31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
After watching way too many poor transfers of Euro films from the seventies, it's a real treat when I get a chance to see them released by a studio that actually cares what the final product looks like. In my opinion, Raro Video did an outstanding job with these four films, from the production value of the transfers to the package as a whole. I'm not going to imply that each one of these films is a five-star effort - even though fans of this director and this genre will most likely rate them very high, while others may nitpick at them - rather that it is the collection itself that I'm rating as top of the line, one that any enthusiast of Eurocrime or seventies cinema will find it well worth their time to track down.
Were I to rate them separately, I would give each film four stars - they all have their plusses and minuses, which seem inextricably linked in each. The first three films - Caliber 9, The Italian Connection, and The Boss - are part of Di Leo's 'Milieu Trilogy', a loosely linked series that doesn't follow a continuous storyline, but rather examines the criminal landscape of Italy in the early 1970's. Taking inspiration from the stories of Russian-born émigré Giorgio Scerbanenco, 'Caliber 9' (Milano Calibro 9) may very well be the overall best of the three, with Gastone Moschin taking up the part of the just-released convict Ugo Piazza, whom the berserk Mario Adorf suspects of having stolen money from his organization prior to the start of his three year-prison sentence. Labeled as noir by some, with a plot twisting and turning as well as anything by Chandler or Hammett, this film has one remarkable ending.
Mario Adorf returns in 'The Italian Connection' (La Mala Ordina) as a small-time pimp and hustler Luca Canali who gets served up as a fall-guy for two American hit men (Woody Strode and Henry Silva), who are sent to Milan to make an example of the man who stole a shipment of heroin. On the run, with nothing to lose, its either fight back against the overwhelming odds or die. This one is also based on a Scerbanenca story, and though I don't think it's quite on the same level as 'Caliber 9', it is still an extremely entertaining film. Henry Silva is back again in the trilogy's final installment, 'The Boss' (Il Boss), as bit-player Nick Lanzetta, and the film tracks his violent climb to the top of the organization. Somewhat talky, which slows down the film in spots, Silva still shines as an ice-cold killer.
The last film, supposedly exclusive to this box set, is 'Rulers of the City' (I Padroni della Città) with Jack Palance, Al Cliver and Harry Baer. This film seems somewhat mislabeled as a comedy - it is a bit more light-hearted than the others, but that's about it. Baer (looking like nothing so much as the younger brother of Robert Downey Jr.) and Cliver, a couple of nobodies trying to get ahead in the world, scam Palance's organization out of 10 million Lira. Getting the money was easy - getting away with it is the hard part.
All four films are highly entertaining, though time and distance mutes some of the social commentary that di Leo peppered his films with. All but 'The Italian Connection' include a soundtrack by Luis Bacalov, which reminds me (especially in 'Caliber 9') of the outstandingly funky pinball theme from Sesame Street. I watched all the films in Italian, but they all come with both English and Italian options. From my understanding, all Italian films from this time were re-dubbed after filming, even for Italian audiences, and 'Caliber 9' has probably the worst dubbing of the four films, though I consider this somewhat to be expected with these films and don't subtract much because of it. The 'Milieu Trilogy' films are all in 16x9 anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1; 'Rulers of the City' is non-anamorphic wide-screen (black bars on top, bottom and sides). Above all, these films look terrific. Restored and remastered, they pop off the screen. Extras include five documentaries spread out over the four discs, consisting of interviews with Di Leo, his actors and crew, and historians to address different subjects relating to each film. Also included in the box set is a small booklet containing excerpts of the Di Leo interview.
While its understandable that anyone can get a lemon, I thought the packaging in this collection was fine - each film comes in its own case, and which are exactly the same as regular DVD packaging except that they are half as thick. The DVD itself is affixed to a spindle to keep it in place (as it is in traditional cases), and unlike some cheap sets, the tension on the spindle is sufficient to keep the DVD from slipping off and banging around loose inside the case. All my DVD's arrived in good shape and played well, and I highly recommend the entire set.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Barclay G. Virden
- Published on Amazon.com
Nothing to add in the way of another film review.
The treatment of these movies is good, they look and sound very nice.
Yes, the cases are a bit flimsy but they're acceptable.
I, too, had an issue with the Il Boss disc. The feature doesn't freeze up but the Storie di Mafia documentary does have the 30 second audio delay. It's pretty f'n annoying and might render it unwatchable for many. I'm pretty patient with such things and still had a difficult time.
The "anyone can get a lemon" assessment by an earlier reviewer doesn't apply here.
The now-majority of Amazon buyers are having these same problems.
What seems odd to me is that the quality warnings on here are getting "1 out of 5 found this helpful" responses.
Seems to me that it might be kind of important to a potential buyer.
For whatever it's worth I'll contact RaroVideo.
Still, I won't be returning the set.
The films are great and I'm happy to have spent $20 to have them collected.
UPDATE: The good people at RaroVideo are aware of the issue, have fixed it and have offered to send me a replacement.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
When I first heard these films would hit Blu-Ray, I was pretty excited since these Di Leo films are among his best and are some of my all time favorites. It was going to be great to see these films in definitive home video editions! Sadly, these new transfers don't look very good at all. They are swimming with digital noise and artifacts that may have been film grain at one point but is now a mass of swirling fuzz. The further away from the TV you get, the better the image appears to look.
The major letdown of the set, however, are the weird, split-second video glitches on the Blu-Ray disc of The Italian Connection (that can be seen in this photo I took here [...] ). Another similar glitch can be seen during the lumberyard fight, and then at least 5 more instances are seen during the final junkyard scene. I'm pretty sure this isn't an isolated incident, so if you've encountered these video glitches throughout the disc, please let Raro know that they need to correct this. They seem to not be willing to fix this problem at the moment and replied with this message to me:
"Thanks for pointing out the problem with the Italian Connection blu-ray. Unfortunately, at this point there's not much we can do to correct the disc. If you're dissatisfied with the collection you can return it and we'll issue you a refund. Alternatively we can send you the single DVD of the Italian Connection, so that you have a clean copy. Again, thank you for your feedback and ongoing interest in RaroVideo."
I'll most likely be returning my Blu-Ray set for a refund and sticking with the original Italian Raro DVDs that still look surprisingly great upconverted on my HDTV. It's a bummer. I want to support Raro because they are consistently releasing interesting and desirable Italian films that are English friendly. But, with their track record of quality already down the tubes, it's hard to recommend blind buying anything they release (Before this, they had issues with their DVD versions of The Boss and Dorian Grey). My fingers are crossed that they can overcome this and drastically improve their quality control.
Originally posted on [...]
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
In the past year or so I've really gotten into Italian cult cinema, mainly Giallo, but I've also become a growing fan of actresses such as Barbara Bouchet and Marisa Mell. When I learned a Bouchet film was going to be released on Blu-ray in this four film series I jumped on it, especially at the price point of $23.99 (what I pre-ordered it at). Having seen none of these films before and still being rather new to the Euro-Crime genre I didn't know what to expect. Having watched them all I'm glad I took the plunge.
Transfer wise there's no complaints from me, then again I'm not overly picky about picture and sound like some people are. I've watched and enjoyed enough bad VHS rips that for me it's more about the entertainment value than the quality, quality is just a bonus. But here the quality appears to be top notch to me, definitely better than I'm sure these films have ever looked before.
Film wise my personal favorite out of the four was The Italian Connection, for me it had the best combination of non stop action and story, Mario Adorf is simply awesome, never a dull moment. The other three films are also entertaining in their own rights, although I was a little disappointed in Caliber 9, Bouchet's role was pretty minimal and as one of the more hyped films in the collection I actually found it a little boring at times, Mario Adorf and the limited amount of Bouchet carried that one for me.
Anyone whose a fan of these films or this genre should be more than happy with this set. The current price of $24.99 is simply a steal for these four films on Blu-ray.
3.5 stars for average entertainment value of the films.
5 stars for the value of the set itself.
Average 4 stars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
These 4 Fernando Di leo movies are amont The best eurocrimes movies ever. My preference goes to Calibre 9, a nearby masterpiece.
The whole box is a treat: The hi-def transfers are perfect, great bonuses all over... Raro video made a good choice and a truly great work.