Stunning Italian crime flick!,
This review is from: Big Racket [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
When a powerful gang of extortionists forces the businessmen of an Italian city to pay for their protection, the tough Inspector Nico Palmieri (Fabio Testi) investigates the case; however he is surprised by the racketeers and ends up seriously injured. When he is discharged from the hospital, he joins the victims of extortion trying to find a witness to testify in court since the mobsters are always released by the Attorney Giovanni Giuni (Antonio Marsina). Only the restaurant owner Luigi Giulti (Renzo Palmer) accepts the burden; but his daughter is brutally raped by the gangsters and commits suicide later. Nico is pressed by his superiors to drop the case but he invites his friend Pepe (Vincent Gardenia) to help him using illegal methods believing that the end justifies the means. The Big Racket is a fantastic crime/action film with a great story, solid performances and several very exciting gun battles. Over the past few years director Enzo G. Castellari has slowly become one of my favorite Italian cult filmmakers. He's worked in nearly every genre I hold dear, swinging from the western to thrillers to post-apocalyptic Mad Max rip-offs without missing a beat. Here he starts the action off in high gear and then manages to ramp things up with only the briefest of pauses along the way for strategy.
The story moves smoothly from point to point with little wasted effort and consistently shows a great deal of style. Even if by 1976 the (over) use of slow motion in action scenes was getting to be old hat, Castellari employs the technique brilliantly. It never feels forced or gratuitous but enhances the tension and shock as bullets strike flesh or glass flies. The best use of slo-mo here has to be the amazing scene in which we watch as Testi is tumbled down a hillside in a car. In this astonishing moment he and his car are pushed over the side of a huge embankment. A camera placed inside the car as it tumbles to the bottom gives the scene an intensity and immediacy which is staggering. It's moments like this one that keep the audience off balance. The movie throws in unexpected twists that smartly draw us in and keep us guessing. Having civilian marksman Giovanni impulsively join the action during the failed police ambush puts a further edge on the proceedings. Seeing this regular guy do the right thing, pay a horrible price and become a vengeful outlaw is well played with Guerrini more than capable in the role.
Even the score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis is amazing sounding, as if the best '70s era hard rock jam band you never heard of recorded it. Truly this is a great find for fans of both Euro-Cult and flat-out action/thriller movie fans but I do have to offer one problem. This DVD only presents the film with its English dub track which, while serviceable, is not the perfect way to see the movie. Blue Underground presents the film in a gorgeous blemish-free print letterboxed at 1.85:1 and enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The film is sharp and colorful, bringing a great amount of detail to the fore, especially in the many slow motion shots. While I've already mentioned the problem I have with the English audio track I'm happy to report that the mono sound is well presented and pretty robust. There are two extras on the DVD, with the theatrical trailer being the least and a solid commentary track adding real value for fans. Enzo Castellari joins moderator David Gregory for an entertaining trip through The Big Racket that smartly also addresses several other of the director's movies.