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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
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.
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.
"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.
*** This review may contain 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
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).
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.
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
Fulci's movies tend to be a mixed: they're either terribly good or
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
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.
*** This review may contain 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(..it'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).
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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