Violent Naples (1976).

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Barry Sullivan, and Elio Zamuto

Cult director Umberto Lenzi is probably most famous for his shocking Cannibal films “Cannibal Ferox” (1981) and “Mangiati Vivi” (1980). These are of course memorable films and more than worth watching for every exploitation fan, but, as far as I am concerned, Lenzi’s greatest films date back to the 70s. Especially his mean-spirited and ultra-violent Poliziotteschi are absolutely essential to every lover of Italian Cult-cinema. “Napoli Violenta” aka. “Violent Naples” of 1976 is another action-packed, adrenaline-driven, ultra-violent and delightfully politically incorrect cop-thriller that no fan of Italian genre cinema should consider missing. While it is, in my opinion, just not quite as brilliant as Lenzi’s foregoing Poliziottesschi “Milano Odia: La Polizia Non Può Sparare” (aka. “Almost Human”, 1974) and “Roma A Mano Armata” (aka. “Rome Armed To The Teeth”, 1976″), which is mainly due to the lack of the great Tomas Milian, who played sadistic criminals in these two films, this is yet another great and outrageously brutal Poliziottesco from Lenzi.

Genre-star Maurizio Merli stars in the role of Comissario Betti for the third time (the first two Commissario Betti films were Marino Girolami’s “Roma Violenta” of 1975 and “Italia A Mano Armata” of 1976, two priorities on my list of films that I haven’t seen yet). Betti, who is known for his unorthodox methods hates criminals as much as he hates crime, and he has does not keep his beliefs a secret. When he comes to Naples, where he has worked earlier, the local criminal underworld, above all the Camorra, the Mafia of Naples, are already getting nervous, as they know that the Comissario, who has no mercy for criminals, is dedicated to clean up… Merli is once again great as the mustached and unorthodox copper Betti, who treats criminals in a way that makes Dirty Harry look like a social worker. The cast also includes the great John Saxon, and Barry Sullivan in the role of a Mafia-boss called “Comandante”. The supporting cast furthermore includes many familiar faces for Italian genre fans, such as Guido Alberti as the chief of police, or the butt-ugly Luciano Rossi as a sadistic mugger. The score by Franco Micalizzi, who also delivered the score to “Roma A Mano Armata”, is once again very good, and the camera work is fast-paced and great. “Napoli Violenta” is generally a violent film, and it has several moments of outrageous brutality. I will not give away more, but I am sure that most of my fellow Poliziotteschi fans will enjoy the film as much as I did. Brutal, gripping and breathtaking, “Napoli Violenta” is a film that fans of Italian Crime/Police films can not afford to miss!

by Benjamin Gauss (Salzburg, Austria)

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