Friday, July 17, 2009


Well, finally as promised I will start some film reviews here. For those of you that do not know, thanks to podcasts such as The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema, Outside the Cinema, and Cinema Diabolica, I started watching genre films with a lot more intent and enthusiasm than previously. (These are all really cool shows that you should check out... also check out the magazine Paracinema and website Radiation Sickness!)

Well, I wrote this review awhile back, but here is it on my blog for the first time!

I give you.....................

(If anyone knows where to find a better image of this poster, please let me know!)

Original Title: La mala ordina
Year: 1972
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Writer: Fernando Di Leo (story, dialogue, and screenplay), Augusto Finocchi (screenplay), Ingo Hermes (screenplay)
Genre: Eurocrime

imdb synopsis: When a shipment of heroin disappears between Italy and New York, a small-time pimp in Milan is framed for the theft. Two professional hitmen are dispatched from New York to find him, but the real thieves want to get rid of him before the New York killers get to him to eliminate any chance of them finding out he’s the wrong man.
This film is the second of a loose trilogy from Fernando Di Leo, the other two being Milano Calibre 9 and Il Boss. It sounded fantastic from a review I heard, and then was recommended to me.

The synopsis above covers the film pretty well. I left out the last sentence though because it had a spoiler.

Luca Canali (Mario Adorf) is the small-time pimp mentioned and the film essentially follows his story as he is being pursued by the two American hitmen Dave and Frank (Henry Silva and Woody Strode) and by members of the gang from Milan.

Adorf is the star here for me most definitely… the Luca Canali character is kind of pathetic and gets no respect from anyone, and it makes him very interesting. He’s still pretty much a scum bag, but you will root for him more than likely.

He must have a thick skull, because the man loves to head butt stuff. It is quite awesome. Right off the bat, we see this guy with a sweet pompadour dispatch some thugs by simply smashing his skull into theirs. It also comes back later to the nth degree, but I'll leave that for you to discover. I can honestly say I didn't see it coming.

Silva branches out from his usual stoic, stone-faced role and is outgoing and animated at times. Silva and Strode both work well together, and the characters of Dave and Frank are a nice contrast. Dave is the big spending, loud womanizer to Frank’s quiet seriousness. I would have liked to have seen more interaction/story than was provided with these two, but what was there was quite good. I'm sure the pair was of some inspiration to Tarantino for the Jules and Vincent characters in Pulp Fiction.

Another strong element of the film was Di Leo’s little stylistic touches that make you grin; the things I am a sucker for with long focus, interesting camera angles, etc. There is a really nicely shot chase sequence (on foot and car) that was very exciting. I like these little touches in many of these eurocrime features. It makes them stand out I think from their American cousins.

The story was pretty straightforward but an interesting twist on a lot of these films. There is no law enforcement element here at all - we just see criminals taking on criminals. Canali himself is dicked over time and time again, which added to my being drawn to him. He is presented at times as gentle and really lovable loser.

One thing that confused me on first watch was Canali’s eventual “relationship” with Dave and Frank. I don’t think I am giving anything away by saying that… A couple of other little issues I had overall were some lingering scenes that seemed to just go on too long, and some strange sound issues.

There are a couple scenes with hippies dancing to an annoying song that really could have been shaved down. They establish a setting, but giving 2 or 3 minutes to people swinging and white-dancing in this sort of film I thought was unnecessary. I'm convinced also after seeing the other Di Leo films of this "trilogy" that he needs to just stay away from club dancing period!

Also, I thought the editing on a scene with a clawed crane at the very end (a pretty iconic moment it seems, as I have seen the image used on posters for the film actually) was a tad awkward. I can’t give away anything, but you’ll probably notice what I am talking about when you see it. I think the purpose was to establish the fact that the operator of said crane was very inexperienced at doing so, but it still felt a little clunky to me at a pretty pivotal moment.

As for the sound, I don’t know if it was just the version I watched or what, but the dubbing and some of the sound effects just seemed off. I assume this was filmed in Italian, and the version I watched was in Italian, but no words ever seemed to match up with how the mouths were moving. Also, little things like footsteps seemed to be slightly off. These are very nit-picky things though.

Overall, a very strong film I thought. It is a slower burn at times compared to straight up action-crime flicks due to some interesting character development.

If you like to root for the underdog, this film is for you. Luca Canali!

8 out of 10

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