THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (Umberto Lenzi, 1977) **1/2
This is one of the better poliziotteschi I've seen - written by Lenzi with two other Euro-Cult stalwarts, Ernesto Gastaldi and Dardano Sacchetti - and also, perhaps, the quintessential Maurizio Merli film (not that this, in itself, is a guarantee of quality!).
From the title, one presumes that this was intended to be THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) of crime films - although, here, the shifty alliance is made between two baddies (Tomas Milian - dubbed "The Chinaman", for some reason a favorite nickname in films from this subgenre! - and John Saxon). Again, having just watched COP IN BLUE JEANS (1976) the previous day, I couldn't help noticing just how many of these films open with a robbery sequence; likewise, the leading man's girlfriend generally emanates from the wrong side of the tracks and is victimized for aiding our hero during the course of the film!
As is to be expected, the film's pace never lets up by providing a steady quota of highly proficient action scenes - culminating in a heist committed at one of Saxon's offices by Milian's thugs(!) and which also involves Merli and "The Professor", an elderly pint-sized expert in gadgetry, in the elaborate diffusion of the building's security system. Still, characterization is not entirely neglected: Merli is obsessed with catching Milian (even if the two only come face to face at the climax) and, feigning his own death, works undercover to this end but remains in contact with his chief; Milian is a small-time hood with ambitions of taking over the territory of American mobster Saxon; the latter, then, is the typical gangster - wealthy, ruthless (with a penchant of leaving traitors at the mercy of his enormous hounds!) and apparently omnipotent. The scenes in which the villainous duo clash - each with his own agenda which sees no place in the scheme of things for the other! - constitute some of the film's highlights; Franco Micalizzi's score is also notable.
Even if the film's in no way a spoof as COP IN BLUE JEANS had been, its script features a comparable surfeit of hard-boiled dialogue which is so over-the-top as to be quite funny - extending even to the notes of condolences passed on amongst the criminals as a means of heralding someone's death sentence!
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