Written by: John White on February 26th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1977
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, John Saxon, Guido Alberti
DVD released: September 2005
Approximate running time: 95 mins
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: Not Rated
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Alfa Digital (Grey Market Release)
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
Synopsis: Inspector Tanzi has given up on the police after putting the Chinaman behind bars. However the Chinaman breaks out and send two assassins after the now civilian Tanzi. The police arrange for Tanzi’s death to be put in the papers despite his survival and advise him to leave the country for his own safety. Tanzi decides different and when his uncle is murdered he hunts the Chinaman down through his business association with DiMaggio. Tanzi starts a war between the two and waits to pounce on his prey.
Lenzi, Milian and Merli are reunited a year after Rome Armed to the Teeth. Reportedly, Merli and Milian were far from fond of each other and this antagonism works well on the screen. Merli as the civilian Tanzi seems to kill and carry a firearm with an impunity that worries me for public safety in Rome, and Milian’s status as a wanted fugitive doesn’t seem to hamper his lifestyle any.
Thrown into the mix is the wonderful John Saxon as the golfing DiMaggio pictured dispensing justice with his four iron. Tanzi as the agent provocateur brings DiMaggio and the Chinaman into open war by encouraging one to steal from the other and laying false doubts in each gangsters mind. In this sense the film resembles a Fistful of Dollars with heists and money laundering.
There are some excellent setpieces with great chase sequences on the subway and on the roads(even with some borrowed footage from Almost Human, I think). There is a great gunfight in a photographic studio (see above) and a marvellous Rififi like robbery aided by Tanzi and the Professor.
This has a lesser reputation than Rome Armed to the Teeth and I can’t see why as it is far more inventive, better written, and directed with more style. The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist is one of Lenzi’s best crime flicks with some of his best work full stop.
The Alfadigital disc suffers from similar issues to their release of Rome Armed to the Teeth. The conversions issue is not a problem but the transfer is less good with some colour balance problems and video dropout. The sound is less poor than the other Lenzi release but audio dropout is still present throughout. The English dub has Saxon’s own voice
The extra is a trailer.
A R2 release of this film is coming but English language options are not confirmed yet. It is an essential purchase for Euro-Crime fans but a better DVD package is very possible.