Friday, July 22, 2011

You thought local cops were hardcore: LIVE LIKE A COP DIE LIKE A MAN


Ruggero's Deodato's sophomore film after the softcore sex film WAVE OF LUST was this hard as nails, almost fascist, Italian Police action film that holds the place card for being one of, if not THE most violent of that sub-genre. The Italian "Polizia" film was a popular sub-genre of the thriller that ran through the 70's with certain directors excelling at them. Writer Fernando Di Leo often wrote many of the era's crime pictures, and his name is on the screenplay for this one as well. Themes of corruption, street violence, and the Police having to be as bad as the criminals run through these films. LIVE LIKE A COP DIE LIKE A MAN takes these themes to such a hyper violent, almost absurd level that it almost has to be parody. But anyone familiar with the violent excesses of Ruggero Deodato's other films will quickly realize it probably isn't. He is just a director that likes to go over the top. He may very well have his political themes and concerns, but at the end of the day, he feels everything has to be turned up to eleven.

Ray Lovelock and Marc Porel star as Ray and Tony two off the cuff Italian cops who make up the "special forces" for the Rome police. Seems being the "special forces" in Rome equates to having a license to kill, beat up and maim whomever you may need to for any case at any time. The movie opens with a seriously impressive motorcycle chase when two scum bags snatch a lady's purse and drag her a half block, smashing her into a fire hydrant in the process. Our heroes see it happen and go after the thugs. It is important to mention the two of them seem to just cruise around together on a motorcycle with no where really to go irregardless if they are on duty or off. They may not be portrayed as gay, but bunked up on the motorcycle together holding each other tight, they certainly look that way more than once. The chase ends shockingly with the thugs wrecking into an open truck, one of them impaled on the handlebars and the other once bleeding internally. To which Ray viciously snaps his neck. When our dudes are walking away from the scene one asks the other "Did yours die on his own? I had to help mine along!"

From here they set out to find a local gangster and to do so they decide to flush him out by setting fire to all the fancy cars in the lot of one of his clubs. So they burn all the Rolls Royce and other big shot cars, as well as the night watchmen working there! Later in the movie Ray is shocked to find out the cars were not insured and feels a pang of remorse for burning the automobiles!!! They slap around the Mafia guys big tit sister and take turns fucking her since she is a nymphomaniac (In real life this actress was the sister of Ruggero's wife, so there is a little bit of weirdness there. Ruggero's wife plays the sexy Secretary the guys keep trying to seduce with no success because she is too smart and liberated to fall for their horseshit!).

The duo also break up a hostage situation,and stop a robbery, both by sneaking in and literally cold blooded shooting everyone involved, one by loading up silencers and sneaking onto the scene and wiping everyone out. Their boss constantly treats them like they are overzealous kids, not the murderous psychopaths they clearly are.

The movie walks a fine line between being a straight out action film, a piece of right wing propaganda, and some sort of weird violent parody/ fantasy. It works best when looked at in the last category as a berserk parody of Italian action and cop films where things are never what they should be. Instead they are way more violent and insane. The only movie in this realm that compares is LUCIO FULCI's equally over the top CONTRABAND (1981).But that film plays it straight as a gangster picture. This thing is like a hyper violent cartoon satirizing the cop genre.

Interestingly enough this is one of the best looking productions I have seen from Deodato. Slickly directed with great actions scenes and just great, knock about moments. While his horror films are well regarded sometimes his stuff can feel cheap (THE BARBARIANS, DIAL HELP, THE WASHING MACHINE) but this consistently feels like a top notch production and is well worth checking out.

The new RARO DVD has trailers and a 42 minute documentary about the making of the film with interviews with most of the surviving key players in which they all reminisce about the making of the film, the apparently made up on set controversy between the lead actors, and yes, how it was supposed to be a serious action film.

Review © Andrew Copp

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