aka Uomini si nasce poliziotti si muore
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Cast: Marc Porel, Ray Lovelock, Adolfo Celi, Silvia Dionisio
Extras: Documentary: Poliziotti Violenti / TV advertisement directed and commented by Ruggero Deodato / Director filmography and biography / Booklet: Containing critical analysis
In Italian “poliziotti violenti” literally translates into “police violence”. It is a type of cop thriller from Italy that was apparently pretty popular in the late 1970s. Like the “Dirty Harry” movies in the United States, they feature a gritty, violent and ugly look at law enforcement and the overlap it has with the criminals it deals with everyday. Best known for the controversial Cannibal Holocaust, director Ruggero Deodato, along with well-known crime writer Fernando Di Leo (The Italian Connection, Mr. Scarface), takes this sensibility and puts it in a hard-boiled yet playfully humorous (think Lethal Weapon on steroids) cop/crime caper. Loaded with extreme violence and sex bordering on anarchy, Live Like a Cop is another feather in Deodato’s cinematic hat.
Fred and Tony are partners in a special law enforcement unit that does the dirty work that “the uniforms” can’t do. After one of their fellow cops is murdered the duo find out that he was killed by henchmen of the local crime boss Roberto Pasquini who owns several illegal casinos. Fred and Tony’s boss puts them on the trail of the Don and looses the savage dogs. They torch a slew of expensive cars, take turns fucking Pasquini’s nymphomaniac daughter and kill anyone who gets in their way. After all of that carnage and casual sex, Federico and Antonio find a man that had his eye gouged out by Pasquini and he tells them that the crime boss is on his boat, but when the boys get there, they don’t exactly get what they are expecting.
The ten minute opening scene sets the tone of the remaining 85 minutes. The partners are riding around on a motorcycle when they see a couple of thugs trying to snatch a woman’s purse. When the woman won’t let go, the criminals drag her down the sidewalk a crack her head on a lamppost where she dies. Still unable to get the bag, one of the men stomps her head in frustration until she’s a bloody mess. Fred and Tony take off after them and we are treated to an eight minute motorcycle chase through the crowded streets, a scene that was done guerrilla-style to obvious surprise of some onlookers. The rest of the movie is riffs on the same carefree, exciting and violent escapades. It’s hard to know who the protagonists are here with the assassin-like police and the laissez-faire attitude of their superior.
That’s the fun of it all though. They do all of this horrendous stuff in plain sight, then crack wise about it. My favorite scene is when they go to Pasquini’s hot ass daughter’s apartment to try and locate him. Fred goes in her bedroom with her and ends up slapping her in the face which knocks her clothes half off. It turns out that she is sex crazed and ends up screwing them both, one after the other. This is all done in the same emotionless way as when they are murdering the bad guys. Deodato was obviously trying to make a point here, which he is known to do, but after 30+ years the lesson is lost and what we are left with is a fun, sleazy cop thriller/drama/comedy. I don’t have much to compare this to as far as ”poliziotti violenti” movies, but I know what I like and I loved this.
Raro Video USA is also little known to me but after seeing the quality of this release, I will be looking forward to their future titles. I would put them in the same upper echelon home video company as Criterion, only with a European flair. The high definition 35mm transfer is a pristine, spotless work of art and the original mono audio was clean and well mixed. They also took the time to redo the Italian to English subtitles and they did an extraordinary job. Unfortunately the 42 minute featurette, a documentary about the poliziotti violenti, is in Italian but doesn’t have subtitles* which is a shame because it looked very interesting. But overall this is a fantastic release for fans of Italian cinema, Ruggero Deodato and violent exploitation films in general.
*Upon further review, it does indeed have subtitles. YAY!