowboys riding on their horses and invading a
little village. Is this a Western? The pictures and the synopsis
displayed on the DVD-box surely don't look or sound like this would be
a Western, but you never know with director Umberto Lenzi and lead star
Tomas Milian, right? The doubtfulness vanishes right away after the
credits, and "Free Hand for the Tough Cop" naturally is a
crime-thriller (or "Poliziotteschi", if you wish), but the misleading
intro nevertheless proves that Lenzi is an extremely gifted filmmaker
who immediately captures your full attention and interest. "Free Hand
for the Tough Cop" is another wildly exiting, gritty and remarkably
plotted 70's Euro-Cult cinema highlight, with a structure that is
delightfully convoluted, wicked dialogs & action situations that rank
amongst Italy's finest! Personally, I would even state this film is as
good as on par with the quality levels of Lenzi's most famous
crime-thrillers, like "Almost Human" and "Violent Naples", but it's not
as easily available as those two and therefore still a little
under-appreciated. With the revival of European cult cinema lately,
this film is destined to be released in a fancy DVD-edition any time
soon, and I'm sure it'll get many new fans from that moment on. For
those who can't wait for an English and/or internationally released
version; the film is already available on a French label called Neo
Publishing. The picture quality and sound are awesome, and the disc
contains some fascinating extras, but you have to able to understand
either the French or the Italian language.
The indescribably charismatic and talented Tomas Milian stars as a witty criminal Sergio Marazzi, but he's widely known by his friends and enemies under the nickname "Garbage Can". He's knocked unconscious and taken OUT of prison by the unorthodox detective Sarti, who requires Marazzi's criminal skills and experience to help his police investigation. The odd couple has to rescue a kidnapped young girl from the claws of Italy's most feared crime boss Brescianelli, and urgently, because the girl suffers from severe kidney problems and risks to die without regular medicine injections. Garbage Can manages to recruit three more wanted thugs and they begin their search for Brescianelli. Slight problem though, the crime lord recently underwent plastic surgery and nobody knows what his new face looks like. "Free Hand For the Tough Cop" actually contains LESS virulent shoot-outs and wild car chases than you'd expect, but their lack is widely compensated by wickedly intelligent dialogs and a continuously anarchistic atmosphere. Every single character that walks through the screen is genuinely fascinating and provided with a compelling background. Unlike Lenzi's other Poliziotteschi flicks, this movie isn't really set in the busy and crowded center of one of Italy's most prominent cities, but most of the action takes place in rural villages and deserted industrial factory buildings. Tomas Milian and Henry Silva are both brilliant in roles that are the opposite of their previous collaboration with Umberto Lenzi, namely "Almost Human". And if you're slightly familiar with Italian cult cinema, you'll definitely also recognize many other actors and actresses that (briefly) appear in this production, like Luciano Rossi, Claudio Cassinelli and Biagio Pelligra. The climax is excellent and very violent, the music is catchy and both the camera-work & editing are handled with a great deal of professionalism. This certainly isn't just another smutty and repulsive Lenzi quickie, but a solid and unforgettable Lenzi highlight!
|Ratings||External reviews||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|