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Last Round, The 
Written by: on October 18th, 2005
The Last Round The Last Round
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, December 30th, 1976
Director: Stelvio Massi
Writer: Piero Regnoli
Cast: Luc Merenda, Carlos Monzón, Gianni Dei, Giampiero Albertini, Mario Brega

DVD released: November 15th, 2005
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

Marco Russo (Carlos Monzón) is a drifter who has just arrived in town with nothing more then a music box that contains pictures of his murdered mother and sister. The man responsible for their deaths lives in this town and while he waits to exact his revenge Marco looks for work. Two feuding gangs the Manzetti clan and the Belmondo clan run the town and anyone who is looking for a job must go through them first. Marco offers his services to both gangs and uses them to help him eliminate the man he is looking for. Will Marco complete his cycle of revenge before one of his new employers finds out about his double dealing?

The last Round is not your romanticized Hollywood version of the Mafia. You go to love Italian cinema it is a virtual melting pot of ideas taken from here, there and everywhere. The Last Round is equal parts Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Sergio Leone’s Dollars films. Stelvio Massi direction is steady as he makes full use of all the action film cliché’s like slow motion and rapid fire editing. The films two leads Luc Merenda and Carlos Monzón complement each other with their dynamic performances. Luc Merenda plays the GQ pretty boy crime boss Rico Manzetti who has two fetishes guns and raping women. This role is quite a departure from the other films that I seen Merenda and I was thoroughly impressed how well he was able to pull such a despicable character. Carlos Monzón plays Marco Russo aka the drifter and like many who have come before him he has only one thing on his mind revenge. Marco carries around a music box thorugh out the film which is strangely reminiscent plot device used by Sergio Leone in For a Few Dollars More. Monzón was a former middleweight boxer and he makes his presence in the film felt more by his physical attributes and no so much by his speaking skills. His boxing skills come in handy as every scene he is in is elevated to another level as he shows off his fighting skills. The plot may not be original still there are few moments that had me shaking my head like when the Manzetti clan had a chance to kill Marco once and for all and they let him live. This is the first of many mistakes the heavies in the film make and rule #1 should be kill your enemies its safer. An interesting plot device that is used very effectively is that of a girl who is blind. She becomes friends with Marco and later in the film she pays a severe price for this. Overall The Last Round is a satisfying crime thriller that overcomes most of its plots minor flaws.

The DVD:

No Shame presents The Last Round in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The colors look solid and flesh tones look healthy. The black levels remain strong and details look sharp through out. There are no problems with artifacts or compression and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. This progressive scan transfer keeps in line with all the other quality transfers that No Shame has released to date as the image remains stable through out. The film starts with a disclaimer about how this transfer had to be digitally restored due to some major and unrecoverable damages to the original negative. Whatever was wrong with the elements being used certainly doesn’t hamper this transfer in anyway since the only noticeable problem I could detect during playback was hiss and some mild background noise that is present through out the film. This release comes with two audio options an English dubbed audio track and an Italian language track. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Besides that already mentioned hiss and background noise the overall track in more the adequate as the dialog is easy to understand and the music and effects sound evenly balanced. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.

Extras include the films Italian theatrical trailer which comes with English subtitles and a brief poster & still gallery that includes music from the film in the background. A collectable booklet has been included that includes bios/filmographies for Stelvio Massi, Luc Merenda and Carlos Monzon. The booklet also includes liner notes written by Jeff Stafford about The Last Round. Other extras include a thirty five minute featurette titled: “Enter the Merenda” which is essentially a one on one interview with Luc Merenda at his antique shop in Paris. Merenda is clearly a man who has moved on and left his past as an actor behind him. He spends most of the interview discussing his antiques and his family. He briefly discusses his career as an actor and even mentions how he was almost recently enticed to make a come back. Overall the interview should have been shorter and focused more on the films he appeared in. Rounding out the extras is an interesting extra in the form of a CD that contains eight classic themes from 1970’s Italian exploitation films. The music is slightly changed from the way we are used to hearing them as they have a more danceable techno edge to them. The CD is filled with a lot of great music and its addition as part of this release was nice touch. The Last Round is another solid Italian police thriller that doesn’t hold back in its gritty and raw depiction of underworld crime, recommended.

For more information about The Last Round visit No Shame here.

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