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Blade / Ring of Death 
Written by: on August 27th, 2011


Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1973 (Blade), Italy, 1969 (Ring of Death)
Directors: Ernest Pintoff (Blade), Romolo Guerrieri (Ring of Death)
Cast: John Marley, Jon Cypher, Kathryn Walker, William Prince, Ted Lange, Morgan Freeman, Rue McClanahan (Blade), Franco Nero, Florinda Bolkan, Adolfo Celi, Delia Boccardo, Susanna Martinková, Renzo Palmer, Roberto Bisacco, Maurizio Bonuglia (Ring of Death)

DVD released: August 23rd, 2011
Approximate running times: 90 minutes (Blade), 91 minutes (Ring of Death)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Blade), 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Ring of Death)
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (Both Films)
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $16.98


Blade: A unconventional detective is given the task of tracking the killer of a senator’s daughter.

Content wise, Blade is a deliberately paced crime drama that opens and closes with a bang, while the in-between moments focus more on, who everyone is and what their motivations are? And while bulk of the film is spent with more character driven moments, it is the few moments of carnage along the way that keep up the momentum set in motion with the film’s opening scene. A scene in which a young woman is ambushed right outside her door, by a man who unleashes his martial arts skills on her and bashes her head on the staircase railing and her front door.
 
Though the plot primarily focus on a detective named Blade looks for madman, who is going around New York city and brutalizing women. The is a secondary plot about a black man, who is arrested because he was the boyfriend of one of the victims and the last person to see her alive. This part of the plot is rooted in social commentary and as more bodies turn up, it becomes more and more apparent that the police have arrested the wrong man. Of course the police stubbornly refuse to admit that they may have been wrong, making their arrest appear all the more racially motivated
.
Visually this film is just a step above what one would expect from T.V. movie, though the violent tone of this one would suggest otherwise. Another area in which this production comes up short is its corny dialog that is at times so bad, it is hard to believe anyone could have said with a straight face. This film’s screenplay was co-written by Jeff Lieberman, a filmmaker in his own right who would go onto direct films like Blue Sunshine and Just Before Dawn.
 
Performance wise most of the cast are barley adequate in their respective roles, with the only performance leaving a lasting impression being John Marley (Death Dream) in the role of Blade. Though the performances are often underwhelming, the cast does feature many recognizable faces like Ted Lange (‘Love Boat’), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) and Rue McClanahan (‘Golden Girls’). Ultimately this film’s tagline does a superb job summing up this rarely seen thriller.

A Psycho-Karate Killer Brutalizes His Victims And Your Emotions!

Ring of Death: A hard boiled detective becomes entangled in a murderous web of deceit.

Ring of Death was directed by Romolo Guerrieri, who’s diverse filmography include Johnny YumaThe Sweet Body of Deborah and Young, Violent, Dangerous. The cinematographer on Ring of Death was Roberto Gerardi, who’s other notable films as a cinematographer include Marriage Italian Style, The Last Days of Mussolini and To be Twenty. The score for Ring of Death was composed by Fred Bongusto, who’s other notable scores include The Eroticist and Malizia.

Though Ring of Death foreshadows the brutality that would later become synonymous with Poliziotteschi genre. Content wise, this film actually owes a greater debt to the Raymond Chandler detective films of the 1940′s.
 
At the heart of this film is a amoral detective, who’s is willing to do whatever it takes to solve a case. Of course this means that he has a disregard for protocol and that he has no boundaries when interrogating someone, with his fists as his main weapon for getting information from said suspects. And while his lack of morality is one of the key ingredients which drive the narrative and defines who he is as a character. It is ultimately his transformation out of the grey area from which he lurks for the majority of the film, that this is film’s most rewarding asset.
 
The look of the film is in line with other Italian films from the era. The stylish visuals take full advantage of the metropolitan locations and attractive cast. The narrative moves along at a brisk enough pace, with each new revelation spread out for maximum effect.
 
This film features an extraordinary cast, who all are exemplary, especially Franco Nero (Django) in the role of this film’s protagonist, Detective Stefano Belli. He brings an intensity to role that those familiar with his other films are sure to thoroughly enjoy. And while the strengths of his performance are more rooted in his emotional responses. He more than holds his own when it comes to more dialog driven moments. Another performance of note is Florinda Bolkan (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling), who has been cast as this film’s femme fatale. While Adolfo Celi’s (Live Like a Cop Die Like a Man) character is easily the most underused, thus making his one of the most forgettable performances in this film.

The DVD:

Blade is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors at times look muted, black levels and contrast levels fluctuate throughout and details generally look crisp. There are no problems with compression and print debris varies in degree throughout, with a few instances in which is flares up.  

Blade comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. There are no major issues with distortion or background noise and dialog comes through clearly.

Ring of Death is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels look pretty good and details look crisp. There are no problems with compression and print debris is minimal.
 
Ring of Death comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout.

Extras for this release are limited to trailers for Cut-Throats Nine, Death Journey, Nightmare and Ring of Death and Running Hot. There are three playback options for this release, play ‘Blade’, play ‘Ring of Death’ and ’42nd Street Experience’. This last options plays the two main features back two back, with two trailers before each feature.

This release marks the U.S. home video debut of Blade (which is presented in its most complete version) and Ring of Death is presented in its much shorter U.S. theatrical version, which is missing about twelve minutes of footage that is present in this film’s original Italian theatrical release version. It should also be noted that there exists a much longer export version of Un detective (Ring of Death) that clocks in at 100 minutes in length. Also one scene in particular is greatly effected in the U.S. theatrical version of Ring of Death and that is its ending, which ends rather abruptly, while in the Italian the outcome is more satisfactorily resolved. Overall both films get good audio / video presentations, unfortunately this release most glaring shortcoming is that Un detective (Ring of Death) is only presented in its shorter version.

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