Meet Judge Daryl Loomis and be mildly annoyed.
He risked everything for revenge.
One of the things that I really like about Italian genre movies is that, even when they're bad, there's almost always something cool that happens to give it some value. In Meet Him and Die, an otherwise pretty terrible poliziesco, the Italian term for crime and gangster movies, the bad acting and incomprehensible plot take a back seat to some pretty great fights and some dangerous looking stunt work and it now arrives for the first time in America on Blu-ray from Raro.
Facts of the Case
After his mother is shot in some crossfire, young cop Massimo Torlani (Ray Lovelock, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man) decides to go into deep cover to get revenge. He stages a robbery, gets railroaded into prison and, over his year sentence, gets in with the Mafia types he meets. He cements his place in the gang by staging a breakout, aided by the guards, of course, and then conducts his mission to infiltrate and destroy the upper reaches of the gang. There, he meets the beautiful secretary of one of the leaders (Elke Sommer, Lisa and the Devil), who may have some secret plans of her own.
There might be no movie more representative of its genre as Meet Him and Die, though that's not an indication of quality. But it has everything you could expect from an Italian crime movie: the fisticuffs, the stunts, sex, corrupt cops, gangsters, and an incomprehensible story. Combine all that together and I can always have a good time, even if this one in particular isn't very good.
Mostly, it comes down to the plotting. Director Franco Prosperi (not the one who made the Mondo Cane movies) tries to mask the fact that Torlani is a cop at first, but when the guards basically hand him the guns and let him break out, it becomes pretty obvious. I think the idea was to have the audience figure it out when the gangsters do, but that is a lost cause almost immediately. Mostly, it just feels like a series of set pieces without a cohesive thread and, though I can follow and describe the story without much trouble, none of the scenes really seem that connected.
Luckily, story is a minor part of these movies. I'm mostly in it for the fights and stunts, which are pretty great. Lovelock likely did his own stunts (unverified, but very common in Italy at the time), and some of those things, including getting clipped on a motorbike by a semi-truck and skidding out. That's the kind of dangerous stuff that makes these things fun for me to watch, and the actual fighting is pretty good, as well, with one slobber-knocker taking place between to inmates in an empty prison yard a personal favorite.
Ray Lovelock was better at that stuff than he was at acting and that's fine, because he was really good at it. These sequences are the only things that make the movie exciting at all. Fans of Elke Sommer get to have some fun with her and there's strong supporting part from character actor Martin Balsam (St. Elmo's Fire) as one of the bosses. He's a pretty funny actor, so stands up well next to the ultra-serious Lovelock. As far as character development is concerned, that's about it; heck, Elke Sommer's character doesn't even have a name. The action is strong enough for me, as a fan of the genre, but there really isn't a good reason to watch this movie.
Adding insult to injury, Meet Him and Die (Blu-ray) doesn't live up to Raro Video's usual standards. The 1.78:1/1080p transfer is not particularly good at all, with the generally soft image lacking almost any background detail. Washed out flesh tones and murky black levels don't help matters in the least. The whites are bright, but that's really only because the whole thing seems a little over-exposed. There's no real damage to the print at any point, so that's something, though not much. The sound isn't as poorly done, but the PCM single channel track has very limited range. The only extra is an introduction by documentarian Mike Malloy, who wrote the liner notes, as well. He's kind of annoying, but he knows what he's talking about.
I don't know if it's worth sitting through Meet Him and Die for the action sequences alone, but they're pretty well done. For fans of the genre, seeing the fights and the stunts will be a treat. If you're unfamiliar with these kinds of movies, don't let this one be your first taste. Watch something like Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, which is a better representation of the genre. Recommended to poliziesco fans only.
Fun, but still guilty.
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Studio: Raro Video
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