Street Law / Il cittadino si ribella (1974)

5.0 out of 5

Enzo Castellari revisits the prototype Genovese crimer elements that made High Crime so enjoyable, namely a slam-bang first 20 minutes that packs in all the necessary ingredients: a great credits sequence and a stirring DeAngelis brothers theme. There's also remarkable freeze-frames and the familiar, brutal bank robbery carried out by a gang of sweaty goons, led by what sounds like Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. This, with a tightly paced car chase, a sensational motorcycle stunt, and plenty of swish-pans and slow-motion destruction to cap it off, the movie keeps supplying its coffers with quality crimer material for its entire running time.

Franco Nero plays a reasonably honest man who gets robbed, kidnapped, beaten and humiliated twice by the same gang of criminals. Nero's quest for revenge is, thankfully, not burdened by a lot of rhetoric-heavy monologues about citizen's rights and the law as those of his co-stars, including Timothy Brent aka Giancarlo Prete, years away from his powerful dramatic turn as Skorpion in Castellari's The New Barbarians. Prete helps Nero in his efforts to kill the men who injured Nero's delicate pride, but the plot functions more as a Hardy Boys mystery for the movie's remaining 45 minutes.

Nero says: "If you want to be free, you must learn to resist!", and that's about it for explanations until he smacks girlfriend Barbara Bach following her own rhetoric-heavy monologue about citizens' rights and the Law. Once the bludgeoning action kicks in for the remainder of the flick, the movie shows a remarkable amount of maturity, exploring the psychology of vigilantes vs criminals, at least in regard to Prete's character. This, in between multiple squibs and flattened heads.

The pulsing score has got to be one of the best works composed by the DeAngelis brothers. Nero's eternal looks of alarm and astonishment almost threaten to break the record he set in Cry, Onion.

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