aka Napoli violenta (I), Sudden Justice
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Script: Vincenzo Mannino
Music: Franco Micalizzi
Photography: Fausto Zuccoli, Sabastiano Celeste
Cast: Maurizio Merli (Commissioner Betti
), John Saxon (Capuano
), Barry Sullivan (the General
), Elio Zamuto (Casagrande
), Maria Grazia Spina (Gervasi's wife
), Silvio Tranquili (Gervasi
), Attilio Duse, Massimo Deda, Guido Alberti (The Commandant
), Pino Ferrara (the garage owner
), Carlos De Carvalho, Enrico Maisto, Tomasso Paladino, Carlo Gaddi, Gabriella Lepori, Franco Oboardi, Ivana Novak, Riccardo Petrazzi, Luciano Rossi, Nino Vingelli, Vittorio Sancisi, Paolo Bonetti, Domenico Di Constanzo, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Fulvio Mingozzi, Pierangelo Civera, Ivano Silveri, Marzio Onorato, Genaro Cuomo, Domenico Messina
Have you just been tripped up by some horrendous fashion victim in shoes five feet high? Can you detect a certain aroma of (heaven forbid!) incense emanating from your flatmates bedroom? Are those wind chimes that you can hear from the same vicinity? Oh dear. Well, let me give you a little bit of advice: sit down, crack open a beer and mainline this shit baby. Call it a cure, call it a necessity, but when life begins to feel just too harmonic, just too happy, just too goddamned nice, you need a tonic - a tonic with big guns, bad mouths and serious action. You need Sudden Justice , a film guaranteed to wipe any hippie nonsense in the crap of it's own acid blatherings. Yeah.
As is the way with these films there are about eighteen different storylines, all of them nasty and all of them revolving around Inspector Berti (Maurizio Merli), a cop with a bad temper problem and worse attitude. It would appear that 95% of the population of Naples are actually sociopathic criminals, while the other 5% are either comatose or about to die violently. Two creeps (one of them the incomparable Luciano Rossi from Django the Bastard) go on a violent theivin' and rapin' spree - but not for long. One is soon forced to closely examine the contents of a lavatory bowl while the other is dangling from a spiked fence, speared through the neck.
Casagrande (Elio Zamuto, who seemed to specialise in playing these well-dressed psychos) is a nasty piece of work who is suspected of carrying out a violent bank robbery. One problem: he has an alibi. He was at the police station signing his probation forms at the time of the crime. Hmmn. He's actually making use of some biker chums who transport him through the crumbling streets at breakneck speed so as to fool the authorities. Berti, however, is no fool, and takes the cerebral approach: he runs him down before shooting him in the head. This kind of thing never happens in Chipping-On-The-Wold.
Amidst all this mayhem also drifts The Commandant (Guido Alberti), a head Mafia honcho. One of his enterprises is a protection racket, and when a humble mechanic refuses to pay up, his cronies violently torch his garage, killing him and crippling his winsome kid (better luck next time, guys). Our inspector is not happy with this, and his only chance of trapping the big boss is by using Capuano (John Saxon), a financier with ideas above his station and a price on his head.
I must confess that the more Italian crime films that I watch, the more I like them. They are so incredibly dingy, so marvellously mean spirited and misanthropic. Umberto Lenzi provides some of the more extreme examples of the genre: there are no innocents here, only those who kill and those whose are going to be killed. Anyone who leads a normal life is going to end up clutching at his or her guts in a pool of blood. The sympathetic characters meet increasingly violent demises - the mechanic, a woman who gets decapitated by a passing tram, an undercover agent who gets strapped down and has his head used as a bowling pin (?!?) The whole enchilada is so resoundingly unpleasant that it actually becomes rather loveable.
Furthermore, the direction here is pretty top-notch, the script is tight and the music is so groovy that it manages to mix early seventies synth bass lines with mandolin riffs !!! Zamuto and Rossi stand out from the rest of the cast with their sheer nastiness and there are good turns from veterans such as Silvio Tranquili and Carlo Gaddi. The ending is supposed to be downbeat - the nauseating brat limping down the street - and it is. You just can't help but wish that some psycho would come along and finish the job so honourably begun. All in all, a good little film, perfect for those summer nights when you begin to feel uncharacteristic feelings of optimism creeping up on you.
Oh yeah. It's quite violent too.
Reviewed by Matt Blake