Written by: John White on January 5th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Maurizio Merli, Barry Sullivan, John Saxon, Elio Zamuto, Maria Grazia Spina, Silvano Tranquilli, Attilio Duse, Guido Alberti
DVD released: August 2004
Approximate running time: 94 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Alfa Digital (Grey Market Release)
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $20.95
Synopsis: Commissioner Betti (Merli) has been posted to Naples and brings his own tactics to the fight against organised crime. Chasing protection rackets and armed robbers, Betti, becomes aware of Crime bosses Capunao (Saxon) and the Commandante (Sullivan). Capuano has tried to pull a fast one on the Commandante and a bloody war begins. Betti is on their tale and before long must choose between doing things the “right” way and bending the law.
Violent Naples is breathless stuff. It flies along with protection rackets, rape, armed robberies, murdered informants, and breakneck chases on motorbike and even on the top of tram. Merli gets his men one by one by fair means and foul but always entertainingly. Lenzi is often at home with the cruelty and his approach to morality owes more to Michael Winner than any serious intent, but he is inventive. The killing of one informant by tying him to a bowling lane is particularly creative and the villains big and small are all characteristically repugnant.
This is not a film making any serious points which is a good thing because I think Umberto may be somewhere to the right of Mussolini. This is pure exploitation Euro Crime done brilliantly with a fine script and a tempo that any director would be proud of. This is as good as Di Leo’s Manhunt – Merli is a marvel of upright cynicism, Saxon is slimy, and Sullivan venerably evil.
My particular highpoint was the motorbike rides through Naples. These are so well done that you find yourself swerving with the other traffic and the clever editing and sped up film work brilliantly. I am not a fan of Lenzi’s work in other genres but that bike ride convinced me that he is no hack. Violent Naples is a cracking Euro Crime film with buckets of blood and surprising technique.
Alfa Digital have presented the film in Anamorphic Widescreen. The print used is very good with very occasional damage visible and odd lapses in colour balance particularly at the very start. The transfer is relatively clean and sharp and surprisingly good for such a source, the night time scenes do show some grain though.
The sound is fine with some distortion on treble when the cast speak, Saxon and Sullivan dub their voices in the English track provided.
The disc has no extras. I know of no other English language releases of this film and would urge you to pick it up if you want to see a top notch Euro Crime thriller. Those nice people at Xploited Cinema might be able to help you get a copy.