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Gruesome Crime Flick From The Godfather Of Gore
Witchfinder General 66629 August 2007
Although no highlight of the Italian Crime genre, Lucio Fulci's "Luca Il Contrabbandiere" aka "Contraband" is a rough, tough-minded and ultra-violent Gangster flick that certainly delivers, especially for a Fulci fan. Lucio Fulci is widely renowned as the 'Godfather Of Gore', and "Contraband" is a movie that is certainly not going to deprive him of this well-deserved reputation. Although the plot may not be as original as it was the case with many other of the (generally violent) Italian Crime Thrillers of the 70s and early 80s, "Contraband" scores in means of roughness, intransigence and gruesome, gory violence.

Luca Di Angelo (Fabio Testi) and many of his friends make a living as cigarette smugglers in Naples. After their refusal to deal with drugs instead of cigarettes, ruthless drug dealers, amongst them a sadistic gangster from Marseille start to target the cigarette smugglers' families. Luca, however, is not the kind of man who gives in to threats...

Fabio Testi, who had already worked with Lucio Fulci in "Four Of The Apocalypse" in 1975 (aside Tomas Milian and Lynne Frederick), delivers a good leading performance as Luca, and Marcel Bozzuffi is wonderfully evil in his role of the villain. I also found several of the supporting actors, such as Guido Alberti (who only has a very small role) very good. Some other supporting cast members deliver rather bad performances. The violence is pretty brutal and includes several very nasty scenes of torture and sexual violence. There are some scenes that don't really fit in, such as some cheesy looking and kitschy slow-mo sequences of horses at a racecourse, and the music is sometimes out of place, but all in all, the movie's qualities come up for its flaws. "Contraband" is certainly no highlight of Italian crime cinema, but a brutal and uncompromising flick that highly entertains. Fans of Lucio Fulci and Crime thrillers of the rough kind should be pleased.
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Ahh, sunny Napoli...with gore, guns & guts...
macabro35729 June 2003

Normally I don't comment on non-horror or mondo films but since Fulci directed it, and since there's enough gore splatter in here to finance a small horror film, I'm gonna put my two cents in.

Fabio Testi plays a Neapolitan cigarette smuggler who's territory is being muscled in on by the Margliese (Marcel Bozzuffi) who wants a clear way to smuggle heroin into Italy using Naples as an entry point.

One by one, Testi's comrades are being killed off in many different gruesome ways, including the backs of heads being blown off, a rotting cadaver thrown through a window, blood bags exploding in stomachs with intestines flying out, and a pretty female drug courier getting half her face burned off by one of the Margilese's henchman.

This has to be one of the goriest crime thrillers I have seen so far. Fulci pulls no stops here and the bad guys are truly gonna get what they deserve. The ending shootout in the street between the Margilese's men and the retired Camorra bosses is classic Fulci.

The Blue Underground DVD uses an excellent widescreen print that is only marred in a couple of places by bad splicing. The only extras that come with it are a couple of bios (Fulci and Testi) and an American trailer.

If you want to see violent crime thriller that doesn't pull any stops like the American ones do, then go see this one!

Recommended! 7 out of 10
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Intestines and Testi
Samoan Bob29 March 2003
Lucio Fulci's ultraviolent crime film is an enjoyable and unintentionally hilarious action flick with the requisite amount of gore one expects from a Fulci film. Fabio Testi (tee-hee!) plays a cigarette smuggler who gets entangled in a bunch of gang-land shootings. Melting corpses, burning skin, shot-open necks, repeatedly shot paper mache heads, shotgun blasted intestines (that seem to be made out of foam) ensue. In addition to that, there's a decent shootout or punch-up here and there. The highlight is some nerdy guy getting massive breasts shoved in his face. Well, at least for me.
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A vendetta of blood and guts.
mylimbo8 March 2008
Here's another one outside the horror genre for director Lucio Fulci. He crafts a brutally biting, if disjointed Italian crime melodrama that serves to make you squirm in it gratuitous acts of extremely depraved violence and sleaziness. Fulci definitely left his calling card on this one, with many unforgettably unflinching nasty moments (like an uncomfortable face-melting scene). The superfluous gore and mean-spirited nature is great, but a lack of any real tension-building does hurt it. The twisty story is frank and unspectacular even with its shifty chain of bleak events and the script is weakly penned (the unsuitable humour when included falling flat), but being broken up by its impulsively vivid action stunts (nice use of slow-motion too) and gorgeous Naples' backdrop, leaves quite a hypnotic imprint. Sergio Salvati's brashly sharp and tight camera-work, interlocks with Fulci's kinetic visual bursts and rounding it off nicely is composer Fabio Frizzi's ever-changing, saucy music score that doesn't lye down. Performances are workably tailored. There's a humanely chiselled and honest performance by Fabio Testi. Marcel Bozuffi makes for a great smarmy, calculating French Mafia Don trying to take over Testi's character's turf. Ivana Monti, Ferdinand Murolo, Saverio Marconi and Guido Alberti provide able support. Quite an edgy, blunt and vicious crime joint that basically gets it kicks off its effectively rousing, if scandalous violence than anything more.
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Viciously nasty and bloody Lucio Fulci's crime thriller.
HumanoidOfFlesh30 July 2009
"Contraband" is Lucio Fulci's sleazy and gloriously violent gangster flick that tells the story of how cigarette smuggler and gangster Luca Di Angelo played by Fabio Testi overcomes the threat of violent cocaine smugglers attempting to muscle in on his operation and overturning the existing order.Being a fan of Lucio Fulci's uncompromising gory mayhem I always wanted to see "Contraband",which is his mix of mafia and poliziotteschi genre.It's undoubtedly the goriest gangster film ever made with its scenes of rape,the brain blow-outs,burn victims and shotgun blasts to the throat.The film has some dull spots and lifeless sequences,the cast is mediocre,but if you are a fan of sadistic Italian gore "Contraband" certainly delivers.Still I prefer early 80's horror movies of maestro Fulci.7 out of 10.
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marquis de cinema3 November 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Luca il Contrabbandiere/The Smuggler(1980) is a very good Italian mafia flick that is overlooked by the gothic films of Lucio Fulci from that period. Its a transitional film that is the middle film between Zombie(1979) and The City of the Living Dead(1980). Its about a group of smugglers led by Fabio Testi who battles with drug dealers who want a piece of the action. The Smuggler(1980) is an anti Delitto film because the police do not take part in the violence. It was the only gangster flick in Fulci's resume.

The scene at an industrial limepit site has a dimension of horror. Not just a Godfather ripoff, The Smuggler is quite convincing at showing the brutal nature of the drug dealers. The movie at times becomes boring and slow moving. As good as the best of Fernando Di Leo and Umberto Lenzi. Its a shame that Fulci didn't do many more action films then this.

Fans of Lucio Fulci were turned off the this because the violence is played in a realistic enviroment instead of the fantasy format that many fans were accustom to. There are two scenes of violence that many people found repulsive. One, the torture of a female drug runner(in lingering detail no less) by way of burning from blowtouch. Two, the vicious rape and sodomy of Adele Di Angelo(tension builder). The murders of Perlante's sidekick and female companion has a suspenseful build up to it.

Fulci does a good job in portraying the violent nature of the characters. He directs the action of the picture with flair. Fulci appears as a gun toting assassin. The death of Perlante is one of the major pluses for the picture. The Smuggler(1980), I think is one of Lucio Fulci's top motion pictures.

Fabio Testi is good as the head smuggler, Luca Di Angelo. Very similar in plot to Four of the Apocalypse(1974). Deserves the attention of being released on Home Video by Anchor Bay. Some of the action resembles the style of "Heroic Bloodshed" films in Hong Kong during the mid 80's. Fabio Frizzi's score is both offbeat and weird.

The special effects are at times gruesomely realistic. The old members of the Mob spent much of the film sitting and watching Italian Westerns on television at home. Its only near the end that they decide to take on the French gangster. The ending is the weakest part of the film. The murder of Mickey Di Angelo is done wonderfully with different camera shots.

A grotesque mise en scene includes a man who loses his stomach to a shotgun blast. Sergio Salvati's camera gives the film a stylized appearence. One of The Smuggler's main strength is the smooth editing. Contains almost the same flaws that made the Hong Kong flicks, Rich & Famous + Tragic Hero very good but inconsistent films. Good as part of a triple bill with Massacre Time(1965) and Four of the Apocalypse(1974).
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Sleazy crime thriller by Lucio Fulci
Camera Obscura11 October 2006
CONTRABAND (Lucio Fulci - Italy 1980).

It's great to see all the familiar faces from the heydays of European bad cinema together again. Bad film-making without the slightest wit or irony. Those were the days... They all lined up for this very sleazy and sadistic "Poliziottesco" by Lucio Fulci, his only foray into the crime genre, and I'm glad it was the only one he made. Fabio Testi is the focal point as Luca Di Angelo, an idealistic family man and cigarette smuggler in this tale of mob warfare in economically depressed Naples. When a rival gang massacres his brother and abducts his wife, Luca goes berserk and triggers an all-out mob war, with virtually every Don in town getting involved.

Testi is OK in the lead and Marcel Bozzufi (THE FRENCH CONNECTION) makes quite an impact as "The Margliese", a Frenchman who tries to muscle his way into the Neapolitan crime world. He really is the most sadistic and ruthless crime figure you'll ever see. I figure this film would satisfy most Fulci fans. Torture, rape, bare flesh, endless shoot-outs and plenty of sleaze and violence make this slightly entertaining. I could sit through this because there's quite a lot of action and it's never really dull, but otherwise beware. This film has some of the most atrocious English dubbing I know , real bad, only made worse by the already howlingly awful dialog and some wooden acting. What about that club scene? I think they took some dialog from a totally different movie there (Blue Underground's release didn't include an Italian audiotrack), it didn't make sense whatsoever. Even by grade-Z poliziotteschi standards, this was pretty mystifying.

The film also features a soundtrack with some Italian pseudo-rock 1980 style. I can't really describe it, but it was annoying and totally inappropriate for the scenes. Fulci does show some of his earlier cinematic flair in some (especially interior) scenes, but then ruins it all in the next with bad lighting and bad editing, like showing somebody's head blown off, before the actual shot is being fired. In an earlier comment someone remarked the gore was very realistic. Well, what can I say? If you think blood looks like strawberry juice, I guess it does.

Camera Obscura --- 4/10
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The Maestro does it Again!!!
Jerry-932 August 1999
Fulci's movies tend to be a mixed: they're either terribly good or terribly bad. This one is terribly good. The plot is simple: Testi plays Luca, a cigarette smuggler who is reluctant to go into business with a powerful gangster. When Luca refuses, the gangster gets mad, and makes Luca's life a Hell, namely by killing his friends and abducting his wife.

Like all Fulci movies, this one is pretty slow going some of the time, but wait til the gang war gets started!!! We got heads blowing off, faces burned off, throats and stomachs blown out, and all the nudity you could ever ask for. Even has a happy ending (or what passes for a happy ending in these films). Fans of the crime genre will not be disappointed.
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On a blood and guts level, the film satisfies
fertilecelluloid14 December 2005
On a blood and guts level, Fucli's "Contraband" fires up. The squib hits are extreme, giant chunks of flesh are shot out of necks, bad guys die in glorious slomo, and one woman has has face melted for attempting to sell a drug dealer cut coke.

On another level, the film is ponderous, the plot is predictable, and the performances are anemic. Fabio Testi, who was solid in "Revolver", plays a very weak character here and I didn't buy his campaign to wage revenge one little bit.

The action has a muscular quality to it and Fulci makes the most of his access to half a dozen boats. A funeral on the boats is a poetic touch, too. The film is not a bad one, but it misses being great because the script is feeble. You can spot the bad guy a mile off and the dubbing, as usual, is terrible.

The Fabio Frizzi score is memorable but used inappropriately and too often.

One of the best stunt sequences involves an assassinated man rolling down an embankment. There is a worthwhile killing at a racetrack involving a gun shoved a throat.

"Contraband" is a fast-forward job for viewers, and on that level, it offers some satisfaction.
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Lucio Fulci's extremely brutal, gritty and violent crime Mafia action flick
Woodyanders30 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Easygoing Naples cigarette contraband smuggler Luca Di Angelo (a solid performance by the handsome and charismatic Fabio Testi) ain't having an easy time of it: his beautiful, but fed-up wife (the luscious Ivana Monti) can't stand his law-breaking lifestyle, the zealous local police are closing in for an arrest, and ruthless narcotics baron the Marsiguese (a splendidly hateful'n'heinous villainous turn by Marcel Bozzufi of "The French Connection") wants Luca and his fellow smugglers to start peddling hard drugs. Things go from bad to worse after Luca's brother gets rubbed out, leading to an all-out ferocious turf war in which various criminals gets bumped off in assorted grisly ways.

Lucio Fulci compensates for the occasionally poky pacing, a rather tedious opening third and the grinding predictability of the standard crime/action thriller scenario by pouring on the excessively gory and gruesome graphic carnage with his customary rough and lingering aplomb: One guy gets tossed into a pit of sulfuric acid, another dude has his brains blown out, a lovely lady courier has her face viciously disfigured with a Bunsen burner, yet another fellow has his stomach blasted wide open, and countless crooks bleed several pints worth of blood when they get filled full of bullets. In a particularly nasty scene Luca is forced to helplessly listen over the phone as the Marsiguese's brutish goons savagely rape and defile his screaming'n'squirming abducted wife. It's these foul, harsh, exceedingly gritty and unflinchingly nihilistic touches that distinguish this hard-hitting feature and lift it well out of the rut of your run-of-the-mill generic crime opus. Topped off with a rousing climax and a perfectly bleak bummer ending (Luca gets his revenge, but it comes at a horrible and substantial personal price), this no-holds-barred cruel and wicked film rates as one of Fulci's most unjustly neglected and underrated movies.
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I liked "Revolver" better
movieman_kev26 September 2005
Fabio Testi ("What Have They Done to Solange?" and "Revolver") is Luca, a cigarette smuggler who is part of a deal that got botched. When his brother gets killed, Luca and other fellow smugglers are being killed in overly violent ways by a rival smuggler from France, known simply as the Marsigliese (the late Marcel Bozzuffi of "Countdown" and "The French Connection"), naturally he wants some good old fashion revenge. Lucio Fulci ultra-violent touch is here, the misogyny is here, but it all feels too long, the story seems stretched out somehow. It's still watchable, don't get me wrong. Just not top tier Fulci.

Eye Candy: Cintia Lodetti shows all; Ivana Monti gets topless; Ofelia Meyer shows slight bush

My Grade: B-

DVD Extras: Talent Bios; and Theatrical Trailer
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Fulci branches out to bullet gore
Dr. Gore17 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers

I had wanted to see this one for some time. Fulci. Mafia. Gore. The pieces were there. I've enjoyed most of Fulci's horror flicks so I thought I would give this one a try.

Gangsters are feuding in Naples. The main character Luca goes to war against a rival Mafia gang. Luca is a gentle sort who only wants to smuggle cigarettes. The new gang wants to use Luca to smuggle drugs. They reach an impasse in the negotiations. Soon they will settle their differences with an obscene amount of bullets. Mangled corpses start piling up.

As a Mafia movie, it was OK. It takes about 20-25 minutes to get to the action. Soon gangsters are causing each other pain. This is where Fulci shines. "Contraband" gives him the chance to go for some serious bullet gore. Blood is spraying. There is one effect where a guy gets shot in the stomach with a shotgun and his belly opens up like a giant red piñata. It's his birthday! There were plenty of other nasty bullet shots too. Fulci also delivers three or four disfigured corpses. Oh, and two torture scenes, one involving a Bunsen burner and lots of seared flesh.

What I'm saying is, "Contraband" has its points. There is enough gore here to make it interesting. I can't say I was on the edge of my seat with suspense, but I did enjoy the Mafia blood and guts.
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Scarecrow-8822 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Lucio Fulci's lone foray into the Euro-crime genre stars Fabio Testi as Luca Di Angelo, the brother of a slain mobster who must somehow survive the mafioso takeover of the sadistic Marsigliese(Marcel Bozzuffi)in Naples, Italy, also vowing revenge against him and his sleazy gun-toting henchman. The Marsigliese is targeting all the mob gangs who run illegal smuggling operations, wishing to take over the whole city as chief crime-lord, but the thorn in his side is Luca, who is willing to do whatever it takes to avenge his brother's murder(..which, adding to the agony, happened not far from him).

My very first Poliziotteschi was entertaining for it's graphic blood-letting and enthusiastic staging of gangsters and hoods being killed/beaten in ultra-violent ways(..I do wonder if the slow motion action set-pieces, where characters fall from great heights or through windows, was inspired by Bloody Sam). Bodies riddled by bullets, with lots of blood squibs. A woman's face is viciously scorched. Brains shot out the back of a mobster's skull. A spike stabbed into a hood's chest as blood slowly leaks out. A throat is blown apart. Even though Fulci wasn't directing a horror flick, he could still serve up the blood shed unrestrained within a serviceable plot dealing with a criminal world wrought with violence and corruption.

The cast and story are quite familiar to what you often associate with mafioso tales featuring betrayal, revenge, & violent methods at securing power, prestige, and wealth. A shared empire is desired by a mafioso boss with a grand scheme to run coke through Naples without the trouble of other mobs dealing in lesser "risky" criminal ventures. Interesting enough, we are taken right into the criminal underworld as investigators attempt to solve the string of murders occurring across the city. But, we see how crime doesn't always pay and if you are immersed in this culture, as Luca is(..pulled into assisting a smuggling empire with his slain brother and other capos), there's a possibility that you endanger those you love. In CONTRABAND, Luca's wife is kidnapped, badly beaten, and anally raped as the Marsigliese demands a partnership('s all a set-up to finish off the last, remaining capo left in the city)in his drug-running operation. Nifty climactic showdown with old retired dons helping out Luca against Marsigliese and his thugs with even Fulci getting to fire a machine gun! Composer Fabio Frizzi provides a rather disco-funkadelic type of score coexisting within a brutal crime story. Saverio Marconi has a memorable role as a trusted mobster, Luigi Perlante, who is in cahoots with the Marsigliese, Ajita Wilson(Macumba sexual)has a minor role as part of Luigi's entourage, and Romano Puppo is the Marsigliese's cold-blooded trigger man. Venantino Venantini is Captain Tarantino and Fabrizio Jovine is the Chief of Police, trying to end the smuggling operations plaguing their economy-deprived city. The film's bread-n-butter are the shoot-outs and assassinations, with Fulci trying to cover up the story's inadequacies with lots of action. The film does suffer some pacing issues with an on-going gag involving Guido Alberti, as the powerful Don Morrone, watching television, with only an appetite for spaghetti westerns. Photographed by the great Sergio Salvati, Fulci's long time cinematographer(..and a staple for Charles Band productions as well). Special effects from Germano Natali, a long time collaborator with Fulci and Argento, whose work here is satisfactory(..the stand-out, besides the brains exploding from a skull, being a henchman's stomach exploding from a shot-gun blast, with his intestines spilling out on the street;the weakest effect showing the obvious fake head of a mafioso being blown apart by a machine gun).
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Fun, yet uneven swan-song to the Italian Crime genre
Michael A. Martinez10 December 2000
Gotta love this movie. It comes right at the end of the Italian crime movie phase and is probably the most violent of the lot, right up there with Ruggero Deodato's LIVE LIKE A COP DIE LIKE A MAN. THE SMUGGLER is at times a wonderful combination of the genre, with all the usual gang dropping by from Romano Puppo and Nello Pazzafini as hitmen to Luciano Rossi as a hunchback drug taster! This flick's got it all: loads of violence, some imaginitive photography, and two of the coolest leads in history: Fabio Testi as the good guy and Marcel Bozzuffi as basically the same guy he was in THE FRENCH CONNECTION, a greasy slimeball. After all the violence and mayhem, this flick isn't exactly perfect. Where at times it rolls by smoothly, quite often the flick gets bogged down in confusing narrative and a lot of pointless characters. It's not atypical for Fulci, even if it is his only pure crime movie, complete with wanton and gratuitous gore. Faces are melted, heads are blown off, and guts are shot out of Romano Puppo's belly in glorious slow motion much like his very similar death at the end of STREET LAW.

Watch for the running in-joke with Guido Alberti (who looks no less than a million years old) flipping through channels, always skipping the crime flicks and erotic thrillers in favor of the good old Spaghetti Westerns. These scenes don't really ever fit in with the rest of the film, but it's all good fun nonetheless. Certainly Lucio Fulci is no Enzo G. Castellari or Umberto Lenzi when it comes to directing crime movies, but he injects this film with enough of his own touch that it becomes a lot of fun. Definitely not one to miss, and it certainly is a delight to learn it's finally coming to DVD.
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Bad Ol' Boys
radiobirdma1 March 2011
NOPE, capital letters. While Signore Fulci once had some not-too-big ambitions ("Paperino", "Lizard in a Woman's Skin"), this less than mediocre mafia/ poliziotto mix has one okay scene that maybe lasts a bit more than a minute: when the bad ol' boys of the Camorra, all withered pensioner consiglieres with pale moustaches and spectacles, settle the accounts with their tommy guns, including Non-Maestro Fulci in a cameo role. Apart from that, you get a nonsensical script, probably the worst and already then totally outdated disco soundtrack of the early 80s, highly unattractive Italian housewives plus a black transvestite in the females roles, hairy vaginas, a bit of zombie make-up, a bunsen burner held to a lady's face, an anal rape Napoli style ... a bag of guilty pleasure goodies, some might think, but it's all as gritty and shocking as the spaghetti bolognese at Luigi's grimy restaurant next door. Even the (Danish) DVDs extras don't tease afterwards. Here, you won't stay for dessert.
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Effectively brutal.
Scott LeBrun7 August 2015
Lucio Fulci brings his unique brand of sadism to this okay entry into the Eurocrime genre. Fabio Testi stars as Luca Di Angelo, a cigarette smuggler / family man who does have some principles. His organization is now constantly being threatened by rival outfits who want to control the drug traffic in the area. Luca is ready for revenge when one of the first victims is his brother Mickey (Enrico Maisto), but the bad guys, led by the power hungry Marsigliese (Marcel Bozzuffi) up their game when they decide to kidnap Lucas' wife and son.

The script, credited to four people (including Fulci) is ultimately very routine. There's nothing special about any of the characters, even if they are entertainingly played. Testi, as always, is a rugged and studly "hero". The joy here lies in the fact that the movie is so utterly violent. A face is burned to a crisp with a torch, a throat is torn open, a head is shot apart, and bodies are continuously riddled with bullet holes.

Supporting Mr. Testi are Ivana Monti as Lucas' wife, Saverio Marconi as the cocky young mafia man Perlante, Fabrizio Jovine as a police chief, and Ajita Wilson as Luisa. The actors are fine, especially Mr. Bozzuffi as a thoroughly nasty and despicable villain.

The action set pieces are not spectacular, but they are fun, and Fulci gives this trashy story (complete with full frontal female nudity as well as gore) decent pacing and a visceral appeal.

Fans of Fulcis' bloody horror films from this period may also like this feature.

Look for Fulci near the end in a cameo as one of the gunmen.

Seven out of 10.
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So bad it should be considered "contraband"
flamingyouth761 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
WARNING: SPOILERS THROUGHOUT ...but who cares because this is a complete stinker...

First off, I am a proud owner of most of Fulci's flicks, so I am not anti-Fulci. I also love watching bad movies, so I'm not some artsy-fartsy type who bashes films a great deal, so rating a film this low is something special for me.

This is a blatant rip-off of the Godfather series. Entire scenes are plagiarized, even if the lines are altered. Scenes like all the "godfathers" having a meeting to decide how to deal with a particular situation and the main character splitting with his wife are basically Godfather rip-offs. But this film is so bad that in the "godfather meeting" scene, they democratically take a vote by a raising of hands. Wait a minute...isn't the head of the family supposed to sit in silence and then TELL everyone what to do? What's with this "all in favor for choice one raise your hands" BS?! And the scene where the husband and wife split up is pathetic because in the next scene, she mysteriously shows up to take care of him and all is well! The plot is thread-bare and the dialogue is worse than a porn flick. Speaking of porn, what's up with the soundtrack? I think that very soundtrack was used in every porn flick from know, the one where you have a heavy, pulsing bass track with a screeching lead riff in the background. And when the porn track switches off, again with the plagiarizing...I'm sure the track is just a slightly altered version of the Godfather soundtrack.

Yes, this is a gory film. But it dragged so much in-between the violent scenes, I found myself fast-forwarding. The gore ranges from great bloody squibs to totally fake effects like the candle-in-the-face scene. But there are some spectacularly gory sequences that work, and the rape, while never actually shown, will make you squirm just because of the screams of the actress. I must say, she really went for it.

Overall, not really worth the effort. If you can get a 2 or 3 minute montage of the gore, that's what I'd go for.
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Great Fulci action flick
ericdetrick200222 June 2004
I wish Fulci made more films like this. I think part of my liking it is that it has a lot of elements that I love about 70s Italian horror films- gore, funky soundtrack, dubbed in english, and did I mention gore?

This actually had a pretty decent crime family story line to it too, and it was set in Italy. So much of the Italian crime family movies are set in New York, this takes us back to the homeland. You probably won't find this in Blockbuster or

Hollywood Video. I had to buy myself a copy online, but I am a collector of Fulci films. Blue Underground has a really nice quality print out on DVD- check it out!
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Bloody violence does not a movie make
Wizard-84 March 2018
Lucio Fulci is not among my favorite Italian directors, but he did make a few movies that were entertaining and/or interesting to watch. And his penchant for extreme violence and gore is a definite plus in my book, so you may understand why I was pumped to see "Contraband", after reading reports stating it was full of bloody and brutal violence. Well, that report is true - there is some serious violence and bloody splatter to be found here, and those moments are quite entertaining. But I wish I could say that about the rest of the movie. Personally, I was quite bored with most of the movie, especially the first third. It's slow moving, and really dull at times. And I didn't really care about any of the characters at all, so it was really hard to get involved in the story. It doesn't help that the movie is more often than not shoddily photographed, sometimes resembling a black and white movie, but more often having a sickly green pea soup coloring. I know I am in the minority here, and I did want to enjoy the movie much more than I did. But as a whole, the movie just didn't do that much for me.
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Fulci does crime!
Sam Panico1 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Imagine Fulci making a cop movie. Imagine that the budget ran out two weeks in. Imagine that real mobsters paid for the film, asking for a title change and for more violence (like Fulci was going to say no). Don't imagine. All of these things are wonderfully true and make Contraband such a weird addition to your Fulci collection.

Luca Di Angelo smuggles near Naples with his brother Mickey. They have a close call with the police and suspect a rival gangster, Scherino, of turning them in. After sharing their concerns with their boss Perlante, oen of Mickey's prize horses is killed and a fake police roadblock leads to Fulci paying homage (or straight up ripping off, depending on your perspective) to the scene where Sonny dies in The Godfather. Luca escapes death while his brother is not so lucky. Despite warnings that he should leave town, he has a speedboat funeral for his brother and vows revenge. Breaking into Scherino's house, he almost kills the man before running into his henchmen. He gets his ass kicked, but his life is spared after the boss tells him he had no part in the death of his brother.

Adele, Luca's wife, wants him to forget this life. But he's in deep after discovering that a vicious French criminal named The Marsigliese is responsible. We meet this criminal during a drug deal, where he responds to a bad batch of heroin by burning a woman's face with a blowtorch. If you haven't realized that you are watching a Lucio Fulci movie, this would be the point in the film where you realize that fact.

The Marsigliese starts killing all of the Mafia leaders so that he can become the sole boss of Naples. Even Perlante is nearly killed, only being saved by the fact that his chief capo was having sex with his mistress and triggered a bomb under the bed. After a meeting between Luca, Perlante and The Marsigliese, where they discuss working together, Luca warns his fellow smugglers that if the French boss has his way, there will be more drugs, more overdoses and more problems - with less money for all of them.

The police are using all of the intercine battling to round up smugglers, but Scherino saves Luca and suggests they work together. They meet at Perlante's house, but Luca smells The Marsigliese's cologne. That's when gunmen bust in and shoot everyone but Luca, who escapes by crashing through a window. Scherino is mortally wounded, but not before shooting Perlante in the neck, killing him.

Again, in case you wonder who directed this film, The Marsigliese kidnaps Adele and demands Luca turn over his smuggling operation over the phone...and then plays him the sounds of our hero's wife being beaten and gang-raped. Luca unites all of the retired mob bosses and old guard bosses, who are sick of hearing about the Frenchman taking over. They take out most of his men and Luca guns him down in a garbage-strewn alley in a scene packed with blood spraying everywhere.

Adele and rescued and Morrone, the leader of the old school mob guys, tells the police that he has no idea who Luca is.

Contraband was made as Fulci was starting to claim his gore crown. It's his only crime movie, but it's not a bad effort. And if you're looking for his trademark tics, as you've read above, this film is full of them. It has way more blood and guts than any film of this type and subverts the genre it should be in, so it's quite similar to how Fulci treated sword and sorcery with Conquest. This may not be one of his best-known films, but it's worth checking out.
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Bloody good mob action from gorelord Lucio Fulci!
dworldeater7 January 2018
Not to be confused with Mark Walberg's recent action flick of the same name. This is a tough and gritty Italian crime thriller from legendary director Lucio Fulci. Although best known for his gut churning work in the horror genre, Lucio has a diverse filmography of various genres he made. Contraband will surely please fans of his work in the horror genre as this film delivers big time on extreme violence and gore. Blood and guts splatter across the screen when bullet ridden bodies are filled with lead, Heads and body parts get blown off with sheer brutality from gunfire. While the action is not as abundant or crazy as a John Woo film, the aftermath of these gun battles is much more messy and sadistic in its execution. This film is centered around Luca(Fabio Testi), a cigarette smuggler who is at odds with a ruthless French gangster that is into selling narcotics and looking to dominate the underworld in Naples at any cost. This triggers a series of tragic events that have our hero Luca ready for all out revenge. In this brutal and depraved mob flick, the violence is very extreme and sadistic including scenes of torture and rape. The film is some pretty solid piece of gangster action, with great direction acting and sick gore f/x. Contraband is quite under rated in my opinion and is a great mob flick.
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An Iron Fist...Without the velvet glove.
Bezenby24 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
At least that what I think he says.

Contraband is Lucio Fulci trying his hand at the Italian Crime genre, adding his very own touch to the proceedings, and producing what results in a very gory thriller with all his eccentricities intact.

Set in Naples, it involves small time crooks Luca and his brother Mickey, who are heavily involved in the smuggling of cigarettes. After a raid on their operations, they both seek to find the grass who's been trying to mess things up for them. But who is it? After much accusation and conspiring, it turns out there's a new boss on the street, wanting to flood Naples with drugs and willing to wipe out the competition at any cost.

Contraband is a very slow moving film at first, but in a good way. Luca doesn't even start getting payback until the half hour mark, and there's a definite lack of car chases and gun battles that we've enjoyed before in films like The Big Racket and Violent Professionals. Fulci approaches the story from a different angle, showing us the various levels of the criminal hierarchy in Naples, introducing us to a myriad of characters, and then, basically, killing them all off in a very gory fashion. It's not action packed, but when the violence happens on screen it's extremely gory. This film ain't for the kids!

There's gore here to rival The Beyond and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Throats and stomachs are blown out, someone has their face burned off, and a man is very graphically shown having the back of his head blown off. Add to that the very cool scene in the disco (You can see it on YouTube), Fabio Testi's presence, and the overall laid back atmosphere, and you've got a great film right here.

There's a good few cameos from Italian Movie land - Romano Puppo, Venantini Venantino and Fulci himself. The Region 0 Blue Underground version is the one to have.
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"It's very good your perfume...where is it you get it?"
Warning: Spoilers
Alongside LIZARD, CONTRABAND is among the best non-zombie movies Fulci would make. Made right after he made ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS, Fulci was obviously quick to cotton on to the money-making potential for extreme gore. With this late-in-the-day crime thriller, made when the Italians were just beginning to ease off from that genre, he came out with one of his most shocking movies.

The Mafia operations in Naples are being set back by unknown parties. A massive contraband deal is interrupted by the police, a Mafia stables is burnt to the ground, and the brother of minor league Mafioso Luca (Testi) is assassinated at a phony police roadblock. This sends Luca on an obsessive hunt to find out who's causing all the mayhem. He's not long in finding out - a French drug racketeer known as 'The Marsigliese' (Bozzuffi) is killing his way through the Neapolitan crime lords, hoping to replace the penny-ante contraband pipeline with his own drug network.

Though CONTRABAND lacks the pace and conviction of the dynamic Lenzi and Di Leo police thrillers, Fulci does well enough and handles the action scenes well. Shootouts at a traitor's house and on a dawn street (the latter involving geriatric assassins - one of whom is Fulci himself in a witty cameo!) are standouts, as are the fight scenes at a sulphur-pit and a deserted liner dry-docked at an angle.

It certainly is way more violent and unpleasant than any American thriller you'd care to name, if not necessarily realistic in its approach. Submachine-gun fire literally disintegrates a guy's head, pistol-shots take out huge chunks from necks and skulls, shotgun blasts blow stomachs WIDE open, and in one of the most effective killings, one poor sod has an entire machine-gun clip emptied into his body until he takes a tumble down a cliff! This isn't mentioning the other unfortunates who are stabbed, boiled in pits, pistol-whipped, or blown apart in bomb-blasts. The make-up FX vary wildly from good to bad, but their extremely brutal approach do make it a film you won't forget in a hurry.

Two scenes in particular are especially hard to take. The first involves a pretty female drug courier. Her face is blow-torched to a horrible crispy, steamy black when she tries to double cross the villain, who sees through her attempt to pass him virtually worthless cut cocaine. This goes on for almost one full seriously unpleasant minute. The second has the villain attempting to force the hero into a deal - by having Luca's kidnapped wife beaten and sodomised, with her screams echoing down the phone line as an additional push. The rape itself isn't shown, but the convincing turn by the actress involved, and gloating manner of the villain ('This time, we have to do it right!'), make the scene nigh-on impossible to sit through without provoking some sort of reaction.

One of the most extreme crime thrillers, CONTRABAND further benefits from a great Euro-funk Fabio Frizzi score and some better-than-usual acting. Testi is likable as the 'honourable' hero, even if he does sometimes use sadistic torture. But his character is pretty much the same as the one he played in Fulci's ultra-sadistic 1975 western FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE.

The French/Italian actor Bozzuffi, well-known for his appearance in international productions, is excellent as the main villain of the piece, playing his ever-grinning sadist as an amalgam between his two most famous roles (his beaming gay thug from Z, and his sleazy cold-blooded hit-man from THE FRENCH CONNECTION), and presenting a character with no virtues at all! Romano Puppo, as the villain's imposing hit-man (who kills off most of the cast!), also makes a big impression, and has a great face that was perfect for crime movies. You can't wait for both to meet painfully gory deaths, and Fulci does score in that department! It's a shame that neither turn up until the halfway mark, but the film picks up considerably when they do. Sadly, both actors are no longer with us in real life, depriving the world of two vastly under-appreciated talents.

Other appearances are clocked in by Luciano Rossi as a hunchbacked drug chemist, Venantino Venantini as a lazy cop named 'Tarantino', and hardcore starlets Ajita Wilson and Cinzia Lodetti as the playthings to a playboy mobster. The latter gets a great scene rubbing her tits in a gay gangster's face before she gets blown up! So, CONTRABAND is a sleazy movie, and sleazy enough to make it worth seeing, BUT there are some irritating flaws. The English dubbing is chronic, and seriously mars some otherwise good performances (Bozzuffi gets saddled with a particularly bad gay voice, while Testi's voice turns up on at least three other different characters). Plus, the first third of the film is slow and boring.

Since virtually all of Fulci's movies are flawed in some way, at least CONTRABAND does deliver the goods, and is essential viewing for anyone into Fulci or European crime-slime in general.
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Hmm. Fulci isn't great every time
paulgeaf6 December 2003
I am a lover of the great though somewhat hit & miss director Lucio Fulci. For good old gore and zombieFlicks, he is the supremo. The number One. No contest. This is a movie about Gangsters. This is also a movie about violence. I just have to say that, yes, of course we expect - as is the reality- violence in a movie about the Mafia and it would follow that as we are supposedly witnessing some operations and conversations/meetings they have, we are going to see the instant throwaway type of violence that occurs. What I DON'T think we needed to see or expected was the oh so subtly 'put there for no reason other than to have it included somewhere in the film' rape scene. Fulci can be master of creating tension, fear and horror by gore, that is true. He is also great at doing the same by IMPLICATION. What is the reasoning behind giving the viewer the Rape scene when it could so easily have been implied? The film would neither lose nor gain from this minor change. It would simply seem like the director was a lot more grown up than he obviously is. I dont find rape gratifying. I will watch a film and if it contains a rape scene that IS integral to the story or it has to be SHOWN graphically to inflict that shock upon the viewer in order to understand the message then yes, I will give credit and watch it as part of the bigger picture without getting too upset.(I still prefer NOT to see it happen) Fulci has done some real bad movies. This could be one of them. The story is weak. The ending predictable and some of the violence just out of place.

I still love his movies but this one is getting a 3 out of 10.
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Mediocre euro-crime flick, but Fulci's gore is exhilarating!
Coventry18 March 2007
The legendary and beloved (to some) Italian demigod Lucio Fulci usually was one of the first directors to quickly cash in on temporarily popular trends in cinema but, for some reason, it took him until the early 80's to participate in the giant success of explicitly violent and relentless crime-thrillers. Fellow director-friends like Umberto Lenzi ("Almost Human"), Ruggero Deodato ("Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man"), Sergio Martino ("Violent Professionals") and Enzo Castellari ("Street Law") had been making loads of money with their outrageous cop-thrillers since the early 70's already, but Fulci didn't benefice from the profitable sub genre until the release of "Contraband". Arguably the best years of the trend were already over when Fulci came along or maybe the script just isn't strong enough, but "Contraband" is one of the director's most uneven accomplishments; do I even daresay a minor disappointment. Luca Di Angelo has a loving wife and son, and along with his brother Mickey he's the most successful cigarette-smuggler in the whole of Naples. The two brothers live in perfect harmony and understanding with the other eminent mafia clans in town and not even the police bothers them too much. When first his brother Mickey, and subsequently all the other befriended mafia leaders are barbarically slaughtered, Luca swears to avenge them. He quickly discovers the French immigrant smuggler "Il Marsigliesi" is responsible for the murders, as he intends to forcefully take over the entire smuggling business in Naples. The story can be summarized really quickly, and yet usually the story lines of these euro-crime films are extremely convoluted and full of far-fetched twists. Fulci's script is rather rudimentary, with either no red herring or very predictable ones and no sudden surprises or genuine shock-revelations. But there's some good news as well! Whatever "Contraband" lacks in originality, Fulci compensates in excessive amounts of outrageous violence and totally gratuitous gore! These criminals don't just shoot each other with one bullet, no, they keep firing until either the intestines fall out, or the faces are transformed into nasty piles of rotten meat-leftovers. The methods of torturing used by the malevolent French gangsters include horrible face-burnings and sadistic anal rapes. It actually looks like Lucio was once again more interested in making another gross horror movie, and who the hell are we to complain about that? The acting performances are all below average, even crime/giallo regular Fabio Testi is out of shape, and even the use of music and photography aren't at all spectacular. Recommended to trained fans of Italian crime thrillers and Lucio Fulci, newcomers to either of them are advised to postpone their viewing of "Contraband" until you've seen some of the aforementioned titles.
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