Fred (Marc Porel, THE PSYCHIC) and Joey (Ray Lovelock, LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE) are two guys with tested “criminal tendencies” who also happen to be undercover cops working for a special squad that utilizes an electronic brain (read: computer) to predict crimes. Fred and Joey (or Alfredo and Alberto on the Italian track) are not content to merely deter crime, they use deadly force to prevent the criminals from ever offending again. Their chief (Adolfo Celi, THEY’VE CHANGED FACES) busts their asses for the body count they rack up deterring crime, but he uses creative reporting to qualm the defense ministry. Fellow officer Rick (Marino Mase, EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD) is trying to tie Pasquini (Renato Salvatori, TWO WOMEN) in to activities more illicit than illegal gambling. When Rick is gunned down in front of headquarters, Fred and Joey unofficially retaliate by torching the expensive cars of Pasquini’s clientele (as well as two of his thugs) outside one of his gambling dives. Pasquini immediately suspects the members of this secret special squad and demands a full report from a dirty cop (Daniele Dublino, KILLER NUN) who is on his payroll.
After Fred and Joey take out five armored car robbers before they can attack – with silencers – on their lunch break, the chief assigns them exclusively to tracking down Pasquini. They start with a visit to Pasquini’s nympho kid sister Lina (Sofia Dionisio, MY DEAR KILLER) – inexplicably dubbed with a Queens accent – who exhausts both of them without telling them much. They get far more information from Pasquini’s cousin Menica (Gina Mascetti, VARIETY LIGHTS) who makes them egg nog to replenish their strength and informs them of the steps that Pasquini takes to avoid detection. When they ambushed by four gunmen during a bout of target practice in a quarry, the chief tells them to lay low, but Fred and Joey decide knocking around some of Pasquini’s associates - stunt coordinator Gilberto Galimberti (voiced by familiar dubbing artist Edward Mannix) and Enrico Chiappafreddo (SYNDICATE SADISTS) – will be far more productive. A more cooperative information directs them to addict Morandi (Bruno Corazzari, BODY PUZZLE) – Proietti on the Italian track – who has lost an eye to Pasquini for snitching to the cops about one of his gambling houses to save his own skin. Fred gives Morandi the money to pay back his gambling debts and sends him to Pasquini’s chief thug Mario (Enzo Pulcrano, BROTHER OUTLAW) with a false lead about a competing gambling operation. Pasquini arranges to meet Morandi. Fred and Joey plan to be there, but Pasquini has planned an explosive ambush.
“Quick and dirty” seems to be the working methodology of all concerned with this film, from the script of Fernando Di Leo (SLAUGHTER HOTEL), the photography of Guglielmo Mancori (MURDER MANSION), the editing of Gianfranco Simoncelli (THE DEVIL’S WEDDING NIGHT), and the direction of Ruggero Deodato (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST). Fortunately, it pays off. The heroes move from one set-piece to another and, when all else fails, shoot targets out of each others hands and over each others shoulders. It moves fast enough, that the viewer may not realize that the script is an underdeveloped mess (which may be the reason Di Leo didn’t direct it himself). The opening ten-minute motorcycle chase is entertaining, but it comes across as padding dropped in to fill out the underdeveloped main story. The same can be said of another major set-piece involving a trio of thugs lead by Rudy (Franco Citti, KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE) terrorizing a hostage (Margherita Horowitz, SUSPIRIA, whose character the imdb cast list identifies as “Mona,” but I’m thinking the utterance of that towards her was actually a vulgar Italian slur, it certainly is in Venetian slang) during a standoff with the police that requires Fred’s and Joey’s ingenuity; however, it does feature Porel (or a stuntman) driving a motorcycle through a window. I was hoping that the latter sequence would turn out to be a setup for Pasquini to observe the special squad. A certain reluctance in Pasquini’s dirty cop – who is never granted a name – to confirm suspicions suggests that perhaps he is a plant or working both sides, but he ends up getting transferred without giving Pasquini any useful information (after the target practice ambush on Fred and Joey, they suggest to the chief that there is a leak in the special squad but we never see the dirty cop character anywhere near the headquarters and they never mention him). Although not as gory as his cannibal outings (including the European cut of CUT AND RUN), LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN is violent, but the intensity of the bad guys and the impassive expressions of Fred and Joey are more effective than any prosthetics make-up (including a bullet through the mouth). It was apparently meant to be even gorier (some additional eyeball violence Deodato claims to have shot did not make the final cut). Onscreen Porel and Lovelock have chemistry – despite rumors of a strained working relationship – but outside of their playful banter with one another and with the criminals they are tormenting, there are the incredibly sexist exchanges with the chief’s feminist secretary Norma (Silvia Dionisio, TERROR EXPRESS) who just needs a good lay, according to Fred (as well as some insinuations about their housekeeper’s young daughter). No wonder they only got laid by Pasquini’s insatiable sister. As with LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH, QUEENS OF EVIL, and RISKING, Lovelock provides the film’s folksy theme song “Maggie” as well as the song “Won’t Take Too Long” heard briefly during the last third of the film and over the final shot. The bulk of the film’s score is by Ubaldo Continiello – who also scored Deodato’s LAST CANNIBAL WORLD/JUNGLE HOLOCAUST – but it is not a particularly distinctive work; the two Lovelock songs, however, received a 45 release.
The son of actress Jacqueline Porel (LOVE ON A PILLOW) and actor Gerard Landry (LA BETE HUMAINE), Marc Porel had a short but prolific film career cut short by his early death in 1983 at age thirty-four from meningitis. Besides THE PSYCHIC, Porel also appeared in Fulci’s DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING. His other Italian crime credits were Gianni Martucci’s BLAZING FLOWERS, Duccio Tessari’s TONY ARZENTA (with Alain Delon), and LIVE LIKE A COP scripter Di Leo’s comedic LOADED GUNS with Ursula Andress. Porel also had a prominent role in Luchino Visconti’s last film L’INNOCENTE with his THE PSYCHIC co-star Jennifer O’Neill (he also appeared in Visconti’s epic LUDWIG). Two of his later genre appearances were in Enzo Milioni’s sleazy giallo THE SISTER OF URSULA and Mario Bava’s stylish final TV project LA VENERE D’ILLE – with Daria Nicolodi – from the Prosper Merimee tale about a recently unearthed statue of Venus come to life. His last film was Cesare Canevari’s conventional erotic thriller DELITTO CARNALE. Lovelock – the son of an Italian mother and British father, hence the name – had a diverse career in Italian exploitation, from gialli (OASIS OF FEAR, MURDER ROCK and AUTOPSY), to crime (RISKING, EMERGENCY SQUAD, ALMOST HUMAN, THE VIOLENT FOUR), horror (LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE and the arty QUEENS OF EVIL), westerns (DJANGO KILL), and sexploitation (PLAY MOTEL, LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH, and Di Leo’s TO BE TWENTY). He also made more mainstream appearances in VIOLENT CITY, THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, and FROM HELL TO VICTORY. More recently, he has had a number of appearances on Italian TV series. Sicilian-born Celi is perhaps best known to American audiences as the villain of the James Bond film THUNDERBALL (in which he was dubbed by prolific English dubbing artist Robert Rietty, who had a role in the Bond film’s remake NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN). Unlike some of the other actors, Celi’s career veered more towards the mainstream with roles in Luis Bunuel’s PHANTOM OF LIBERTY, Franco Zeffirelli’s BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON, Mark Robson’s VON RYAN’S EXPRESS, Carol Reed’s THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY, and Corrado Farina’s arty vampire flick THEY’VE CHANGED FACES. But his exploitation career included top tier entries like Bava’s DANGER: DIABOLIK, Romolo Guerrieri’s RING OF DEATH, Aldo Lado’s WHO SAW HER DIE?, Mario Lanfranchini’s arty western DEATH SENTENCE, Mario Ciaino’s EYE IN THE LABYRINTH, and Peter Collinson’s TEN LITTLE INDIANS. He had previously appeared in scripter Fernando Di Leo’s own THE ITALIAN CONNECTION.
Salvatori was married to French actress Annie Girardot, who he met on the set of Visconti’s ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS. In his younger years, Salvatori also worked with Vittorio De Sica in TWO WOMEN, Roberto Rossellini in ESCAPE BY NIGHT, and Mario Monicelli in BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET. As his looks weathered, he took on more character roles as in Jacques Deray’s FLIC STORY, and Costas-Gavras’ STATE OF SIEGE and Z (both starring Yves Montand). Dionisio and Lovelock had been childhood friends, having met on the set of John Schlesinger’s DARLING where they played two of the children of a Tuscan prince. She followed this up with a career as a model – including a Playboy shoot with her sister Sofia – and taking small roles in films like Mario Bava’s NAKED YOU DIE and RING OF DEATH. She appeared in episodes of two 1960s TV series directed by Deodato and his comedy VACANZE SULLA COSTA SMERALDA. She married Deodato in 1971 and starred in his film WAVE OF PLEASURE (which also featured a brief appearance by their son Saverio – now an actor – in the first scene) alongside Al Cliver (ZOMBIE), John Steiner (TENEBRAE), and Elizabeth Turner (BEYOND THE DOOR) for LIVE LIKE A COP producers Vincent Salviani and Alberto Marras. During this period, Deodato took a break from features and directed several TV commercials to stay in Rome so Dionisio to could get more work. During this period, she appeared as the only virginal daughter of the De Fiore family in ANDY WARHOL’S DRACULA, the love interest in Giuseppe Rosati’s FEAR IN THE CITY, and happy hookers in Ferdinando Baldi’s TERROR EXPRESS and… well, HAPPY HOOKERS. She also had a small role in Monicelli’s MY FRIENDS alongside Celi and her DRACULA co-star Milena Vukotic. Her last film role was in Riccardo Freda’s gory swan song MURDER OBSESSION (also forthcoming from Raro/eOne). Dionisio left acting in 1982 “to be a mother” according to Deodato (they were divorced in 1979). Dionisio’s sister Sofia was described by Deodato as “a failed actress” and had an even briefer film career – under the name Flavia Fabiani – than her sister. Her few other notable credits include appearances in Pier Carpi’s RING OF DARKNESS and Baldi’s NINE GUESTS FOR A CRIME. She and the uncredited actress who played Pasquini’s topless Swedish girlfriend provide the film’s skin – as Pasquini’s topless Swedish girlfriend – provide the film’s nudity. Citti spent much of the 1960s and early 1970s peopling Pier Paolo Pasolini’s oeuvre, including the lead roles in his ACCATONE and OEDIPUS REX. He also appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s THE GODFATHER (and returned in the third installment). By the mid-to-late 1970s, Citti was taking prominent supporting roles in both mainstream and exploitation fare including Carlo Lizzani’s KILL AND PRAY, Antonio Bido’s WATCH ME WHEN I KILL, Massimo Piri’s THE TUNNEL (with Helmut Berger and Corinne Clery), and Bernardo Bertolucci’s LA LUNA. Mase, who had a more prominent roll in Di Leo’s THE BOSS, got his start in the supporting cast of Visconti’s massive production THE LEOPARD alongside other leading man hopefuls whose careers encompassed both arthouse and exploitation such as Giuliano Gemma (TENEBRAE), Terence Hill (TRINITY), Lou Castel (ORGASMO), Maurizio Merli (FEARLESS FUZZ), and Pierre Clementi (BELLE DE JOUR). Mase’s first prominent leading role was alongside Castel in Marco Bellocchio’s masterful FISTS IN THE POCKET as the only normal member of a murderously dysfunctional family. His career included gialli (THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES), horror (LADY FRANKENSTEIN), spaghetti westerns (FIVE MAN ARMY), crime (CALLING ALL POLICE CARS), peplum (GOLIATH AT THE CONQUEST OF DAMASCUS), science fiction (ALIEN CONTAMINATION), and sexploitation (PLAY MOTEL, also with Lovelock), as well as art-house appearances in THE DRIVER’S SEAT and Liliana Cavani’s THE NIGHT PORTER (as Charlotte Rampling’s oblivious husband), and the occasional foreign production shot in Italy (PUSSYCAT, PUSSYCAT, I LOVE YOU). His brush with Dario Argento was a hard to see bit part as a news reporter in TENEBRAE. Corazzari started out as supporting bad guys in several spaghetti westerns like DEATH RIDES A HORSE, A LONG RIDE FROM HELL, Fulci’s FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE, and Bava’s ROY COLT AND WINCHESTER JACK. He became a very familiar face in Italian exploitation with supporting bits in Fulci’s THE PSYCHIC, THE BLACK CAT, Umberto Lenzi’s SEVENORCHIDS STAINED IN RED, Sergio Martino’s BLADE OF THE RIPPER, and a prominent role in Juan Bosch’s THE KILLER WORE GLOVES. Pulcrano also started out in westerns (BOUNTY HUNTER IN TRINITY), but seemed to find his niche briefly in crime films including Di Leo’s RULERS OF THE CITY and KIDNAP SYNDICATE, as well as Mario Bianchi’s LA BANDA ALLANZASCA and Bruno Corbucci’s HIT SQUAD with Tomas Milian.
Tom Felleghy (DAMNED IN VENICE) actually has some dialogue here during the hostage sequence. His prolific Italian exploitation CV includes bit roles in Argento’s CAT O’NINE TAILS, FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, and DEEP RED, as well as Martino’s ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK and CASE OF THE SCORPION’S TAIL, Enzo Casterelli’s ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX, Lenzi’s NIGHTMARE CITY, D’Amato’s EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD, as well as several uncredited roles including Martino’s MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD and VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS, Bruno Mattei’s and Claudio Fragasso’s THE OTHER HELL, Tinto Brass’ SALON KITTY, Massimo Dallamano’s THE NIGHT CHILD, Joe D’Amato’s THE ARENA and EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD, Antonio Margheriti’s SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT’S EYE, Lenzi’s SEVEN BLOODSTAINED ORCHIDS and OASIS OF FEAR, and Giorgio Ferroni’s NIGHT OF THE DEVILS. Horowitz – the third witch (with the least dialogue) in SUSPIRIA – was another bit player with a wealth of Italian genre credits including Francisco Barilli’s PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK as heroine Mimsy Farmer’s ROSEMARY’S BABY-esque neighbors, Giulio Questi’s bizarre DEATH LAID AN EGG, Mario Ciaino’s NAZI LOVE CAMP 27, Casterelli’s THE HEROIN BUSTERS, Margheriti’s WILD, WILD PLANET, as well as uncredited parts in Argento’s CAT O’NINE TAILS, Dallamano’s COLT .38 SPECIAL SQUAD, and Sergio Pastore’s CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT. She had a larger role as Burt Lancaster’s housekeeper in Visconti’s CONVERSATION PIECE.
LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN was never released in the U.S., but it had a cut theatrical release under that title in the UK and then an uncut pre-cert tape release as THE TERMINATORS. Raro Video’s Italian region 0 PAL DVD featured a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer with English and Italian audio and optional subtitles in English. The Italian import also had an audio problem in which the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English track only played through the left speaker. The film source is likely the same for both editions, but Raro Video/eOne’s NTSC release is a dual-layer, progressive, 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer from a new high definition master, and the audio defect on the import is corrected here. With over an hour of extras on the dual-layer disc, the featurette is encoded a single-layer bitrate. The image is generally strong – strong enough to reveal the obvious boat model in the last shot (they didn’t even bother to trim down the surrounding reeds which look gargantuan next to the model) – with strong close-ups. Several of the long shots during the opening chase scene are always going to look weak because they were shot quickly without permit (Mancori may not have shot this footage).
The featurette “Violent Cops” (40:43) is another fairly comprehensive Raro featurette that expertly intercuts the separately-recorded comments of a number of participants in the film, and does not over-rely on clips from the film. Lovelock mentions that the film is a favorite because Deodato used a couple of his songs, and Deodato expresses his preference for ballads in his films’ scores; hence, the gentle themes heard in the brutal CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK. Lovelock does not recall any tension with Porel on the set. He describes himself as a “match waiting for a spark,” while Deodato describes him as “quiet and adorable” in contrast to Porel’s egotism (he reportedly compared himself favorably with Alain Delon and Jean Gabin) and tantrums. Deodato compares his ex-wife Sylvia to Ingrid Bergman, and describes her sister Sofia as a “failed actress.” Weapons expert Galimberti (RULERS OF THE CITY) both comment on the film’s opening chase scene (which was shot after the rest of the film and actually had to be reshot). Producer Armando Novelli (CALIBER 9) is also on hand to discuss how Deodato ended up directing a Fernando Di Leo screenplay. Deodato mentions that he shot a more graphic version of the eye gouging sequence, but it was censored before release (although the liner notes claim that the DVD is longer than the Italian theatrical release). The liner notes booklet suggests that the sequel did not happen because Porel and Lovelock disliked each other, but Lovelock claims not to have noticed any tension on the set with his co-star, while Deodato says that the sequel was never made due to a disagreement between the two actors’ agents and because one of the producers wanted Deodato to direct and the other producer wanted to direct it himself. Al Cliver (ZOMBIE) is also on hand to describe how Deodato offered him one of the leads in LIVE LIKE A MAN, DIE LIKE A COP since he had previously starred in Deodato’s WAVE OF LUST (with Dionisio), but that he chose another part in a film that bombed. On the import, the documentary featured optional English subtitles, but the TV commercials did not. They have been subtitled on the American disc. Deodato provides loose commentary over a selection of television commercials (20:20) he directed during the seventies – after he had started his film career – for products ranging from tires, to Kraft cheese slices, cream cheese, oven degreasers, and beer. These are not the thirty-second or minute-long spots American viewers are used to on TV, these range anywhere from two to three minutes and are sort of mini-films that have very little to do with the actual product other than showing it at the end (a medieval pilgrim is menaced by jousters and has to walk over hot coals before getting a car with Esso tires and French singer Nino Ferrer constantly has his attempt at a country weekend of cycling and fishing ruined before settling down for a simple cheese sandwich [he carries the individually wrapped slices in his shirt pocket]). A text filmography/biography of Deodato is the only other extra. (Eric Cotenas)
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