Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 18th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1974
Director: Fernando di Leo
Writers: Fernando di Leo, Sergio Donati
Cast: Luc Merenda, Richard Conte, Delia Boccardo, Raymond Pellegrin, Gianni Santuccio, Vittorio Caprioli, Salvo Randone
BluRay Released: May 28th, 2013
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
BluRay Release: Raro USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $24.95
Shoot First, Die Later was co-written and directed by Fernando di Leo, arguably the forerunner in the Italian crime thriller genre (Poliziotteschi) from the 1970′s. Key collaborators include screenwriter Sergio Donati (The Big Gundown, Once Upon a Time in the West), cinematographer Franco Villa (Milano Calibro 9, Giallo in Venice) and composer Luis Bacalov (Django, The Grand Duel).
Content wise, Shoot First, Die Later echoes many themes explored in previous Fernando di Leo crime thrillers. The more pronounced violence in Shoot First, Die Later presents an escalation of gruesome moments of carnage that would reach its fever pitch with To Be Twenty.
When it comes to gritty action set pieces very few of Fernando di Leo’s contemporaries come close to capturing the ferocity that is evident in all of his crime thrillers. Right from the get go he establishes a brutal tone that lingers throughout with an opening sequence involving torture. And though this is just one of many violent moments in the film, Fernando di Leo also spends an ample amount of time establishing both character and motivation.
From top to bottom this production excels in every area. The visuals are rock solid, pacing is never an issue, and the aforementioned action set pieces are all top notch; especially the obligatory car chase sequence. Performance wise the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles with the most surprising performance coming from Luc Merenda (Torso) as the protagonist; a corrupt police detective named Domenico Malacarne. This performance is far and away the most memorable of his career. Ultimately Shoot First, Die Later is an exceptional Poliziotteschi that achieves a perfect balance between the more violent moments and an underlying subtext about abuse of power.
Shoot First, Die Later comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This is another strong transfer Raro Video that does a very good retaining the intended look of the film. Details generally look crisp, black and contrast levels are consistently good throughout and there are no problems with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in English and a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sounds clean, clear and balanced throughout. Though the range is rather limited at times, the more action oriented and ambient aspects of the soundtrack fare really well. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film that can be watched in Italian with English subtitles or in English (3 minutes 20 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and two featurette’s, the first on with director Fernando di Leo titled ‘Master of the Game’ (24 minutes 58 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and the second one titled ‘The Second Round of the Game’ (21 minutes 20 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and it includes comments from assistant director Franco Lo Cascio, actor Luc Merenda and editor Amedeo Giomini. Both featurette’s not only do a superb job covering the various production aspects of Shoot First, Die Later. They both also give a well rounded view of its director, not only in his own words, but comments from a handful of people who worked with him.
Also included with this release is a slipcover that has alternate cover art, then the keep cases cover art and a twenty page booklet that contains extensive liner notes about the film and those involved in making this film, a essay about a proposed collaboration between Fernando di Leo and director Jean Pierre Melville and a text bio for Fernando di Leo. Overall this yet another exceptional release from Raro Video USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Raro Video USA on DVD.