Wednesday, July 10, 2019

THE TOUGH ONES (1976) (Grindhouse Releasing 3-Disc Deluxe Edition Blu-ray Review)


Label: Grindhouse Releasing
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 94 Minutes
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0, Italian: DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1) 
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Maria Rosario Omaggion, Ivan Rassimov, Arthur Kennedy

With Rome spiraling into violent mayhem Inspector Leonardo Tanzi (Maurizio Merli, Violent City) has had just about enough of by-the-book policing, he's willing if need be a bit to see that some form of justice is served to the criminal scum of the city, much to the chagrin of the Chief of Police (Arthur Kennedy, The Sentinel) and the slightly more sympathetic Commissioner Caputo (Giampiero Albertini, The Case of the Bloody Iris) 

Tanzi's violent methods and brute force get him sidelined, assigned to a desk, but that desk won't stop a good cop from breaking a few heads, especially if one of those skulls being cracked is that of criminal ringleader Vincenzo Moretto (Tomas Milian, The Big Gundown), a hunchback who moonlights as a butcher at the local slaughterhouse, who more or less proves to be Tanzi's nemesis in the film.  

The story line here plays it fast and loose, threadbare at best really, with the film rollicking along with a series of violent vignettes, Tanzi's bosses yelling at him, his lover being kidnapped and tormented, and him going after a group of rapey teenagers and a playboy sleazoid (Ivan Rassimov, Eaten Alive) with a penchant for shooting young girls full of heroin.  

Umberto Lenzi's action-packed angry-cop film cuts a few corners in regard to plotting but it's all in on the in-your-face, all-guns-blazing action that made these high-octane Italian 70's police films so much fun, and this certainly is a fun slice of crime-cinema.  

Lead Maurizio Merli is 70's mustached-machismo perfection here as a good cop gone rogue, and Tomas Milian's bullet-eating, hunchbacked criminal menace is super-fun, one in a long line of strange character that guy has played, playing well against each other, with their scenes together being some of the  best stuff the film has to offer. 

The Tough Ones (1976) is not a tough one to love, if you dig seedy 70's crime cinema of the Italian variety there's a lot to love about this particularly violent poliziottesco film. 

Audio/Video: The Tough Ones (1976) arrives on Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing with a brand new 4K restoration looking impressive for it's vintage, coming from a fine-looking source that appears nearly blemish free, the grain is well-managed which gives it a very filmic appearance throughout. The color grading looks gorgeous, with the reds and greens having some nice life to them. While there's what looks to be some very light fading in a few spots overall the disc delivers a gorgeous 1080p image with strong black levels. 

The film has a pair of audio options, you can watch it in English or Italian DTS-HD MA Mono 2.0 with optional English subtitles. To my ears the Italian track has a bit more depth and is better balanced but my personal
preference was the English-dub, there's something about Italian films and the canned, semi-flat dubbing that always appeals to me. The dialogue and the cool Franco Micalizzi score sound lovely, free of any distortions that I could pick up on. 

Grindhouse deliver on the extras beginning with the first disc, containing an audio commentary from Mike Malloy, the director of Eurocrime! The Italian Cop And Gangster Films That Ruled The 70's (2014) doc, and it's a keeper. Mixing a scholarly knowledge of 70's violent cop films with an enthusiastic love of the genre, it makes for an easy and entertaining listen. 

Another very solid extras is the 84-min feature-length doc 'All Eyes on Lenzi' which previously appeared on the 88 Films release of Eyeball (1975), we are treated to interviews with the late director plus author/critics John Martin, Manlio Gomarasca and Rachael Nisbet, director Calum Waddell and actors Danilo Mattei and Giovanni Lombardo Radice, filmmaker Scooter McCrae and more. It's a loving tribute the the genre-hopping director covering all facets of his career, there's a lot of love here for the man, but not so much from actor Lombardo Radice who not only loathes the film he made with Lenzi, Cannibal Ferox

The 33-min Music for Mayhem, a 2010 reunion between director Lenzi and composer Micalizzi. The conversation between the pair is in Italian with English subtitles, discussing how they came together and their professional  relationship, discussing actor Tomas Milian and the score from this film in particular. 

We also get some cool carry-over from the previous DVD release of the film from No Shame Films, a 22-min piece that covers Rome appearing in films through the years, also containing a then and now comparison of the locations used in this film. Disc one is buttoned-up with a 1-min VHS trailer under the alternate title Assault With A Deadly Weapon, plus a goofy 2-min introduction recorded for Sybil Danning’s Adventure Video VHS release of the film. There's also a 4-min international trailer for the film, plus a Grindhouse trailer reel featuring Cannibal Holocaust (1 min), Cannibal Ferox (4 min), Massacre Mafia Style (2 min), Gone with the Pope (2 min), Pieces (1 min), Scum of the Earth (2 min), The Tough Ones (4 min), The Beyond (3 min), Cat in the Brain (2 min), Corruption (2 min), An American Hippie in Israel (3 min), The Tough Ones, The Swimmer (3 min), The Big Gundown (2 min), I Drink Your Blood (3 min), Captive Female (2 min), Death Game (3 min), and Ice House (3 min). 

The second disc is stuffed to the gills with both archival and brand new interviews. Vintage and archival stuff comes by way of the very colorful 'Umberto', a 46-min interview with the director, plus we get a 45-min archival doc about the late Italian character actor Maurizio Merli, and an 6-min interview with Tomas Milian from 2011. 

New stuff comes by way of the 46-min 'Corrado Armed to the Teeth' with Italian actor Corrado Solari who played baddie Albinoin the film, actress Maria Rosaria Riuzz shows up in the 14-min interview titled 'Brutal City', 'Beauty and the Beasts' is a 30-min interview with actress Maria Rosaria Omaggio, and costume designer Sandra Cardini shows up for a 20-min conversation. The interviews on disc two are capped off with 'Vodka Cigarettes and Burroughs', a 40-min interview with prolific Italian screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti (The Beyond), plus we get a 37-min interview with composer Franco Micalizz. The second disc is finished-up with a huge selection of international promotional images from the film. There's also some nifty Easter Eggs tucked away on both discs, including a tribute to Grindhouse Releasing co-founder Sage Stallone.  

Grindhouse go the extra mile and includes the entire 17-track soundtrack from composer Franco Micalizz housed in a cardboard slipcover with some cool artwork and a track-listing on the backside.

The three-disc set arrives in an over-sized clear Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork and a sturdy embossed slipcase. Inside there's a 12-page booklet with writing about the film from Roberto Curti, plus my copy came with a cool custom 30-caliber bullet pen!

Grindhouse have really put a lot of love into this Italian crime film, the new 4K restoration looks and sounds fantastic, the packaging is gorgeous and the extras are overwhelming, you even get a CD soundtrack on top of all that! This is easily the definitive release of this film, it's a very complete package, and one that gives a lot of love to director Umberto Lenzo, and the stars; Tomas Milian and Maurizio Merli, highly recommended.


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