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  Colt .38 Special Squad Extreme methods get extreme results
Year: 1976
Director: Massimo Dallamano
Stars: Marcel Bozzuffi, Carole André, Ivan Rassimov, Riccardo Salvino, Giancarlo Bonuglia, Fabrizio Capucci, Francesco Ferracini, Daniel Gabbai, Antonio Marsina, Ezio Miani, Giancarlo Sisti, Franco Garofalo, Eolo Capritti, Dino Emanuelli, Armando Brancia
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: In crime-ridden Seventies Turin dogged Inspector Vanni (Marcel Bozzuffi) leads a police raid that turns into a bloody shootout with an armed gang led by a criminal mastermind known as the Black Angel (Ivan Rassimov). When Vanni kills the Black Angel's brother the ruthless mobster retaliates by murdering Vanni's wife in front of their young son. He then disappears leaving the cop a broken man. Years later the Black Angel resurfaces with a plan to plant explosive devices around Turin and hold the city to ransom for ten-million dollars. Only now Vanni heads a special squad of crack-shot stunt-biker cops that shoot first and ask questions later.

Sadly after completing this poliziotteschi thriller talented cinematographer-turned-director Massimo Dallamano died in an car accident. Best known for his schoolgirls-in-peril themed giallo trilogy (What Have You Done to Solange? (1971), What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1972) and Red Rings of Fear (1978)) and glossy sexploitation films (e.g. Venus in Furs (1970), Dorian Gray (1970)), Dallamano made two Euro-crime movies: the wildly eccentric Super Bitch (1973), which also stars the saturnine Ivan Rassimov, and Colt .38 Special Squad which shares plot elements in common with star Marcel Bozzuffi's later hit Stunt Squad (1977). Bozzuffi was cemented in the popular imagination as an instant icon of Euro-crime thanks to the frankly spoiler-ific poster for The French Connection (1971). Here however he plays the hero in a cop thriller that echoes themes found in the Clint Eastwood classic Magnum Force (1973) though also prevalent in many poliziotteschi films like Street Law (1974), Violent Naples (1976) and The Big Racket (1976).

The multi-authored screenplay, which includes input from Dallamano, draws a few uncomfortable parallels between the trigger-happy cops and real government-sanctioned death squads active in Europe and Latin America around this time. Yet the film consistently struggles to make up its mind as to whether we are meant to view them as tragic heroes or gung-ho, morally dubious idiots given they repeatedly fail to save innocent lives. Questions about police ethics and transparency are raised then frustratingly given short shrift while the press are portrayed as one-note ghouls. As the tit-for-tat brutality escalates (in a wince-inducing scene: one crook gets his fingers sliced off by a car door) Colt .38 Special Squad conveys some sense of a futile cycle of rage and revenge that entraps cops and criminals alike with helpless ordinary folks caught in the crossfire. A subplot sees the Black Angel take advantage of his right-hand man Guido's (Antonio Marsina) relationship with glamorous nightclub owner Sandra (Carole André) to use her as an unwitting stooge. In the time-honoured tradition of misogynistic Italian crime films Sandra predictably suffers a great deal abuse before making her exit. Interestingly the film registers far more emotion over the fate of second-string cop characters like Nico (Riccardo Salvino) despite portraying them for the most part as smarmy, cocksure and amoral.

For the most part action and suspense override any potent social commentary. Dallamano maintains a blistering pace. He employs a lot of effective hand-held tracking shots as the near-suicidal stunt team pull off spectacular chase sequences. By contrast the film's abundant dodgy disco dance scenes are nowhere near as well choreographed. Look out for a young Grace Jones lip-synching away at Sandra's nightclub.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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