.44 Specialist, The / Mark colpisce ancora (1976)

2.0 out of 5

Franco Gasparri appears in the last installment of the popular Mark the Cop series, but here there are some troubling continuity issues: first, where's his lifelong dog partner, Whiskey? Second, why change the man's ethnic status to Roman? And third, why the grotesque, but no less amazing, perm? Gasparri wanders rather aimlessly through a plot involving extremely violent terrorists, who possess no evident purpose or politics other than to machine-gun lots of people. They pose little threat in exposing Mark's undercover disguise.

Director Stelvio Massi keeps a solid pace with his usual snappy (and beautiful) rack focuses, smash-zooms, and other action camera-work. But aside from Gasparri's impeccable David Hess perm, and a few empty liaisons with a blondie and a brunette, there's no intensity to the proceedings.

John Saxon provides some existential nonsense about terrorist violence being the result of the devil's existence, "as well as God's", before being riddled with machine-gun fire. John Steiner's sputtering German terrorist shows less emotion about his evil deeds than he does rant, and rave, and expertly lock and load a Sten gun, this something he does with considerable style. But Steiner can do this kind of role in his sleep.

Rome, Milan, and Vienna make appearances, as the movie's locations are impressive, plus there's a sporadically interesting score. Inserts of acid-jazz here and there keep the soundtrack from being totally unremarkable. A train holdup packs some suspense, as well. Film's ending is hyper-abrupt and comes with its own absurd hippie flute.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics