Newest Reviews
Dreams on Fire
Sing as We Go!
Burnt Orange Heresy, The
Craft Legacy, The
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
  Special Cop in Action, A Bye-bye Betti
Year: 1976
Director: Marino Girolami
Stars: Maurizio Merli, Raymond Pellegrin, John Saxon, Mirella D'Angelo, Toni Ucci, Daniele Dublino, Sergio Fiorentini, Franco Borelli, Dino Mattieli, Rocco Oppedisano, Carlo Valli, Marcello Monti, Massimo Vanni, Fortunato Arena, Enzo Andronico
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Now patrolling the crime-ridden streets of Turin, slap-happy seasoned cop Inspector Betti (Maurizio Merli) and his counting-down-the-days-till-retirement partner Arpino (Raymond Pellegrin) intervene in a violent bank robbery. Only to be outwitted when a woman taken hostage to cover the thieves' escape turns out to be in cahoots with the gang. Whilst dealing with this mess Betti is called on to tackle another crime when armed thugs kidnap a bus load of screaming children. After the kidnapping takes a tragic turn Betti suspects the mastermind behind this heinous affair was crime kingpin Albertelli (John Saxon) and sets out to entrap the outwardly respectable businessman. Even as Italy's crumbling infrastructure, relentless crime and corruption leave Betti increasingly disillusioned with law enforcement.

A Special Cop in Action (released in its native Italy as Italia a Mano Armata) concludes the poliziotteschi trilogy preceded by Marino Girolami's Violent Rome (1975) and Umberto Lenzi's fan favourite Violent Naples (1976). Nevertheless macho moustachioed genre icon Maurizio Merli swiftly returned in more films, including other trilogies, where his crime-busting cop characters were indistinguishable from the righteously indignant Inspector Betti. As conclusions go the final entry in the trilogy wraps things up on a sour note. Its tone is one of simmering despair. Surrounded by fellow officers either retiring, dying or giving in to the hopeless state of things, Betti endures abuse from angry parents, slingshots from the press, stifling bureaucratic red tape and, of course, the remorseless brutality of heartless criminal scum. The film makes it clear that Betti, much like the Italian public, is sick of dealing with it all yet sees no end in sight.

Unfortunately frustration and impotence make up the one peg Girolami, here directing under the pseudonym Franco Martinelli, hammers relentlessly into the ground. More often than not Betti is stymied by cunning criminals, a broken legal system or sheer bad luck. Absent this time around are those cathartic moments for the audience when Betti unleashes a round of righteous fury on the bad guys. Despite a handful of half-hearted fist-fights and by-numbers car chases, A Special Cop in Action is much lower on rip-roaring action and wild stunt work compared to the earlier entries. The other staple ingredient of the genre: sleaze is present as kidnapper Mancuso (Sergio Fiorentini) takes a break from terrorizing kids to try to rape a passing lady cyclist, although the misogyny quotient is pleasingly low for a change. However the attempt at a romantic subplot between Betti and the grieving sister (Mirella D'Angelo) of one child victim falls flat. It is meant to be affecting, offering Betti an avenue out of a seemingly futile crusade as a cop, but so broadly played and sentimental it comes off as campy and shrill instead.

Elsewhere John Saxon slips ably into the stock genre role of phantom American bogeyman behind the Italian crime wave, contrasted with Betti's more easygoing relationship with petty local criminals like the pickpocket who proves an invaluable ally. Saxon brings welcome personality to an otherwise colourless cross-section of villains but the disjointed plot is less involving than the admittedly circuitous but livelier narratives of earlier films. Indeed the whole child kidnap thread is only barely connected to the main thrust of the plot concerning Betti's ongoing feud with Albertelli. Which takes a turn after Albertelli frames Betti for murder and the latter is imprisoned alongside thugs he himself convicted ("Wait till we get you in the showers"). None of this really goes anywhere and the third act further complicates matters by introducing yet another villain who then goes gunning for Albertelli.

Interestingly in place of the ambiguously "romantic" finale that capped off most prints, some versions of the film feature an alternate or what some might call an Alain Delon ending (c.f. Le Samurai (1967), Tony Arzenta (1973), Three Men to Kill (1980)). Some Euro-crime fans find its nihilistic tone more befits the grim sense of futility that defines the overall movie even if it is at odds with Merli's gung-ho heroics in the previous two films. Music by Franco Micalizzi that later found its way to the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 284 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Marino Girolami  (1914 - 1994)

Italian director who over a 40-year career dabbled in most genres - like many of his fellow countrymen, his film-making choices were informed by whatever was popular in Hollywood at the time, from historical epics to westerns, sex comedies to action. Girolami frequently used the pseudonym Frank Martin for international releases, and is best known by horror fans for his hilarious 1979 gorefest Zombie Holocaust. Father of the equally prolific Enzo G. Castellari, and a European boxing champion in his pre-film career.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan


Last Updated: