One great forgotten thriller and one forgettable one
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 11/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although pretty much forgotten, The Last Round aka Il Conto é Chiuso is a good example of a familiar story made fresh by the quality of its execution, as a stranger drifts into a decaying Italian industrial looking to settle an old score. But this violent modern-day (well, 1976) poliziotteschi is closer to Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest than the first two films it inspired, Yojimbo and Fistful of Dollars, set in its own Italian Poisonville divided between two rival gangs that he soon sets against each other. Surprisingly, despite being directed by the sometimes more adequate than inspired Stelvio Massi, it's shot with striking visual imagination and remarkably fluid camerawork from Franco Delli Colli. The two leads are impressive too, with Luc Merenda a wonderfully effective dapper villain and undefeated middleweight champion boxer and offscreen wife-beater and murderer Carlos Monzon a surprisingly effective leading man in the mould of a young Charles Bronson.
NoShame's R1 DVD of this impressive little sleeper boasts an exceptionally good transfer aside from a couple of minor glitches on two shots, as well as one of the more surreal DVD extras of recent years - a 35-minute tour of Merenda's Paris antique shop! Also included are the Italian and American trailers, dubbed English and subtitled Italian soundtracks, poster and still gallery, booklet and a 47-minute CD of cover versions of cues from other Italian exploitation movies.
A Man Called Magnum aka Napoli Si Ribella/Naples Turns On Itself isn't in the same class. In fact, despite bland good cop Meranda's interesting relationship with his sidekick, an intriguing but underused twist involving the identity of a police informer and one good car stunt where he stops a train carrying two hitmen by crashing his car on the tracks, it's pretty average in every department. The hero has little to do for the first hour as the various gangsters double-cross and kill each other over a hijacked drugs shipment and, a couple of chase sequences aside, there's not much action and even less imagination. Not objectionable and certainly watchable, but even in 1977 you'd seen it all before.
The DVD transfer isn't as good as The Last Round but is more than acceptable, with subtitled Italian and dubbed English language tracks, an audio commentary by director Michele Massimo Taranti, unenlightening 16-minute interview with Meranda, stills and poster gallery and booklet.