Free Hand for a Tough Cop / Il trucido e lo sbirro (1976)

3.5 out of 5

Claudio Cassinelli is the tough cop who uses a free hand to enlist the help of the criminal fraternity, as in Revolver or Street Law, to track down a desparate gang. In this instance a gang of kidnappers who hold a young girl in a farmhouse basement La orca style.

Delivering on the promise of the title Umberto Lenzi provides the viewer with plenty of bloody gunbattles, including a great finale, fist fights and trademark wheel view car chases through a number of locations that will be recognisable to Eurocrime aficionados. A barge used in the delightfully nihilistic Milano trema - la polizia vuole giustizia aka Almost Human is also revisited.

Tomas Milian plays a scruffy jailbird, the brother of the hunchback in Roma a mano armata, and reprised both roles in the more comedic Brothers Til We Die. A gallery of familiar hoods include Luciano Rossi and Giuseppe Castellano and with the appearance of Antonio Casale the viewer is reminded, with an early train escape, of a similar segment in Violent Professionals.

A lightweigh poliziottesco, procedural and political concerns are cast aside for a series of action set pieces delivering much of what would be expected from the genre when it is distilled into it's most exciting components.

Genre cinema culture vulture who are on the look out for the minor details may note that lobby posters for Salon Kitty and I senza nome are shown while a bottle of J and B is displayed in almost Biblical grandeur, beautifully framed in a shot of loving close up and spotlighted in a clearing mist of a tear gas in what is surely one of the most majestic moments of familiar Italian genre cinema product placement.

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