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A Special Cop in Action (1976)

Italia a mano armata (original title)
A crime syndicate starts a crime wave in Turin, they rob a bank, taking a hostage to get away from Police Inspector Betti and Ferrari, his partner. However, the hostage turned out to be their accomplice in disguise.


Marino Girolami (as Franco Martinelli)


Leila Buongiorno (screenplay), Gianfranco Clerici (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Credited cast:
Maurizio Merli ... Betti
Raymond Pellegrin ... Arpino
John Saxon ... Albertelli
Mirella D'Angelo ... Luisa
Toni Ucci ... Cacace
Daniele Dublino ... Luzzi
Sergio Fiorentini Sergio Fiorentini ... Mancuso
Franco Borelli Franco Borelli ... Bertoli
Dino Mattielli Dino Mattielli ... Attardi
Rocco Oppedisano Rocco Oppedisano
Carlo Valli Carlo Valli ... Rocchi
Marcello Monti Marcello Monti ... Torri
Massimo Vanni ... Fabbri
Fortunato Arena Fortunato Arena ... Morel
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Enzo Andronico ... Boretti


A crime syndicate starts a crime wave in Turin, they rob a bank, taking a hostage to get away from Police Inspector Betti and Ferrari, his partner. However, the hostage turned out to be their accomplice in disguise.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thriller | Action | Crime







Release Date:

27 November 1976 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

A Special Cop in Action See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Telecolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Final part of police commissioner Betti's trilogy, also including Violent City (1975) and Violent Naples (1976). See more »


Edited into La tua vita per mio figlio (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Beware of the merciless mustache!
15 July 2014 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

Call me sick or call me sadist, but nothing makes me merrier than watching a raw and excessively violent Italian cop thriller from the 1970's! These so-called "Poliziotteschi" flicks simply have everything that avid cult fanatics could possibly be seeking for, and more! And also this "Italia A Mano Armato" (a.k.a. "A Special Cop in Action") features incredibly massive doses of hard-boiled action, nail-biting suspense, dazzling car chases (and rooftop chases), badass characters, nasty plot twists, controversial political/social themes, gritty atmospheres and a sizzling soundtrack. Director Franco Martinelli is perhaps not the most prolific name in this genre, but he is clearly playing in the same league as the genuine experts (Umberto Lenzi, Stelvio Massi, Fernando Di Leo…) in terms of quality and sheer entertainment. In good old Poliziotteschi tradition, there isn't much of a stable plot, but the pacing moves forward like a derailed train and something new & exciting happens approximately every one and a half minutes. Maurizio "Mustache" Merli returns for the third and final time as commissioner Betti, the unorthodox and relentless copper with fists of steel and an allergy for political injustice. Betti is up to his neck in crime scenes again, including violent bank robberies, heroin smuggling and – most repugnant of all – the cowardly kidnapping of six defenseless school children in exchange for a giant ransom. Betti is convinced that all the separate crimes lead back to one major gangster kingpin, namely the sly Albertelli. But Albertelli is a widely respected businessman and uses all his political power and influence to keep Betti out of his way. You needn't look for style or visual elegance in this type of cinema, as this certainly isn't similar to the works of contemporary Italian A-list directors like Fredrico Fellini or Michelangelo Antonioni. The Poliziotteschi films were initially inspired by Hollywood blockbusters like "Dirty Harry" and "The French Connection", but they gradually evolved into a fully unique genre that also perfectly illustrated the depressing social and economic climate in Italy at that time. You'll notice here in this film as well that the tone and atmosphere are continuously grim, the good guys embittered and even a happy ending is out of the question. The performances are terrific, with Merli as the unstoppably fit copper. You can even throw him out of a speeding car or lock him up in a prison amidst hundreds of personal enemies, and still he never gives up! Cult deity John Saxon is fabulous as the slimy and sardonic villain Albertelli. He only appears on screen after half an hour, but he plays an essential part in the outrageous climax. Sadly enough there's always a shortage of strong women in these movies. The only noteworthy females here are Merli's insignificant love interest and a squealing rape victim. The extended car chase forms the highlight of sheer adrenaline (look out for the little black car that gets rammed into the river) and the shootout in the harbor is unforgettable as well. My hat off to the stuntmen and camera operators that literally risked their lives in order to provide this cult gem with genuine action sequences, shot from imaginative angles and viewpoints.

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