Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 12th, 2015
BluRay released: June 15th, 2015
Approximate running times: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
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.
Milano Calibro 9 is the first in a trilogy of films followed by The Italian Connection (Aka Manhunt) and The Boss (Aka Wipeout!). Even though Milano Calibro 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 Calibro 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 Caliber 9 because Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito performance in Goodfellas bears a strong resemblance to the Rocco Musco in Milano Calibro 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 Calibro 9 is one the best examples the Italian crime genre has to offer.
Milano Calibro 9 comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release Arrow Video has created a brand new 2k transfer from the film’s original negative. They have also preformed additional restoration work on the transfer and the end result is looks stunning. Grain look natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. When compared to previous home video releases like Raro Video’s Blu-Ray there is a marked improvement in image clarity and shadow detail.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear, balanced and robust when they need too, especially the score for the film. Also sound effects and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented throughout. Also included with this release are subtitle options, English subtitles for the Italian language track and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.
Extras for this release include the U.S. trailer for the film (3 minutes 15 seconds) and the Italian trailer for the film (3 minutes 16 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an audio interview with actor Gastone Moschin that has images from the film in the background (3 minutes 28 seconds), four featurettes, the first featurette titled ‘Calibro 9’ (29 minutes 43 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), the second featurette titled ‘Fernando Di Leo: The Genesis of the Genre’ (39 minutes 13 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), the third featurette titled ‘Scerbanenco Noir’ (26 minutes 11 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and the fourth featurette titled ‘Italian Violenta’ (17 minutes 38 seconds).
Topics discussed in the interview with Gastone Moschin include, how he was happy to cast in Milano Calibro 9 since it allowed him to show that he was an actor with more range and not just a comedy actor, working with Fernando Di Leo and his thoughts on the cast.
Topics discussed in the featurette titled ‘Calibro 9’ include, the perfect cast, the origins of the film and author Giorgio Scerbanenco’s influence, the violent tone of the film and censorship, key sequences in the film, the score and action set pieces.
Topics discussed in the featurette titled ‘Fernando Di Leo: The Genesis of the Genre’ is an overview of Fernando Di Leo’s career not only as a director, but his work as a screenwriter. It should be noted that there is some information in this documentary that is repeated in the other documentaries.
Topics discussed in the featurette titled ‘Scerbanenco Noir’ focuses on the writings of author Giorgio Scerbanenco. How Fernando Di Leo based many of his crime themed films on.
The extra titled ‘Italian Violenta’ gives a well-rounded overview of Poliziotteschi (Italian police procedurals) genre and there is also an in depth discussion about Milano Calibro 9, the look of the film, the film’s score, the cast and Fernando Di Leo.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a twenty four page booklet with cast & crew info, a lengthy essay titled ‘Film Noir, Italian Style, Giorgio Scerbanenco, Fernando Di Leo and Milano Calibro 9’ written by Roberto Curti and information about this releases restoration / transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Milano Calibro 9 gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video.