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Tony, a mob loan collector, is dissatisfied with his station in life. Though he dreams of one day being rich, he is stuck with the dead-end job of beating up borrowers who fall behind in their payments. After meeting up with Napoli, another mob enforcer who's just been fired from his job, the two hatch a plan. Together, they will con mob boss Manzari out of a fortune, after which they can retire and live in luxury. Manzari, however, is not about to let them go so easily. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Could have been a little better, but respectable on the whole
Rulers of the City does have a lot going for it. It does fall short of being great, and Fernando Di Leo and Jack Palance have done better in their respective careers, but this is not even close to being career-worsts for either and is a very respectable film overall.
The locations are splendid, and the gritty roughness of the photography and clever (without being too much or too dizzying) camera angles capture it more than ideally. There is also a dynamite score, exhilarating action scenes (the final shootout being the prime example) and mostly above-decent direction, if in need of more tension in places. The script is tight and more light-hearted than Di Leo's Milieu trilogy, but it was light-heartedness and witty humour that didn't feel too misplaced, and the story is at least engrossing and swiftly paced on the most part.
Casting-wise, Rulers of the City is very much a mixed bag, with the best performances being from a sinister Jack Palance (though he was deserving of more screen time) and a lively and lots-of-fun, without being too clownish, Vittorio Napoli as the film's most colourful character. Harry Baer has some charming moments too and Giselda Hahn brings a little heart. Al Clivar however does show his limitations as an actor in a somewhat one-note performance and Edmund Perdum is rather stiff in an underwritten role.
Aside from a slow-motion dream-like opening sequence, that was quite striking if perhaps not necessary, Rulers of the City does take too long to get going and the story only really comes to life once Palance appears. The film was in need of more tension and suspense, and stronger writing for the villains (who were underutilised and never really developed, and this is including Palance's character) would have helped. The final shoot-out is great, but ends a little anti-climactically. And I do have to agree about the homo-erotic undertones and homosexuality hints being clumsily written and out of place, which did feel the film a bizarre feel at times.
Overall, respectable but could have been better. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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