Surprisingly tolerable poliziottesco thanks to its action-packed narrative (with robberies, shoot-outs, fistfights and chases galore) and vivid locations (this was one of a long list of such thrillers revolving around a specific Italian city); Francesco De Masi’s score is also serviceable. Leonard Mann, however, is no substitute for Maurizio Merli (or even Luc Merenda) – at one point, he takes on two thugs in a bar, but he’s just too skinny to be a credible tough guy! On the other hand, while Henry Silva isn’t particularly taxed by his overly familiar criminal boss role, he always proves to be good value for money in this type of film.
A number of seemingly irrelevant subplots are eventually nicely integrated into the main storyline: Mann occasionally looks out for a likable juvenile delinquent who subsequently saves his life from the clutches of Silva’s minions (the boy’s own sacrifice at the end was rather unwarranted, though); Alfredo Lastretti appears as a would-be child kidnapper who’s put behind bars and castrated by his fellow inmates (an incident which serves as a diversion for Silva’s own escape); and Evelyn Stewart appears very briefly at the end as Silva’s old flame (whom he now wants dead), brought back from abroad by Mann specifically to bait his old nemesis.
The film is quite violent: apart from the afore-mentioned castration, a pregnant woman is kicked in the belly during the opening bank robbery, a squealer is decapitated, and Silva himself is graphically trampled by a train at the climax. There isn’t that much of the typically hard-boiled dialogue (which actually sounds even funnier when spoken in the almost unintelligible Neapolitan dialect) but the standout is when a bank robber tries to persuade his associates to give themselves up rather than shoot it out with the cops, because if they’re caught “not even the Virgin Mary could prevent them getting a life sentence”!
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