Now Judge Daryl Loomis is thirsty for some J&B.
Now that's what I call Little Chicago.
When it's time for a movie and trying to think of what sounds good, what often comes to mind is the thought that something cheap and sleazy is probably in order. With that, my mind often travels over to Italy and their wonderfully puerile genre cinema. Now, I'm more of a horror guy myself, but I'll take a good actioner when I can get it, especially when it's directed by one of the kings of sleaze, Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox). Gang War in Milan definitely isn't the man's best work, nor his sleaziest, but as expected, it gets the job done.
Salvatore "Toto" Cangemi (Antonio Sabato, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids) runs a produce stand by day and the prostitute trade by night. Constant harassment from the cops is one thing, but now a rival French gang, led by Daverty (Philippe Leroy, The Night Porter), wants a cut of his action, as well as force him into the heroin trade, to boot. As he resists, a war escalates between the two gangs that could bring everything down on top of them.
Gang War in Milan is just about the most basic example of an Italian crime movie you'll find, with every piece of the puzzle appearing at some point, at least. Not car chases so much, but there is genital mutilation, so I think it all evens out. Lenzi had a thing for that kind of stuff, but it isn't nearly as unpleasant as some of his later feats. He's relatively restrained, but there's no question about its exploitative nature. That's why we come to see it, and he gets the job done just fine.
The story's pretty fun, with a series of escalating deadly pranks between Toto and his gang. Oddly, Toto doesn't really seem to have a gang, just a single confidant and a bunch of waify prostitutes. I'm not sure how he thinks he has any leverage over the French gang, but it keeps stuff moving at a pretty nice clip.
The one thing that brings Gang War in Milan down is its lead in Antonio Sabato, who is not the charismatic lead that one wants from something like this. Toni Franciosa this man is not and, while it doesn't help that Lenzi expects us to root for a pimp, somebody who didn't come off like such a jerk would have worked a little better.
Gang War in Milan is average exploitation, but its general nastiness and swift-moving story make it a worthwhile production. It's strictly for genre fans, but they'll enjoy it just fine. This is what Raro Video is known for and they deliver once again.
Gang War in Milan arrives to Blu-ray in a release typical of Raro. The 2.35:1/1080p image transfer is a little soft, but not too bad. There's still plenty of fine detail, very strong colors, and nearly no damage, plus this era of Italian movies all look a little soft, so it looks as good as it probably can. The PCM 2.0 stereo track comes in both Italian and English versions, so viewers have their choice. They sound pretty much identical, with clear dialog and well-balanced music.
Extras are unfortunately scant, with only an introduction on Mike Malloy, who is making a documentary about Italian crime movies. He's been on these releases before and his information is always valid, but he records it himself and he has a really weird editing style that is sort of irritating. There's a brief essay as liner booklet, but that's it.
There are way better Italian crime movies out there, but Gang War in Milan is a perfectly adequate way to scratch that itch. Neither as violent nor as depraved as his work to come later, this is still a good example of what Lenzi could do with limited time and money, which is a lot better than some.
It is what it is. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Raro Video
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