Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 14th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 15th, 1972
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Writer: Fernando Di Leo
Cast: Gastone Moschin, Barbara Bouchet, Mario Adorf, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli
DVD Released: July 21st, 2009
Approximate Running Time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Video Asia
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98 (Milan Calibre 9 is only available as part of the Thug City Chronicles DVD set)
Synopsis: Just released from prison Ugo Piazza (Gastone Moschin) is abducted by some thugs who work for his former employer Americano. They beat the living hell out of Ugo in hopes that he will tell them where the $300,000 that he stole before going in prison is hidden. After a few beatings Ugo still refuses to tell them anything so the Americano offers him a job to keep him close.
Milan Calibre 9 is the first in a trilogy of films followed by Manhunt and The Boss. Even though Milano Calibre 9 wasn’t one of the first Italian crime films, its lasting impact is undeniable as it the tone and style for all Italian crime films that followed it. The Italians have long been known to borrow from American cinema. There are many instances while watching when one naturally thinks of Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather a film which came out a month after Milano Calibre 9.
The films opening money exchange sequence is breath talking in its execution as the package is handed from one person to the next. This scene like the rest of the film is greatly benefited by Luis Enríquez Bacalov’s score. This film is filled with a superb cast of colorful characters with the character Rocco Musco played by Mario Adorf being the one that stands out the most as he nearly steals the whole show with his maniacal over the top portrayal of a Mafioso. One has to wonder if Martian Scorsese ever saw Milano Calibre 9 because Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito performance in Goodfellas bears a strong resemblance to the Rocco Musco in Milano Calibre 9. Casting Gastone Moschin in the role of Ugo Piazza the main character in the film at first appears to be an odd choice. His performance is subtle and it grows on you as the film progresses.
Several other Euro-cult regulars appear in this film including Barbara Bouchet, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Philippe Leroy and Lionel Stander. Most of these roles are minor characters in the film with Barbara Bouchet adding her usual eye candy as a stripper. Overall the acting in this film is first rate. The action is fast and furious and the violence is brutal and bloody. Fernando Di Leo’s direction is pitch perfect as every frame and moment unfolds effortlessly into the next. There are a few interesting plot twists along the way that lead up to an ending that is truly unforgettable. Overall Milano Calibre 9 is one the best examples the Italian crime genre has to offer.
Video Asia presents Milan Calibre 9 in a 1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen. The interlaced transfer looks soft, colors look slightly off and flesh tones don’t look healthy. When compared to Raro Video’s Italian DVD release which is anamorphic widescreen, the transfer for this DVD release from Video Asia is inferior in every way. Also for this release Video Asia has put Milan Calibre 9 and another film (City Rats) on a single layer DVD. Also the Video Asia transfer appears to be a standard conversion (PAL to NTSC) as the film clocks in at 97 minutes and 2 seconds, while the PAL Raro DVD clocks in at 97 minutes and 24 seconds.
The Video Asia DVD release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. The audio sounds distorted and there is noticeable background noise throughout. The Raro DVD release comes with two audio options English and Italian, both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Also the English audio mix on the Raro DVD release sounds clearer and is not plagued by the same audio defects that are present on the Video Asia DVD release. Removable English subtitles have been provided with the Raro DVD release.
Video Asia’s presentation of Milan Calibre 9 comes with no extra content. It is only available as part of the Thug City Chronicles DVD set which also includes Tony Arzenta (1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen), Bandidos (2.35:1 letterboxed widescreen), Blind Rage (4:3 Full Frame), Godfather’s Daughter (1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen), Manhunt (1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen), The Boss (1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen), City Rats (4:3 Full Frame), New Mafia Boss (4:3 Full Frame) and Redneck (1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen). All of the films come with one audio option each, English and all of the transfers are interlaced. None of the transfers look that great with the more serviceable ones being Tony Arzenta, Bandidos, Manhunt, The Boss and Milan Calibre 9. Overall this set is nothing more than a cheap alternative that does a poor job presenting these films, many of which can be purchased separately at more than reasonable prices via DVD releases that are vastly superior to this release.
Raro Video DVD