Italian cult/exploitation cinema from the 1970s is definitely my favorite type of film-making, but I just cannot seem to decide whether my number #1 beloved sub genre is the Spaghetti Western, the Giallo or the Poliziotteschi. Recently, and thanks to having seen a couple of brilliant titles like "The Big Racket" and "Revolver", I'm leaning most towards the Poliziotteschi again and evidently my expectations for "Street Law" were also set incredibly high. Of course this has to be a great movie, with a director like Enzo G. Castellari and a cast led by none other than Franco Nero. Due to its vigilante themes and time of release, many ignorant people claim that "Street Law" is nothing but a quick attempt to cash in on the tremendous success of "Death Wish", with Nero copying the famous role played by Charles Bronson, but I swear you this film is much more than an uninspired rip-off. It's an action/thriller classic in its own right with story lines, action sequences and characters drawings that are totally different than anything featuring in "Death Wish", or any other contemporary vigilante-thriller for that matter. During the exhilarating opening sequences, Castellari already shows a lovely montage – guided by adrenalin-pumping music – illustrating that the streets of a nameless big Italian city are infested with violent crime. During broad daylight there are muggings, car and home jacking, robberies, drive-by shootings, nihilistic mafia executions and there are never any police authorities in sight! In this same city, Franco Nero stars as the anonymous lab-worker Carlo Antonelli who's unlucky enough to walk into a bank with his personal savings moments before three savage robbers come storming in. When Carlo too obviously tries to recover some of his own money, the robbers roughly take him hostage and leave him severely beaten up in their getaway car. Frustrated, humiliated and accused by the police of being provocative, Carlo vows to track the criminals himself. This is where the big differences with films like "Death Wish" become unmistakable, because Carlo obviously isn't a forceful fighting machine or strategic genius and spends most of the film's running time either getting physically pulverized or getting busted when trying to infiltrate into the underworld. Come to think of it, this might even be Franco Nero's least heroic role! Carlo's beautiful wife (the yummy Barbara Bach) is worried sick about him and he only starts making some progress when he gets help from small time crook Tommy. "Street Law" is a terrific film, but still plays in a lower league than the absolute most thrilling Poliziotteschi classics like "Almost Human", "Milano Calibro 9", Rome armed to the Teeth" or "Rabid Dogs". There are many fantastic action sequences, most notably the final shootout in the hangar, but I still found this film less sadist and shocking than I secretly hope in this type of cinema
Oh, one more thing: dubbing always matters! This is the second or third time that I watch a film in which Franco Nero's rough and manly Italian voice is dubbed by a rather squeaky and insecure English voice, which gives makes his performance somehow weaker. Still though, a truly recommend Italian 70s cult flick!