Violent City (1975) Poster


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gadflyzzz13 February 2007
This is cheap and nasty film making at its best/worst. Sensational, kamikaziesque car chase sequences featuring Fiat 500s are the highlight of this marvelous time capsule from a raunchier, less precious era. Rome in the mid-70s looks grungy, edgy, poor and downbeat -- the perfect backdrop for this "Spaghetti Noir" homage to Eastwood's Inspector Callahan. The Foley-guy goes crazy during laughably excessive fight sequences, each blow delivered with an sickeningly unreal aural crunch. All manner of brutality is explored without shame or pity; no victim is too vulnerable - from aging female bystanders, to the wheelchair-bound. The acting is by turns wooden and hysterical, the extras either homicidal maniacs or their hapless victims. But the real highlights are the car chases, "exhilarating" doesn't do it justice. "Suicidal" comes close. Then again, having lived here for the past couple of years, it could be just another day in Roma traffic.
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My jaw stayed open from beginning to end
realmovieseeker13 February 2000
Man, Maurizio Merli has topped himself in the this CLASSIC police movie. The movie is about a cop, who is sick and disgusted by the way things are going, the criminals never seem to go to jail, and the bad guys seem to take advantage of the situation. That's where Merli comes in, he beats on them without flinching, his boss doesn't like it, so he kicks out of the force, but the story continues...( I won't give away anything, not even the suprise finally. Anyway, this according to me is a prime example of a classic Italian Pulp/thrash 70's movie. It's complete of old ladies, and children being shot in the face for no reason, rapes, angry people shooting each other in broad daylight. I give 2 thumbs up. You might remember Richard Conte in the movie "the Boss", here he plays a character that seems to have a heart(not a big heart, but at least he has one). Ray lovelock should have won an oscar as best supporting actor, and Maurizio Merli should have won a golden globe award
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Maurizio Merli - Unorthodox Cop in Ultra-Violent Rome
Marino Girolami's "Roma Violenta" aka. "Violent Rome" of 1975 is a good, though not exceptional Poliziottesco that is very memorable for several reasons. This was the first of three films in which Maurizio Merli played the rough and ready copper Commisarrio Betti, the other two being Girolami's own "Italia A Mano Armata" (aka "A Special Cop In Action") 1976, and the great "Napoli Violenta" ("Violent Naples"), also of 1976. This is not the best of the films in which Maurizio Merli played unorthodox cops (of different names, but basically the same character), but it was the first one. The sequel "Napoli Violenta" is superior, and Merli's all-time highlight is "Roma A Mano Armata" (directed by Umberto Lenzi), but "Roma Violenta" is the film that made him one of the greatest stars in Italian Crime/Cop cinema. Furthermore this is the last film ever to star the great Richard Conte known for many films including "The Godfather" and Fernando Di Leo's Italian crime masterpiece "Il Boss" (1973).

As the title promises, the film takes place in Rome, and a violent city it is indeed. Comissario Betti (Maurizio Merli) is a tough, mustached copper whose unorthodox methods make Dirty Harry look quite clean. Betti is fed up with criminals getting away with their crimes, and he expresses his opinion both verbally and by his tough methods of crime-fighting... As most good Poliziotteschi at the time, "Roma Violenta" is very gritty, violent and delightfully politically incorrect. It seems as if Maurizio Merli was born to play super-tough unorthodox cops, and the role of Comissario Betti fits him like a glove. Good supporting performances come from Richard Conte, Ray Lovelock and especially John Steiner, who plays a ruthless criminal. Regular Genre bit-part actor Luciano Rossi is also typecast as a sadistic small-time crook. The film is full of action-packed car chases, violent shootouts and scenes of genre-typical brutality, all stylishly shot and accompanied by a nice score by the De Angelis brothers. As mentioned above "Violent Rome" is no particular highlight of Poliziotto-cinema. It is not quite as stylish as some other specimen of the genre, and it lacks the charismatic and diabolical main villain of films like "Milano Odia - La Polizia Non Può Sparare" (aka. "Almost Human", 1974) or "Roma A Mano Armata". It is a good example for the genre, however, and a highly influential one too, as it basically made Maurizio Merli THE unorthodox copper in Italian cinema. All things considered, "Violent Rome" is a film that I highly recommend to any of my fellow fans of Italian genre-cinema. My rating: 7.5/10
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Betti Blue - 40°3 al mattino
radiobirdma25 July 2016
In autumn 1974, High Crime was a monster hit for the Italian movie industry, but neither superstar Franco Nero nor director Enzo G. Castellari were available for a follow-up cash-in. So the producer of Roma Violenta rang up Maurizio Merli, who had already impersonated Nero in the Jack London rip-off White Fang to the Rescue, and teamed him up with Castellari's papa (!) Marino Girolami. The first part of the Commissario Betti trilogy, a fierce and ferocious vigilante opera, has the rawest, most unleashed feel of the remorseless triptych – followed by the bigger budgeted, slicker and more generic Napoli Violenta and the utterly bleak Italia a Mano Armata – and delivers all the nasty way to hell, culminating quite early in a high class car chase involving an Alfa Romeo Giulia Super 1600 and a BMW 1800. Despite the loose, vignette-esque script by Vincenzo Mannino, Roma Violenta is spot-on throughout, with Merli – who actually considered himself superior to Nero – doing his Italian job with a somber, easy-to-underestimate bravura that serves as the single anchor in the widening gyre of the inferno. Sure, that's crypto-fascist dirt, a shame for a country that got rid of the Duce only three decades before, the most successful poliziottesco ever, and a tightly entertaining affair summarized best in the timeless words of N.Y. punk rockers Ed Gein's Car: "I've got five dollars for each of you/ And a bullet in the back/ Boo f*ckin' hoo."
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Commissioner Betti vs. the scum of the earth!
Coventry28 January 2015
Forgive me the immoral and perhaps even inappropriate comparison, but watching a good Poliziotteschi movie from the '70s is like taking the best drug that exists! It's the sensation of one and a half hour adrenalin rushing, all your body's blood getting pumped to the heart at high speed and a delirium in your brains! When I watch a Poliziotteschi flick, and if it's a good one, I always feel revitalized and ablaze afterwards. "Roma Violenta" certainly isn't the greatest movie of its kind, and nearly not even the best Maurizio Merli movie, but even the slightly-less-than-stellar Poliziotteschi efforts are absolute must-sees for cult fanatics and so is this one! "Roma Violenta" is the first entry in a trilogy revolving on protagonist Commissioner Betti. But don't pay too much attention to the chronological order and details of these three separate movies. Personally I watched the first film last it didn't matter one bit. Betti is the only recurring character in the series, but furthermore there is no continuity whatsoever and some actors (like John Saxon and Luciano Rossi) even depict different characters in two different movies. Commissioner Betti is a tough and unorthodox cop in Rome. His heart bleeds as he witnesses how the city streets are infested with criminals and particularly how they always become more violent and relentless due to weak legislations and cunning lawyers. There are pointless assassinations on public buses, bloody bank robberies, supermarket heists, vicious rapes, unhappily ending hostage takings and even police officer annihilation. Betti's pursuing methods are efficient but very borderline, and he regularly comes into conflict with his superiors. When Betti shoots a bank robber in cold blood, after a bloody wild car chase with several casualties including his young partner, he finally loses his cop badge. He isn't unemployed for long, though, as he joins an elite vigilante squad where he can carelessly beat nasty villains' faces to pulp! Hooray! Admittedly the plots of nearly all Poliziotteschi movies are always the same, and you always know they'll feature mandatory car chases, gratuitous nudity and shocking images of innocent people (like nice old ladies or teenagers) getting slaughtered. But the vile truth is that you simply cannot wait to see it happen! Once again the highlight here is a virulent chase, with plenty of awesome Fiat and Simca cars going in severe overdrive, and a few deaths that are almost too brutal to describe (that poor hostage!). "Roma Violenta" doesn't feature such a good soundtrack as usually the case, but acting performances are truly top-notch this time. Maurizio "moustache" Merli is terrific, of course, but there are also great supportive performances from Ricard Conte, Ray Lovelock and John Steiner.
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Not outstanding, but well worth seeing.
The_Void21 June 2007
Violent Rome doesn't do anything that a whole load of other Italian crime flicks didn't do before it, but in true genre style - it's highly entertaining and the fact that director Marino Girolami is merely rethreading old ground doesn't matter too much since its old ground worth treading again! There are a number of things that I watch these films for, and violent Rome has most of them - those being car chases, gun fights, fist fights and good old' fashioned grit, and the fact that this film delivers all those things in a robust and unflinching manner means that it pretty much hit the spot. The plot, as the title suggests, focuses on various criminal and violent acts in the city of Rome (all the Italian cities seem to have been pretty violent in the seventies...). Commissario Betti is sick of the way that criminals can (literally) get away with murder because of the rules and regulations that govern the police force. It's inevitable that he would be kicked out, and pretty soon he is after shooting a criminal. However, there's a bunch of citizens who aren't too happy about crime either, and they gladly take him in.

The film takes obvious influence from Dirty Harry (like most Italian cop flicks) as the idea of a fed up high ranking police officer figures heavily, and here it works well because the film stars the excellent Maurizio Merli, who goes round beating up criminals in style and really does himself proud with his role here. The style of the film is gritty and dirty, and this reflects well considering the subject material. Naturally, the plot is nothing to write home about and it's clear that the director was more interested in entertaining the audience than putting on a show with any meaning - but that is fine with me! This does mean that we never really have any reason to care, even when the "emotion" surrounding one of the leading characters comes up. Violent Rome, like the later Violent Naples (also starring Maurizio Marli in the same role!) has more than it's fair share of cheese too...but somehow that sort of stuff goes well with the rest of the film. On the whole, Violent Rome may not be one of the best Italian crimes films of all time - but it's a good one and I doubt that fans of these films will regret seeing it!
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Aint there a guy I can sock on the jaw?
Bezenby14 June 2018
A crippled guy in a wheelchair getting beaten by two jerks. Three schoolchildren gunned down in front of some nuns. Massimo Vanni hoofing Luciano Rossi in the nuts over and over again. Welcome to Violent Rome, where the moustaches are thick, the cars as brittle as poppadoms, and the general public certainly doomed.

Rome in 1975 is a filthy hovel full of bagsnatchers, conmen, bank robbers, hustlers, pickpockets, rapists, psychopaths, murderers and bawbags running riot while cop Maurizio watches in horror, almost helpless as there's only so many criminals one man can either shoot or punch in the jaw. He does have some help, however, in the form of undercover cop Ray Lovelock. And some guy who dresses up as an old lady to catch bagsnatchers, but don't get hung up on that as it has nothing to do with the rest of the film.

When Maurizio pops a cap in a particularly violent criminals ass, he ends up quitting his job as a violent policeman and starts working as a violent vigilante instead, which makes him even more violent and rage-filled. In fact, this film has so much violence, car chases, and member of the public killing that it leaves almost no time to have any kind of plot at all. Not that I was caring!

Out of the cast of regulars who keep showing up in these sorts of films for the next decade, John Steiner stands out the most as an evil bank robber who'll shoot anyone in his way. He always makes a great bad guy, and he's backed up by rapist Luciano Rossi and violent vigilante Massimo Vanni too. Richard Conte is a good guy in this one, and sadly, this is also his last film, as he died of a heart attack in 1975.

Completely lacking in style, good acting, or plausibility, Violent Rome makes an ideal addition to your collection as it's full of all the other stuff you want in a film called Violent Rome.
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Bit rough round the edges
christopher-underwood16 November 2013
Bit rough round the edges but full on all action with super central performance from Maurizio Merli. Tough, uncompromising and definitely politically incorrect, this barely pauses for breath as our hero takes on the young baddies of 70s Rome. Pretty shabby old Rome it looks to be too but I seem to recall London wasn't much better around that time.

There are probably a few too many fist fights and beatings but some are most effective and the central car chase was magnificent, and I'm not a real fan of them. Gritty, ruthless and unstoppable, like the main film itself. There is even time for a sleazy episode when a daughter enters the scene at the wrong time. The robberies are mainly all low key, handbags, shops and the like but there is no mention of the mafia here so maybe they kept a hold of all the big stuff.
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agreed, this movie is AWESOME!
dogcow17 May 2001
great film, with merli as an inspector seemingly constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown of some kind, although that may just be his acting style. The film is very bleak and has a hopeless and depressing tone to it. The use of famous italian landmarks in rome as a backdrop gives it a real interesting visual look which is good considering Girolami doesn't really know how to move the camera in an interesting fasion. Overall I enjoyed this movie on the first viewing, and more on the second! I also own the soundtrack CD which is quite good if you like that sort of thing
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A great portion of delicious and nutritious grindhouse salad with loads of bloodily-red tomato sauce
m-sendey4 May 2013
Commissioner Betti (Maurizio Merli), upon beholding a motivelessly slaughtered boy on a bus robbed by some thugs, vows to find the murderers, punish them for what they did, but also appease his desire of vengeance entailed by the demise of his brother who was killed in familiar circumstances. The violence begins to expand in the whole Rome…

It is virtually inescapable to succumb to this wonderfully pulpy film which is filled with ruggedly crafted action sequences and swift pace. No wonder why it was a huge commercial success on the day of its premiere and Maurizio Merli became a star. Notwithstanding, but for the neat direction by Girolami, it would not have been so effective since the script itself is not anything specific, invariably appears disjointed and towards the end the ensemble is not even concerned about clarifying why another outburst of violence embarks on. Likewise, the material lacks a strong antagonist who could emerge out of the shady streets of Rome and eventually face Betti. Another element which might not be utterly engaging is a socio-political commentary on the situation in the Italy which feels a sort of out of place and somehow contrasts with the mindlessly action-packed remainder of the flick. Instead of pushing the boundaries of pastime into the same directions as unabashedly entertaining Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1975) by Ruggero Deodato, it aspires higher, but it's impossible to render something serious, if it's basically this kind of actionier. Thus, making allowances for those aspects, Girolami allows it all to flow and generally focuses on shootouts and fistfights, on account of which obtains an imposingly electrifying atmosphere reminiscent of a collage consisting of gliding bullets, enormous squibs and outstanding Merli ceaselessly ready to utilize his gun in the midst. The simplicity of rendition is one of the biggest benefits of this motion picture that makes it all so compelling. The best moment of Violent Rome might be the car chase when commissioner Betti pursues one of the villains played by John Steiner. The climax is so stimulating that one is capable of smelling exhaust fumes as well as the reek of burnt tyres. The execution is superb – the editing is sharp, but it never distracts and one is likely to agree that it's an extraordinarily riveting scene which stays in one's mind.

Maurizio Merli is very strong as commissioner Betti. He conveys a lot of charisma to his character as well as succeeds in creating a respectable and tough cop, the one who a delinquent wouldn't like to deal with. Ray Lovelock plays an undercover policeman who invariably comes in handy and provides Betti with multiple indispensable pieces of information. He is quite likable and believable in his role as a young, smug blonde. There are also numerous faces which all film buffs keen on Euro-cult cinema are familiar with. The soundtrack by Guido & Maurizio de Angelis is absolutely terrific and it's difficult to conceive another composer who could be able to replace this duo. Brothers de Angelis, grasping the point of the movie and their task as musicians, compose a fast, aggressive and catchy soundtrack which contextualises with this action flick phenomenally.

While certainly imperfect, Violent Rome is well-paced, ruggedly crafted and stunningly scored. It serves its purpose perfectly and it's genuinely hard to remain indifferent to its charm. Though it structurally isn't the most impressive work of all time, it's a great portion of delicious and nutritious grindhouse salad with loads of bloodily-red tomato sauce which is bound to leave its viewers satisfied.
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By no means a polizioto classic, but completists will enjoy it
chaos-rampant10 June 2008
I think my fellow reviewers are overstating things a bit. Roma Violenta is by no means a bad movie, but it does nothing any number of poliziotteschi films can't do better and it doesn't impress with what it does either.

Maurizio Merli plays another inspector, this time Commisarrio Betti. There's a healthy number of car chases, fistfights, gundowns and just about anything you would expect from a film of this kind, but it's all done with such a workmanlike air from Marino Girolami (Castellari's father) that I couldn't help but glance at my watch every now and then. Girolami does Roma Violenta with the get-it-over-with attitude of a professional instead of the enthusiasm of a fan. Get in, take the master shot, take the close-ups, get it over with cos there's a paycheck in the end. No imagination whatsoever. I can imagine him on set crossing things off a list: "Car chase? Check. Fistfight? Check".

Polizioto fans that need their fix will be satisfied by Roma Violenta, but if you haven't seen true genre classics like The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist, Almost Human or La Mala Ordina, then Roma Violenta can wait.
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VIOLENT ROME (Marino Girolami, 1975) **
Bunuel197624 August 2006
The first in a poliziottesco trilogy featuring Maurizio Merli as Commissioner Betti; the first and last entries were directed by Girolami under the alias of Franco Martinelli and the second by Umberto Lenzi.

As such, this one certainly set the template for the others: its plot involves a gang of crooks who commit four armed robberies throughout the course of the film (from a bus, a supermarket, a restaurant and a bank) - where the culprits, sloppily, contrive to always leave behind a victim - which sends the iconoclastic cop (obviously inspired by Clint Eastwood's Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan) on their trail. The action sequences - which also take in several beatings, a rape (committed in front of the girl's ageing father) and car chases - are certainly capably staged which, propelled by a pounding score from Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (better known as "Oliver Onions"), give the film an unrelenting pace that ensures it never slips into boredom despite its being predictable at every turn!

The second half, however, is quite interesting: Merli quits the force after shooting a hood (John Steiner) in 'cold-blood' - apparently, it little matters to his superiors that the latter had done the same to undercover cop and Merli protégé Ray Lovelock, who remains paralyzed for life! - but is called into 'service' for a different kind of justice by a small band of former victims, led by lawyer Richard Conte, who have turned vigilante!!
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Dream come true
bevo-136782 April 2020
The only thing I love more than a good car chase movie is a good fighting move. Violent Rome is both. Nothing but fighting and car chases
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The end of one actor's career, the beginning of two others.
Aylmer3 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Richard Conte signed out on a relatively high note on this not-too- bad Italian cop film quickly put together as a spiritual sequel to 1973's LA POLIIZIA INCRIMINA LA LEGGE ASSOLVE. The producers couldn't get Franco Nero or Enzo G. Castellari to come back so instead what they did was hire Nero's lookalike Maurizio Merli and Castellari's father Marino Girolami to direct. On top of that, they brought back genre regulars Silvano Tranquilli, Massimo Vanni, etc. as well as Guido and Maurizio De Angelis to score (often relying on music tracks taken right out of LA POLIZIA). This would not be the only Eurocrime movie to do this.

As relatively cheap and rough as this movie feels with plenty of awkward scenes and barely a plot to speak of, this movie is notable for 3 big points:

1) Maurizio Merli. Merli could have just been a cookie-cutter fill- in for Franco Nero but very much makes it his own with a new definition for "physicality". Merli's first act upon entering frame is to clench his jaw and grind his teeth standing over a poor homicide victim. From then on out it's hell to pay as Merli shoots, beats, foot-chases, and car-chases his way through the criminal underground with dogged determination. It's a formula that worked so well that he repeated it about a dozen times in the following 5 years... usually with Attilio Duse as his clueless loyal sidekick.

2) The car chase! While there were a lot of great ones in the genre, the chase in this film I find the most deliciously entertaining. It takes us through the streets, parks, and highways of Rome, gloriously destroying several cars, a flower stand, a random pile of freeway debris, and several innocent bystanders before it ends. The first crash of the chase is a particular delight, spinning in circles with glass and metal flying in all directions.

3) John Steiner. This film also gave the fledgling British character actor a whole new career by casting him in a small but extremely memorable part as a particularly violent and snarky bank-robber. While Steiner had already had a few memorable villain roles, he said that this film changed the game for him like no other, and secured him nonstop work for the following 15 years. He's hilarious, mischievous, and ultimately frightening in the second of the film's two career-defining roles.

Even if you're a casual fan of the genre, I'd recommend you give this film a try. It represented a paradigm-shift unlike any other film in the genre and set the table nicely for Umberto Lenzi's several subsequent contributions.
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An early highlight of the Italian polizia genre
Leofwine_draca27 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The film that launched Maurizio Merli's tough police inspector into the limelight is a thrill-a-minute story of cobs and robbers done in the inimitable Italian style. Sure, the plot is light and episodic, but who cares when your film contains action as cool as it is here? Even to genre fans, Merli's crime films all look and feel the same, but VIOLENT ROME being the first seems even more polished and professional than most. Director Marino Girolami invests the film with plenty of style, cool exciting music, some of the finest genre actors around, and places hard-edged action at the centre of the film.

Never has a movie lived up to its title so well, as this film contains some of the most brutal violence you will ever see. Innocent bystanders are bloodily gunned down by criminals, men slug it out with killer blows and sharp slaps to the faces which look like they really hurt, ferocious men shoot each other with guns and machine guns in broad daylight and turn each other into Swiss cheese as a result. The film goes really over-the-top as it tries to shock the viewer as much as possible in some moments. "Highlights" include a crippled man in a wheelchair being beaten to within an inch of his life, an innocent lady being stripped and raped, and a thug opening fire on a park full of happy people and mowing them down from a passing car.

Meanwhile, Maurizio Merli - who, after the international success of this movie, found himself typecast in such productions for years to come, always playing exactly the same part (his name would sometimes change but never his character) - goes gunning for the criminals, engaging them in hand-to-hand combat, shoot-outs, and exciting car chases which really show off the excellent Rome location photography. Sometimes he just shoots them in the back to be sure. The strong supporting cast includes veteran Richard Conte as the leader of a vigilante group which Merli joins, Ray Lovelock as an undercover friend of Merli's who gets machine gunned during an exciting bank raid, and John Steiner as a suave English villain who is coincidentally dubbed by the same guy who did Lovelock's voice in THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE.

The photography is crisp and fluid at all moments and the film has superb pacing which never lets up until the bizarre ending, which you have to admit is pretty offbeat (as is the case in a number of Italian productions). Girolami's excellent direction is what makes this movie so good, and although the plot twists and turns and many characters come and go, VIOLENT ROME retains a relative simplicity which makes it so watchable. Fans looking for a traditional game of cops-and-robbers played out in some authentic Italian locations should check out this movie as one of the highlights of the Italian polizia genre.
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Violent and tough Eurocrime.
HumanoidOfFlesh25 December 2010
Criminal violence in Rome is increasing due to weak legislation and unscrupulous layers.The old methods are no use anymore...they are antiquated.So it's up to Inspector Betti(Maurizio Merli)to fight the rising crime.Thugs are everywhere:robbing,shooting,murdering and raping innocent victims."Roma Violenta" is an exciting slay ride full of nihilistic characters and outrageous violence.The direction by Marino Girolami of "Zombi Holocaust" fame is tight and effective,the car chase scene is mind-blowing and the soundtrack is pretty mellow.Maurizio Merli was so believable in the role that he went on to reprise it in many times before his death in 1989.A must-see for fans of Italian cult cinema.8 out of 10.
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Typically banal, colourless poliziotteschi
jadavix16 June 2016
"Violent City" is a poliziotteschi that suffers from all of the usual problems of that particular genre. It's colourless, boring film-making that fails to distinguish characters from each other, or make us take notice of plot details.

The film is an endless series of muggings and robberies which, as in most (all?) poliziotteschi, only serve to remind you of how desperate the film-makers are to depict a titular "violent city". They are too stagy and over the top to succeed at this, though. The violence itself, particularly all the beatings, is so unrealistic you constantly have to tell yourself you're supposed to be watching someone being hurt, because it sure doesn't feel like they really are.

The movie has no memorable characters; the only reason why the main character stands out is because he is blonde.

It does have two memorable scenes: in one, some guys are riding in a car and spot a criminal on a motorbike. They tell him to pull up closer to them so that they can tell him something, and when he does, they shove him in front of an oncoming truck.

In another, a woman is stripped naked in front of her father, apparently in preparation for a rape that isn't shown on screen. This is the movie's only nudity, and there's no sex in it.

This is also called the most violent poliziotteschi, which is ridiculous. In no way is its violence worse than the likes of Fulci's "Contraband", or the lurid "Ricco: The Mean Machine".

So it doesn't even stand out for that, or anything else.
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