Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 23rd, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Franco Prosperi
Writers: Peter Berling, Antonio Cucca, Claudio Fragasso, Alberto Marras
Cast: Ray Lovelock, Martin Balsam, Elke Sommer, Heinz Domez, Ettore Manni, Peter Berling, Riccardo Cucciolla, Ernesto Colli
BluRay Released: April 1st, 2014
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.76:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / VC-1 Video
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Raro Video USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A first time criminal gets caught and sent to prison. Shortly after his arrival he befriends a crime boss who includes him in an escape plan. Once on the outside he narrowly saves the crime boss from an ambush and to repay him for saving the crime bosses life he is offered a job in the organization.
Meet Him and Die was directed by Franco Prosperi who’s other notable films as a director include Hired Killer and The Last House on the Beach. Key collaborators on Meet Him and Die include screenwriter Claudio Fragasso (Zombie 4: After Death), cinematographer Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli (Beyond the Door, Starcrash) and composer Ubaldo Continiello (Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man). A few alternate titles that Meet Him and Die has gone under include Risking and the Italian language title ‘Pronto ad uccidere’ which roughly translates into Ready to Kill.
Content wise this film is equal parts Italian crime thriller and revenge themed film rooted in redemption. The first act of the film does a superb job setting up who everyone is and what their motivations are? It is also this first act which contains a major plot twist which is ultimately the backbone of this films narrative. By the time the second act rolls around things tend to lean more towards action oriented moments. Most notably a pair of shot out scenes between rival gangs, one which leads to the first two jaw dropping chase scenes in this film. And as good as things are leading up to this final act. This film most definitely saves its best for last. This includes that aforementioned second chase sequence where the film’s protagonist has just had his cargo hijacked and he steals a motorbike to catch the truck carrying his cargo.
The film’s visuals do a great job reinforcing the grittiness that surrounds the characters. Pacing is never an issue as things moves along at a very brisk pace from one revelation to the next. Besides the aforementioned chases sequences, another stand out moment visually is a flashback sequence involving this film’s protagonist. If there was a scene in this film that did not gel that well, that scene would be the love scene between this film’s protagonist and his new boss’s secretary.
The most surprising aspect of this film is the performances from its entire cast who are very good in their respective roles. This film strongest performance coming from Ray Lovelock (Live like a Cop, Die like a Man) in the role of this film’s protagonist, a character named Massimo Torlani. He delivers a pitch perfect performance that makes his characters journey all the more credible. This film most memorable performance comes from Martin Balsam (Psycho) in the role of Giulianelli, the crime boss that employs Torlani. His character gets to say the most amusing lines of dialog.
Though this film has all the elements one would expect and want from an Italian crime thriller. The way in which this film employs these staples of genre are not its strength. Its most durable asset ultimately comes from its film’s premise which revolves around a protagonist looking for his redemption through vengeance.
Meet Him and Die comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release Raro have created a new digital restoration that improves upon their previous home video release. Colors look accurate and though shot with an intended soft focus look, the image ranges generally looks crisp too looking a tad too soft. Black and contrast levels at average at best, there are mild issues with compression and DNR appears throughout in varying degree. Also this transfer has that odd ‘grain’ look that has plagued so many Italian films from this era that have been released on BluRay.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. The differences between the two audio mixes are minimal. There are no issues with distortion, dialog comes through clearly enough to follow and everything sounds balanced. Also the action sequences and the film’s score sounds appropriately robust. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include a 6 and ½ minute interview with Italian crime cinema expert Mike Malloy and a twelve page booklet with an extensive essay about Meet Him and Die written by Mike Malloy and a text bio / filmography for director Franco Prosperi. Also included with this release is a slip cover that has alternative cover then what is used for the Blu-Ray covert art inside the keep case. Overall Meet Him and Die gets a good release from Raro Video that leaves plenty room for improvement.
Note: This film is also being released by Raro Video USA on DVD.