Finally, Appellate Judge Tom Becker has a cool phrase for the tombstone.
You know what your good guys did with their toy guns?
A young woman goes to the police to report a crime that hasn't yet happened. It seems that her middle-class boyfriend and his middle-class pals are planning to rob a gas station that very morning, and she wants the inspector to stop them before they get into any real trouble. It's all a game to them, she explains, and notes that they're planning on pulling off the robbery with a toy gun.
On that, she's half right: They've got a gun, but it's no toy. Since the girl went to the inspector, the police are on hand—but they're not prepared to be shot at, so the simple hold-up turns into a bloody nightmare of bloodletting!
These boys are Young, Violent, Dangerous—and Italian. Yes, it's another '70s Euro-crime thriller from Raro, this one directed by Romolo Guerrieri, who helmed the brilliantly titled Carroll Baker sleaze-and-cheesefest, The Sweet Body of Deborah, with a script by the great Fernando di Leo (Rulers of the City).
I don't know if I've seen too many of these or if the ones I've seen from directors like di Leo and Umberto Lenzi are just superior, but while Young, Violent, Dangerous is entertaining enough, it just never takes off the way the better examples of the genre do—films like Caliber 9, Almost Human, Violent Rome, or Violent Naples. There's plenty of violence and a bit of sex, but the characters aren't strong enough and the plot isn't twisty enough for this to rate much more than routine.
The boys—Joe (Benjamin Lev, Eye in the Labyrinth), "Blondie" (Stefano Patrizi, Murder Obsession), and Luis (Max Delys, Bread and Chocolate)—are privileged brats who'd be right at home in an American exploitation film from the '50s. Their crime spree begins for "kicks" and when it spirals out of control, they just go with it. After the first hold-up, they steal a car, then rob a bank—upping the body count—after which they ride around tossing money out the window at strangers.
Joe (Giovanni, actually) is a cackling sociopath and follower, while Blondie is a quieter sociopath and the leader. Luis is the boyfriend of Lea (Eleonora Giorgi, Inferno), the girl who goes to the police. Luis is also the "good" one who wants no part of the violence but is too passive to do anything about it. There's also a heavy homoerotic vibe between Luis and Blondie, and since this is a di Leo-penned film, that should be no surprise—the more di Leo films I see, the more I suspect that '70s era Italian gangsters were pretty uniformly bisexual.
The great Tomas Milian plays the police inspector. While it's almost always worth seeing Milian, he really gets little to do here. What's worse is that some of what he does involves lecturing the parents of the young miscreants on how it's their fault their pampered sons are out slaughtering security guards and gas station attendants. In a scene that seems ripped from a "cautionary" JD film from decades before, Milian deduces that the parents should be jailed—"If your son is a monster, it's your fault for not giving him the necessary love and affection," he intones, effectively setting up the old "neglected kid" defense should the hooligans live long enough to go to trial.
The film moves briskly and contains the usual Italian action conventions—intriguing chases, bloody shoot outs, and a disturbing sex sequence in which women are treated in an extremely degrading manner, nasty even by the standards of the genre.
Unfortunately, there's just not much here in the way of a plot. The boys have no plan, just going from one chaotic moment to the next, so we pretty well know from the outset how this going to go. There are a few slightly surprising slaughters—including one triggered, evidently, by yet more homoeroticism—but overall, this just isn't all that memorable.
Raro's disc offers a good-looking, standard definition 1.85:1 letterboxed image and reasonable Dolby 2.0 Mono audio in both Italian and English. The disc contains an interview with Guerrieri, which is interesting, as well as on-screen text information about the director.
The supplemental package also promises a DVD-Rom critical essay. The "Extras" screen offers instructions on how to load the disc into your computer and access the essay. I tried this on two computers and could not find the essay. Whether I did something wrong or Raro failed to load it on the disc, I don't know. In the past, Raro discs have had the occasional authoring problem (damage on The Secret of Dorian Gray that required a new pressing, an out-of-synch featurette on Fernando di Leo Crime Collection); whether this is another one, I can't say.
Young, Violent, Dangerous is an OK actioner that should satisfy fans of the Italian crime genre. It's not great filmmaking, but it offers enough gore and thrills to warrant a recommend. The supplement-I-couldn't-find is another matter, and I'd be interested in finding out if the mistake is on my part or Raro's.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Raro Video
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