* * *1\2
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Fabio Testi, Ivana Monti, Guido Alberti, and Marcel Bozzuffi
Luca Di Angelo (Testi) is a Naples-based cigarette smuggler. He and his smuggling buddies ride their speedboats up and down the Italian waterways to deliver the goods, but it’s never anything really harmful like drugs. Luca has a wife and young son, and doesn’t want to jeopardize their lives. Things turn deadly serious when a French drug kingpin, known as The Marsigliese (Bozzuffi) decides he wants to move into the Italian territory, with hard drugs and all. Being a sadistic torturer, he murders, tortures, disfigures or mutilates anyone who gets in his way. When his wife Adele (Monti) is kidnapped, the normally mild-mannered Luca goes on a rampage of revenge the likes of which Naples has never seen. Will Luca get out alive?
While not, strictly speaking, a Poliziotteschi (because the role of the police is pretty limited and it’s not a procedural), director Fulci has crafted some kind of cross between the crime films prevalent at the time, and the gore films he is most known for these days. It’s all beautifully shot by cinematographer/master Sergio Salvati, and the make-up effects brilliantly done by artist/master Franco Di Girolamo and his team, and the music is stellar as well, done by the great Fabio Frizzi. These men and others help make Contraband a very well-made and entertaining movie. But it’s not for everyone. Anyone who reads this site will surely love it, but the level of violence is definitely over the top - in an awesome way, of course.
You have to transport yourself back to 1980 - while characters are playing Pong and going to the discotheque (while wearing some amazing clothing), they also are being subjected to what had to have been new heights (or depths, depending on your outlook) of blood, guts, and gore. Even today with our jaded and experienced eyes, it’s powerful - imagine what they thought back then? There’s other things that presage the oncoming 80’s as well, such as the sax on the soundtrack, a couple of blow-ups and fights, and a kid with the time-honored bowl haircut.
Fabio Testi is charismatic and likable, and he has a truly amazing fur coat at one point. Thankfully, Contraband was made long before political correctness. But besides all that, it’s just a good, solid movie, well-made on all fronts. Fulci was truly a maestro and this is one of the feathers in his cap. He was undoubtedly a man ahead of his time, yet firmly rooted in the traditions of the past. The way he marries the two is an example of his no-rules genius. Look for him in a tiny cameo at the very end of the movie as one of the shooters. The Blue Underground DVD is excellent, although it would have been nice to have an Italian track with subtitles, instead of a no-options dubbed version. But that’s a minor quibble, as this fine film is well worth owning.
Contraband is just great. If you haven’t already, we definitely recommend purchasing the DVD.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty
Also check out a write-up from our buddy, A Hero Never Dies!