In 1978 twenty million dollars was stolen from a bank in Detroit. Only one of the robbers was caught, another died and the third vanished without a trace. Twenty years later, Joe Garret (Richard Liberty), the imprisoned thief, is released from his Miami jail only to turn up dead in an alley mere hours later. Athletic FBI agent Doug Bennet (Terence Hill) is convinced the murderer was the elusive third man. He is obsessed with solving the one case he and his partner, big, burly strongman Steve Forest (Bud Spencer) could not crack. Steve quit the bureau because they would not let him bash bad guys to a pulp to become a mildly successful flight instructor but Doug tricks him into coming back. Posing as Miami beat cops named Jay Donell and L.A. Wray, for reasons none too clear, the dynamic duo try to ferret out a sneaky, powerful and well-connected crook who has a seven year start on them.
Never let it be said Bruno Corbucci did not study his source material. Miami Supercops kicks off with a cod-Miami Vice montage of bikini girls, gun-toting cops, big haired rock bands, rollerskating parrots (?) and those ubiquitous flamingos complete with pounding disco score. Alas, the movie itself proves dishearteningly sedate. After a near twenty year run of hits, Miami Supercops put a hiatus on the popular screen partnership of Italian action-comedy icons Terence Hill (real name: Mario Girotti) and Bud Spencer (a.k.a. Carlo Pedersoli) until their brief reunion in Troublemakers (1994) a.k.a. The Fight Before Christmas, a nostalgic comedy western Hill directed himself. Both men continued solo careers but never achieved the same level of international success from their heyday.
Of course Hill and Spencer patrolled the streets of Miami before in the very popular Crime Busters (1977) and played cops several times though more often as rogues who went into law enforcement with some ulterior motive only to end up upstanding policemen. By contrast, Miami Supercops has a far more convoluted set-up (FBI agents pose as cops - huh?) and, unusually for a Hill and Spencer vehicle, takes a stab at crafting a complex plot where the boys try to solve an honest to goodness mystery, deciphering clues and everything! This unexpected attempt at complexity might have something to do with the screenwriting input of Luciano Vincenzoni. One of Italian cinema's most in-demand script-doctors, Vincenzoni is credited with conceiving the plot of Sergio Leone's seminal spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). He also wrote cult favourite Death Rides a Horse (1967), Orca the Killer Whale (1977) and more mainstream fare like the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Raw Deal (1986), John Candy comedy-mystery Once Upon a Crime (1992) directed by Eugene Levy and Giuseppe Tornatore's wartime drama Maléna (2000) starring molto bellissima Monica Bellucci.
Nevertheless in spite of Vincenzoni's efforts the intent to spice things up proves half-hearted at best. Corbucci's stolid direction fails to enliven the pedestrian antics. Things amble along in dull, predictable and dishearteningly formulaic fashion. Terence is still the wily trickster (introduced posing as a shop window dummy to nab armed robbers!), Bud the one-man army with a short fuse. There are the familiar slap-happy brawls, another camp cameo from Buffy Dee as a fey motel manager, encounters with outrageously garbed street thugs that look like escapees from Michael Jackson's Beat It video, and a cartoonish vision of America informed by westerns (a Native American character refers to the duo as "Custer's boys"), MTV and old cop shows. Amazonian lady trucker Annabel (Rhonda S. Lundstead) draws Bud's eye in her Daisy Dukes while a weak running gag has Terence keep trying to guess where he met glamorous undercover informant Irene (Jackie Castellano) before, but the leads still come across like overgrown kids who love a good punch-up or practical joke, get sentimental about friendship and flustered around women.
Compared with the wittier, more energetic antics in Go For It (1983) and Double Trouble (1984) the action comes across stale and outdated, unable to compete with high stakes Hollywood fare. At least the climax picks up the pace a little with guns blazing, mass electrocution ("Talk about a shocking moment"), exploding cans of tomato soup and Bud slapping bad guys into next week. It is also worth mentioning the disco soundtrack composed by La Bionda, one of Italy's foremost dance acts of the Seventies. Sing-along with that crazy chorus: "Duran's on the run and you don't think it's fun. The lemon has been squeezed. Better go call the police!"
Italian director who worked in most genres over a forty year career, Corbucci is best known for the Nico Giraldi series of police thrillers, starring Tomas Milian and starting with 1976's Cop in Blue Jeans. Also wrote or co-wrote over 120 films, the most notable of which was Django, directed by his brother Sergio Corbucci.