Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Street Law

A few months ago I reviewed Vigilante and said I may follow up with a review of its Italian counterpart. Well, here it is:

This film tells the story of a righteous Italian citizen, Carlo Antonelli (played by the legendary Franco Nero), and his quest for justice. Antonelli is caught in the middle of a bank robbery and later kidnapped and beaten. He goes to the police and finds that they are incapable of providing any means of justice or assistance. He then enlists the help of a criminal, Tommy (Giancarlo Prete), to set up his revenge plot. Much to his girlfriend's (Barbara Bach) dismay, Antonelli creates a scenario that springs police into action and criminals into hiding.

I thought everything was spot on in this film. Franco Nero played his part with an incredible amount of passion. You could see the pain in his face during every shot and every scene. It also helped immensely that Nero performed all of his stunts. The director, Enzo Castellari had worked with Nero quite a bit during their careers and I think it comes out strong in this movie. Castellari knew Nero's strengths and ran with them.

Castellari did some unique things in this film compared to most in the revenge genre. All of the crimes during the beginning credits were based off of actual news and police reports. He wanted the plot to really reflect the mentality of citizens in the city. I also enjoyed how immersed into the criminal world Antonelli was. As most revenge films do, Street Law looks how someone can fight violence with violence and not become what they are fighting against. Even Antonelli's growing friendship with the criminal Tommy shows the similarities between the two characters.

Besides being incredibly well done, there was a lot of interesting facts surrounding film. First of all, tell me how this is a sequel when Street Law was released in 1975 and Vigilante was released in 1985. Even William Lustig credited this as being an inspiration for Vigilante. Also, Enzo Castellari was fairly infamous in Italian cinema for inventing the Italian police thriller genre. He worked with Franco Nero on an earlier film called High Crime and this was the first time Italian audiences had seen a film like this that wasn't from the States. Both films were great successes and sparked hundreds of other similar Italian films to be made.

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