Stars – Antonio Sabato, Philippe Leroy, Antonio Casagrande, and Marisa Mell
Director – Umberto-Lenzi
Released by Raro / Kino
Reviewed by Steven Ruskin
Umberto Lenzi gives us an escalating game of tit for tat between two crime bosses in his Gang War in Milan aka Milano Rovente. Antonio Sabato plays Salvatore. He’s got a seventies mack daddy mustache and enough garish slick clothes to fill a small store. He’s got a good thing going with his bevy of prostitutes in Milan. Salvatore has plenty of mustachioed henchmen is bad leisure suits and one dependable right hand man. As the film opens one of his favored girls is found dead in a swimming pool. Then a whole passel of them are kidnapped. We see the girls in a park gathered around burn barrels to keep warm. They are all dressed in that familiar mix of fake fur and stockings that screams I am a working girl to any car that passes with fifty yards. The girls are taken and then released to get Salvatore’s attention.
The other crime boss here is The Captain or Le Capitaine. He is French and he deals smack. Basically he wants to extend his operation into Milan by having Salvatore’s girls offer the drugs to their johns. Forget that the economics of either operation don’t; seem to support the large organizations behind them. Over a polite conversation the captain offers Salvatore a very low percentage to become partners. Salvatore refuses. The bulk of the film is one side taking a running shot at the other and then the response. There are no wild car chases along the narrow streets or scenic highways. Don’t expect any gun battles or shoot outs either. The gang war we see here is strictly you hit one of my girls I hit one of your guys. While none of the violence is portrayed in a particularly graphic way these two men do get carried away. Some of the women are cut across the chest. One girl has acid thrown in her face. Salvatore’s right hand man gets his privates zapped with electric wires.
The two leads play it over the top. The macho posturing and threatening are what these guys are all about. Lenzi is certainly better known for his horror flicks like Cannibal Ferox but he made a few of these gangster crime films, too. The mustaches and outlandish clothes come standard with Italian crime films. The genre usually features some daring car chases and shoot outs but this time the pyrotechnics are between the two big bosses who shove each other’s gangs around. Towards the end there is some clever jockeying for power. Salvatore brings in an expert and falls for a gorgeous lady. That neither of them are what they seem will come as no surprise to fans of any country’s crime films. Gang War in Milan is not one of the greats but is still a fun ride with some amusing performances.
Video – 2.35.1
Colors come off nice and loud and it suits them well. Detail is fine though not strong. That’s very likely due to the original film. The cinemaphotography is not noteworthy. The materials are in very decent shape giving the film a nice outing in general.
Audio- LPCM Mono in English or Italian. Subtitles are offered in English.
The whole thing us dubbed anyway as was the style of filmmaking there then so you never get to hear any voice performances that match the acting. The music in several places toward the end of the film speeds up and slows down causing it to go off pitch and warble at bit. It’s what Paula Abdul used to call getting a bit pitchy on American Idol. You’d think it would but none of this detracts from the film at all. It’s part of the charm and style along with the outrageous suits.
Italian and English trailers. Introduction to the film from Mike Malloy. Mike cleans lots of weapons as he talks. He goes from rifle to knife as he covers the familiar aspects of the genre while pointing out things of note in this film. He knows his stuff and shares it willingly.
On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic
Movie – Good
Blu-Ray – Good / Excellent