Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 29th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Writers: Enzo G. Castellari, Massimo De Rita, Angelino Maiuri
Cast: Fabio Testi, Romano Puppo, Vincent Gardenia, Renzo Palmer, Orso Maria Guerrini
DVD released: April 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Nico Palmieri (Fabio Testi) is a tough as nails undercover detective who is trying to break up a local extortion ring. A gang of thugs lead by a man named Rudy has been going around to all the local business owners demanding they pay protection money or else their business will be torn to pieces by the thugs. Nico is unable to convict any of these thugs for their crimes because everyone they have violated refuses to testify against them. With his back to the wall Nico knows that he must go above the law and take care of these criminals once and for all vigilante style.
The Big Racket ignites the screen from its opening frames of thugs destroying various local businesses who have refused to pay protection money. The destruction is prolonged ever so slightly by Enzo G. Castellari’s trademark slow-motion stylized photography. Everything in this film is done bigger and better then any Poliziotteschi that came before or those that would spawn up after it. The Big Racket has two mid blowing action sequences one about half way through the film that takes place in a train yard and the grand finale that takes place in a where house. Both of these scenes are filled with an endless barrage of bullets and bloodshed.
One of the most disturbing scenes Enzo G. Castellari would ever direct occurs when the some thugs who have been giving Nico so much trouble show up at a champion skeet shooters home after he had helped saved Nico life a few days before. The thugs brutally beat the husband tell he is nearly lifeless then they force him to watch his wife as each of them take turns raping her. The torment and degradation doesn’t end their as one of them pisses on the skeet shooters wife before the ultimately lit the apartment on fire killing his wife in the process while he is left behind. Another moment that pushes the boundaries of good taste happens when a blind girl whose father has agreed to help the police break up the protection ring is kidnapped and rapped. The girl unable to cop with this trauma ends up taking her own life in the end.
The acting is average at best and Fabio Testi who plays many of the same type of roles is unusually good in The Big Racket. Many of the cast in this film are stuntmen and despite their lack of acting experience they handle themselves pretty well. Guido and Maurizio De Angelis provide another amazing score that captures all the right moods. The plot for The Big Racket is solid as it perfectly balances character development with over the top action set pieces.
Blue Underground presents The Big Racket in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This DVD is flagged for progressive scan and for the first time ever it is uncut on DVD. The colors are vivid with deep reds looking exceptional lucid and flesh tones look natural. There is an exceptional amount of detail present in the back and foreground. Blue Underground’s transfer drastically improves upon Vipco’s Pal DVD release form a few years ago.
This release comes with only one audio option an English language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Dialog is easy to follow and music and effects sound evenly balanced as they never distort each other. Overall despite its mono limitations this release mono audio mix is one of the better sounding mixes you will ever come across for a film over thirty years old.
Extras for this release include the films original theatrical trailer. The main extra for this release is an audio commentary with Enzo C. Castellari, Andrea Castellari and moderated by David Gregory. Enzo C. Castellari is a wonderful story teller who has many amazing stories about the various actors involved with The Big Racket and he reveals how he did a few of his most famous actions sequences. Overall Blue Underground have given The Big Racket is one of pinnacle films in the Poliziotteschi genre its most definitive DVD release to date.