Judge Brett Cullum explains that the title of this film is Italian for "the scorta."
Protection is the job. Justice is the goal. Death is the price.
La Scorta was released in 1993, and walked away with several Italian Oscars that year. Based on a true story, the film touched a nerve in Italy which was knee deep in a "clean hands" campaign to come to terms with the Mafia and how to break its power in their country. The director, Ricky Tognazzi, was highly praised for bringing this tale of five common men bravely taking on Sicilian corruption to life. But La Scorta may have a harder time playing outside of its home country. A lot of the story hinges on the viewer having an understanding of Italian culture and politics; without a thorough knowledge of the setting, it will be hard to see the film as anything more than a tight interesting police drama.
La Scorta is set in the town of Trapani, Sicily, where a local judge and his bodyguard have been brutally murdered for probing a Mafia issue. Local police officer Angelo Mandolesi (Claudio Amendola) is assigned to be the chief bodyguard for the new judge, Michele de Francesco (Carlo Cecchi). Mandolesi is joined by fellow reluctant bodyguards Andrea Corsale (Enrico Lo Verso), Fabio Muzzi (Ricky Memphis), and Raffaele Frasca (Tony Sperandeo). These four men have been ordered to protect Judge de Francesco, but are woefully under-equipped with unreliable cars, a strict ration of gas, and only two bullet-proof vests to share among the four of them. As the Judge pursues an investigation concerning the Mafia's control of the water in Trapani, blatant threats against his life begin. Soon all five men find themselves being targeted by the public, the press, and the Sicilian Mafia. Can they all survive long enough to uncover the truth?
La Scorta is an intense portrait of machismo; square-jawed men setting out to do what's right under impossible odds. Fans of films like The Godfather or The Untouchables will appreciate it the most, but will find the film ultimately a little too watered down and small in scope to match up to those high octane thrillers. Blue Underground's packaging for the film, with its blood splattered cover, and violent images on the back, is a little misleading. This is not your usual "shoot-em-up" action flick. It's a quiet drama that asks the viewer to fill in a lot of blanks. It really has only a handful of violent scenes. The real thrust of the story revolves around characters put in a dangerous situation and how they handle it. For soundtrack enthusiasts, this film is another excellent example of what Italian master composer Ennio Morricone does best. Most of the tension in the film is a direct result of his efforts.
Blue Underground provides a nice package full of extras that illuminate what the film is about, and in that they have done an outstanding job with La Scorta. The anamorphic widescreen transfer is clear enough, even though there is an ever-present wash of grain throughout. They provide an engaging five channel surround mix, as well as a nice stereo option. The English subtitles are optional, so Italian speakers can enjoy the film without the translation crawling along the bottom of the screen. There is a twenty-five minute behind-the-scenes featurette, in Italian and English, which examines the genesis and production of the project. The commentary by director Ricky Tognazzi and producer Claudio Bonivento is in English, and delivers even more insight into the story.
La Scorta is a wonderful treat for people who really want to delve into the reality of the Mafia in Italy. Blue Underground continues its tradition of delivering excellent packages for films that might have slipped under the radar of most viewers. They still are "a company that truly comprehends the DVD format." This is a great example of their commitment to foreign cinema, and fans of Italian drama should find this a joy to watch.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Blue Underground
• Commentary with Director Ricky Tagnazzi and Producer Claudia Bonivento
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