Thursday, April 1, 2010


Here is an older review of mine I dig from the crypts just for you!

My reviews sure have gotten a lot more wordy lately

Original Title: Roma a mano armata
Year: 1976
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Umberto Lenzi (story), Dardano Sacchetti (screenplay)
Genre: Polizia

"Me, I'm protected by Satan. I'm shitting lead."

A tough, violent cop who doesn't mind bending the law goes after a machine-gun-carrying, hunchbacked psychotic killer.

Hmm, not sure if that covers it so well, but oh well.

I thought this was a solidly acted, fun film.

Maurizio Merli plays Commissioner Leonardo Tanzi , a role similar to his roles in Napoli Violenta (another Lenzi film) and Roma Violenta (Commissario Betti). These movies must have been filmed around the same times (1975-1976). Tenzi is rough and a bit vigilante, but not as much so as his Betti character.

We do get to see quite a few Merli chop-punches and lots of gritted teeth from underneath his porn-quality mustache.

Another actor who has become one of my favorites in the short time I have been watching these films is Tomas Milian. He plays a nasty hunchback Moretto who has some great lines throughout the film. (The Satan line above is his.) There is a great scene where he hijacks an ambulance as well.

The story overall felt a little broken to me. There is the overall story of Tanzi trying to track down a high profile criminal, Ferrender. He is constantly after Moretto because he believes that Moretto knows Ferrender's whereabouts... I think. There's a story with a drug dealer which may or may not be tied to Ferrender. And there is also a story with a group of teens who Tanzi chases down in relation to an assault/rape. Other than perhaps establishing Tanzi's vigilante character and providing some fun chases and confrontations, these little pieces that make up much of the middle of the film do not do much to otherwise advance the overall plot.

There are some interesting elements of the media's role in Tanzi's career, as the police captain must always weigh the results of Tanzi's actions vs. the backlash such behavior will result in when the media reports on it.

Umberto Lenzi is becoming another favorite of mine it seems. Almost Human was a nice Tomas Milian as a bad guy film, and Violent Naples which was filmed around the same time was great as well. Lenzi does well at showing a gritty Rome (flaming box piles anyone?) and has some nice lighting and shots here. There are some really cool, abrupt depth of field changes that add a lot to the style of the film... focusing at faces subsequently in a line, or a particularly cool one with a long focus on a car parking, then the focus pulls back to inside another car with Merli's eyes in the rear view mirror. Without the interesting, European style filming of many of these polizia films, they become just standard action films.

Action packed with some soul, this one is quite fun. I can overlook the problems with this story when I am handed Italian-style car and rooftop chases!

Score: 7 / 10


Samuel Wilson said...

I liked this one and the other Inspector Tanzi film I've seen, The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist, and I agree with you on Lenzi when he's making police films. His horror stuff is all over the place, but I haven't seen one of his cop films yet that I've disliked.

pickleloaf said...

i'm not even sure i have seen any Lenzi horror flicks... any you would recommend?

oh, i take that back. nightmare city was the shit!

Matt-suzaka said...

Milian is fantastic in pretty much everything he does and I love Almost Human. You should check out Syndicate Sadists, which stars an awesome Milian and is directed by Lenzi. Great little Euro crime film.