ROGUE COPS AND RACKETEERS BLU RAY REVIEW

Italian genre cinema is a personal favourite of mine. I often love seeing films that I saw in the 1990s, often cut in places, often in horrible copies and even occasionally, starring people that I recognise and now love their bodies of work. Many of the best genre films from the region, come in the poliziotteschi genre. To you and me, this is the cop films, inspired by THE FRENCH CONNECTION success and it was the epitome of Italian cinema in the mid 1970s. I wont go into more detail about the ways and means of the genre and its best pieces. Instead I will say how arrow have come to us with the  ROGUE COPS AND RACKETEERS, containing two films, THE BIG RACKET and THE HEROIN BUSTERS. Both directed by Enzo G. Castellari, he of KEOMA (still waiting for a great UK release), THE BRONX WARRIORS TRILOGY (available on ARROW TV) and THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, which is so much fun in a warsploitation way.

THE BIG RACKET, the first of the films on the set, sees Inspector Nico Palmieri (Fabio Testi) taking on a gang of extortion artists. They are ruthless and work together with a bunch of racketeers, to own the whole of a cities operations. When things start to fail with the law, Nico turns to those who have suffered at the hands of his villains. The second film on the set is THE HEROIN BUSTERS, which again sees Testi play as a cop,, this time undercover called Fabio. He aims at taking down a ring of drug-smugglers who use the globe to sift and split their loads into the arms of junkies. He has a helping hand and stumbling block, in the guise of Mike Hamilton (David Hemmings). He is an Interpol agent with a long list of demands and desires. The biggest desire, is to take the gang down, but with less law and more bullets.

Both films are really, very brilliant, but dont get me wrong. There is a better film in the two. That is THE BIG RACKET. I believe this for two specific reasons. One is that finally it appears here uncut (which means that DEATH WISH II is next!). Two is that it has so much more ambition in its construction and execution than the other film. Making for a great film. Sure, both films are directed with an astute eye to action and energy. However, THE BIG RACKET has a classic revenge narrative, decent execution of its shoot em up scenes and delivers those great Peckinpah slow mo scenes without feeling heavy or inconsistent. THE HEROIN BUSTERS makes for actual a decent double bill. It has less of the punches but a lot more of the envigorating performances and clever landscaping that allow Castellari type of naartive. Such great entertainment. This is his stock and trade brilliance.

What have Arrow given us though?

2 glorious 2K restorations, in 1080p packages. Both have never looked better (or been uncut before). Enzo G. Castellari interviews are the place to start and the best things on both discs. His stacato English is fun and he makes you smile with his, now 80+ years, energy. Then critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint commentaries are great. THE HERION BUSTERS one is more rich, with a lot of detail about Hemmings in Italian cinema but both have enough pound for pound quality to entertain and inform.  The really interesting piece also is Nicola Longo, interview. He is a real cop, talking about the way he informed the making (a lot like Eagan and Grosso did in THE FRENCH CONNECTION). Italian policing was darker and dirtier than the US version, which opens doors to strange realities.

2-Disc Limited Edition Contents:

  • Brand new 2K restorations of both films from the original 35mm camera negatives by Arrow Films
  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentations
  • Original Italian and English front and end titles
  • Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
  • New audio commentaries on both films by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Roberto Curti and Barry Forshaw
  • Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch
  • Twelve double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards

Disc One – The Big Racket:

  • The Years of Racketeering, a new video interview with co-writer/director Enzo G. Castellari
  • Violent Times, a new video interview with actor Fabio Testi
  • Angel Face for a Tough Guy, a new video interview with actor Massimo Vanni
  • King of Movieola, a new video interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci
  • The Great Racket, a new appreciation and career retrospective of composers Guido and Maurizio De Angelis by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery

Disc Two – The Heroin Busters:

  • Endless Pursuit, a new video interview with co-writer/director Enzo G. Castellari
  • Drug Squad, a new video interview with actor Fabio Testi
  • The Drug Dealer, a new video interview with actor Massimo Vanni
  • How They Killed Italian Cinema, a new video interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci
  • A Cop on the Set, a new video interview with retired poliziotto and criminologist Nicola Longo
  • The Eardrum Busters, a new appreciation and career retrospective of composers Goblin by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery

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