The opening sequence already demonstrates that director Umberto Lenzi disposes of a playful and curious sense of humor. When the film starts, you're most likely to grab the DVD-box again to reassure you're watching the right movie, as it opens with a typical Spaghetti Western scene showing a gang of Cowboys riding on their horses and invading a little village. Is this a Western? The pictures and the synopsis displayed on the DVD-box surely don't look or sound like this would be a Western, but you never know with director Umberto Lenzi and lead star Tomas Milian, right? The doubtfulness vanishes right away after the credits, and "Free Hand for the Tough Cop" naturally is a crime-thriller (or "Poliziotteschi", if you wish), but the misleading intro nevertheless proves that Lenzi is an extremely gifted filmmaker who immediately captures your full attention and interest. "Free Hand for the Tough Cop" is another wildly exiting, gritty and remarkably plotted 70's Euro-Cult cinema highlight, with a structure that is delightfully convoluted, wicked dialogs & action situations that rank amongst Italy's finest! Personally, I would even state this film is as good as on par with the quality levels of Lenzi's most famous crime-thrillers, like "Almost Human" and "Violent Naples", but it's not as easily available as those two and therefore still a little under-appreciated. With the revival of European cult cinema lately, this film is destined to be released in a fancy DVD-edition any time soon, and I'm sure it'll get many new fans from that moment on. For those who can't wait for an English and/or internationally released version; the film is already available on a French label called Neo Publishing. The picture quality and sound are awesome, and the disc contains some fascinating extras, but you have to able to understand either the French or the Italian language.
The indescribably charismatic and talented Tomas Milian stars as a witty criminal Sergio Marazzi, but he's widely known by his friends and enemies under the nickname "Garbage Can". He's knocked unconscious and taken OUT of prison by the unorthodox detective Sarti, who requires Marazzi's criminal skills and experience to help his police investigation. The odd couple has to rescue a kidnapped young girl from the claws of Italy's most feared crime boss Brescianelli, and urgently, because the girl suffers from severe kidney problems and risks to die without regular medicine injections. Garbage Can manages to recruit three more wanted thugs and they begin their search for Brescianelli. Slight problem though, the crime lord recently underwent plastic surgery and nobody knows what his new face looks like. "Free Hand For the Tough Cop" actually contains LESS virulent shoot-outs and wild car chases than you'd expect, but their lack is widely compensated by wickedly intelligent dialogs and a continuously anarchistic atmosphere. Every single character that walks through the screen is genuinely fascinating and provided with a compelling background. Unlike Lenzi's other Poliziotteschi flicks, this movie isn't really set in the busy and crowded center of one of Italy's most prominent cities, but most of the action takes place in rural villages and deserted industrial factory buildings. Tomas Milian and Henry Silva are both brilliant in roles that are the opposite of their previous collaboration with Umberto Lenzi, namely "Almost Human". And if you're slightly familiar with Italian cult cinema, you'll definitely also recognize many other actors and actresses that (briefly) appear in this production, like Luciano Rossi, Claudio Cassinelli and Biagio Pelligra. The climax is excellent and very violent, the music is catchy and both the camera-work & editing are handled with a great deal of professionalism. This certainly isn't just another smutty and repulsive Lenzi quickie, but a solid and unforgettable Lenzi highlight!
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