Rogue Cops and Racketeers: Two Crime Thrillers By Enzo G. Castellari

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Synopsis

Over a long and wide-ranging career, director Enzo G. Castellari (Keoma, The Inglorious Bastards) helmed some of the most infamous of all the poliziotteschi – the gritty, action-packed crime films that proliferated in Italy throughout the 70s. Buckle up for a heart-stopping thrill ride through the seedy underbelly of Italian society in two of his most celebrated thrillers! In 1976’s The Big Racket, Inspector Nico Palmieri (Fabio Testi, What Have You Done to Solange?) is hot on the heels of a gang of ruthless racketeers. Realizing he’s not going to get anywhere within the confines of the law, Nico recruits a crack squad of civilians to dole out their own brand of justice. Then, in 1977’s The Heroin Busters, rule-flouting cop Fabio (Testi) goes deep undercover, chasing a globe-trotting ring of drug-smugglers suspected to be operating out of Rome. But can he and Mike Hamilton (David Hemmings, Deep Red), an Interpol agent with a hair-trigger temper, stay one step ahead of the criminals long enough to bring them down from the inside? Featuring death-defying stunts, explosive shoot-outs and a pair of addictive, toe-tapping soundtracks courtesy of the De Angelis brothers (Torso) and legendary prog rock group Goblin (Suspiria), these two films represent the crème de la crème of the Italian crime thriller, both making their high definition debuts with stunning new restorations in this feature-packed box set from Arrow!

Picture 8/10

Arrow Video’s latest box set, Rogue Cops and Racketeers: Two Crime Thrillers by Enzo G. Castellari, presents the films The Big Racket and The Heroin Busters on Blu-ray. Each film appears on an individual dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Both films have been given 1080p/24hz high-definition encodes sourced from new 2K restorations performed by Arrow Video and L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna. Both were scanned from the 35mm original negative.

Both films are of about the same quality, delivering a lovely film texture thanks to solid encodes that render the grain effectively. Details are sharp and clear, even the finer points of the landscapes (like the rocks and pebbles along a hillside for example) leaping clearly from the screen. The restorations have been thorough, cleaning out most of the damage, only a few minor marks and some minor pulses and fluctuations remaining.

Colours for both films do lean warmer with a slight yellow tint, but it’s not too heavy thankfully, whites at least looking and warm and blues looking blue instead of cyan. Black levels are also rich and deep, though details and range are limited in the shadows.

More details can be found for each title using the navigation above or below.

Audio 0/10

Both films come with English and Italian soundtracks, both in DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono. The Italian tracks on both are a bit sharper in comparison to their English counterparts, but all of the tracks sound like clear dubs, detached from the action on screen. Dialogue can be a bit hollow and range is limited, except during action scenes where things get a bit louder, though with a slight edge to it all.

Extras 8/10

Arrow packs on a few new interviews with members of the cast and crew, spreading the material over the two discs to be specific to each film. Both The Big Racket and The Heroin Busters feature interviews with director Enzo G. Castellari, editor Gianfranco Amicucci, and actors Fabio Testi and Massimo Vanni. Vanni’s two interviews end up being surprisingly insightful thanks to his sharing of first-hand stories around the technical details behind some of the action sequences found in the two films. I also enjoyed Amicucci’s contributions, especially when he gets into the minutiae of editing action sequences, though his rant about the state of cinema in his second interview feels a little out of touch. The Heroin Busters also features a new interview with former undercover officer and consultant on the film Nicola Longo, who was also the basis for Testi’s character in the film.

Arrow then includes some academic content, including an interview with musician and “disc collector” Lovely Jon to talk about the respective scores for each film, where he offers breakdowns and talks about the differences between a composer score and a band score. Each disc also features new audio commentaries by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint. I found their track for The Heroin Busters to be the better of the two since their conversation feels to flow in a more natural manner (at least slightly) but they’re both good tracks, the two admiring the structure and editing of both films, touching on their respective influences since, and even defending them from criticisms thrown about through the years, particularly from the accusations that the films are fascist. The discs also includes a trailer for each film along with galleries featuring posters, lobby cards, photos, and other paraphernalia.

Both discs are then housed in their own clear Blu-ray case, which each contain collectible postcards featuring stills from their respective film. The two cases are then held in a sturdy cardboard sleeve alongside 58-page booklet. The booklet features lengthy essays on each film, Roberto Curti covering The Big Racket, Barry Forshaw covering The Heroin Busters. It’s a lovely looking set with some great supplemental material.

More details can be found for each title using the navigation above or below.

Closing

Though the set only carries two films, it’s a nice looking one and features two excellent presentations alongside an engaging set of features.

Part of a multi-title set

BUY AT: Amazon.com Amazon.ca

 
 
Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari
Year: 1976 | 1977
Time: 104 | 100 min.
 
Series: Arrow Video
Licensor: Intramovies
Release Date: April 19 2022
MSRP: $69.95
 
Blu-ray
2 Discs | BD-50
1.85:1 ratio
1.85:1 ratio
English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Italian 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Italian 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Subtitles: English
Regions A/B/C
 
 The Years of Racketeering, a new video interview with co-writer/director Enzo G. Castellari   Violent Times, a new video interview with actor Fabio Testi   Angel Face for a Tough Guy, a new video interview with actor Massimo Vanni   King of Movieola, a new video interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci   The Great Racket, a new appreciation and career retrospective of composers Guido and Maurizio De Angelis by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon   Theatrical trailer   Image gallery   Endless Pursuit, a new video interview with co-writer/director Enzo G. Castellari   Drug Squad, a new video interview with actor Fabio Testi   The Drug Dealer, a new video interview with actor Massimo Vanni   How They Killed Italian Cinema, a new video interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci   A Cop on the Set, a new video interview with retired poliziotto and criminologist Nicola Longo   The Eardrum Busters, a new appreciation and career retrospective of composers Goblin by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon   Theatrical trailer   Image gallery   Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Roberto Curti and Barry Forshaw   Twelve double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards   New audio commentary on by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint   New audio commentary on by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint