The Big Racket

Part of a multi-title set | Rogue Cops and Racketeers: Two Crime Thrillers By Enzo G. Castellari

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Synopsis

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.

Picture 8/10

Arrow Video presents Enzo G. Castellari The Big Racket on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a new 2K restoration performed by Arrow Films and L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna, scanned from the 35mm original negative. The film is currently exclusively available in Arrow’s new Rogue Cops and Racketeers box set.

Based solely on how most recent Arrow restorations and presentations turn out of late I went in to this one expecting a clean and sharp looking image with a nice film texture to it and my expectations were more than met. There is the occasional pulse and minor mark to pop up but the restoration work has been more than thorough otherwise, managing to remove larger marks and images without negatively impacting the final image. Film grain is rendered cleanly, aiding in the delivery of finer details and textures, whether it be from a shot along a rocky hillside (as a car goes tumbling down) or a close-up of a sweaty face.

The colours do lean warmer, as expected, though in a milder manner compared to other Ritrovata restorations; blues are still there and whites don’t look to be soaked in yellow, if leaning on the warmer side. Black levels are also fairly deep and inky without coming off mushy or milky, though some darker sequences present heavier blacks that can limit details in the shadows.

It’s yet another sharp looking, film-like presentation from Arrow.

Audio 6/10

The release includes two audio tracks, one in Italian and one in English, both in DTS-HD MA 1.0 monaural. The Italian track may be a little bit sharper but both end up having that dubbed, detached feel anyways (because they are both dubbed tracks) so ultimately, as to which one to go with, it will come down to personal preference, mine being the English because I like hearing Vincent Gardenia's actual voice. Dialogue sounds clear on both, music is fine (if a little edgy at times) and there’s no damage to speak of. They’re both clean and clear.

Extras 8/10

Included with Castellari’s follow-up film The Heroin Busters in Arrow’s box set Rogue Cops and Racketeers, The Big Racket comes stacked with a number of new features, starting things out with a brand-new audio commentary recorded by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint. It's a decently put together track, the two talking about the film’s director, Enzo G. Castellari, and the rise in output of Italian crime films during the 70’s due to the political climate of the time, the two referencing the “Years of Lead.” They also address the criticisms thrown at the film, many calling the film, and many of its ilk, fascist, and the two work to counter those criticisms a bit. Other similar crime/revenge films come up (with even Death Wish getting a few mentions due to some coincidental links) and the two offer up their thoughts on how these types of films reflect the period and how they would influence later films. Despite the two managing to keep the track going they sometimes feel to be struggling for material, but it manages to be (along with their track on The Heroin Busters) an okay primer for the sub-genre, even if one has already gone through Arrow’s Years of Lead box set from last year.

The remaining supplements are all interviews with members of the cast and crew, including director Castellari (30-minutes), actor Fabio Testi (19-minutes) and editor Gianfranco Amicucci (28-minutes). Both the director and star talk a little about their earlier careers before moving on to The Big Racket, the two talking about social and political issues the film tackled while also sharing details about some of the more technically problematic aspects of the production, like a stunt involving a car rolling down the hill with Testi in it. Amicucci’s contribution is probably my favourite of the three, the editor getting into the art of editing with a Movieola before talking about what went into constructing cohesive action sequences from what was filmed, finding the appropriate focus. He also talks a bit about sound effects editing, mentioning the work done on Castellari’s Keoma.

Actor Massimo Vanni (who played one of the villains) also pops up with a very lengthy interview running around 43-minutes. He talks about Castellari (who is his second cousin) and working with the other actors, but a good chunk of his interview ends up focusing around some of the stunt and effects work that went into some of the film’s action scenes, from that car rolling down the hill to the use of guns and fake blood in the shoot outs. Musician and “disc collector” Lovely Jon then shows up for his own 44-minute contribution to discuss the score created by brothers Guido and Maurizo De Angelis. The first half consists of background for the musicians, Jon getting into some of their albums and singles, before moving on to their film work and The Big Racket, deconstructing a few sequences in the film and explaining how the music compliments the action onscreen. The piece has also been nicely edited to offer visual aids. I didn’t find the score all that impressive, to be honest, yet this still ended up being an interesting academic addition, the background of the brothers proving to be fascinating.

The disc then closes with a trailer and an image gallery. In all it's an impressive roster of material, with a nice focus on the technical aspects of the film and the influence it has had since. Also impressive is that it doesn’t repeat much of what is found on the disc for The Heroin Busters.

Closing

Not all that surprising but Arrow delivers a sharp looking presentation and detailed interviews around the film’s production.

Part of a multi-title set | Rogue Cops and Racketeers: Two Crime Thrillers By Enzo G. Castellari

BUY AT: Amazon.com Amazon.ca

 
 
Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari
Year: 1976
Time: 104 min.
 
Series: Arrow Video
Licensor: Intramovies
Release Date: April 19 2022
MSRP: $69.95  (Box set exclusive)
 
Blu-ray
1 Disc | BD-50
1.85:1 ratio
English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Italian 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Subtitles: English
Regions A/B/C
 
 New audio commentary on by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint   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