27 January 2010 | Witchfinder-General-666
Gritty, Action-Packed, Violent and Downright Nasty Excitement - Pure Italo-Crime Greatness!
Enzo G. Castellari has enriched Italian cult-cinema in various genres, and "Il Grande Racket" of 1976 is arguably the coolest of them all. At least this breathtaking, ultraviolent and supremely nasty Poliziottesco has surpassed "Keoma" and the original "Inglorious Bastards" of 1978 on my list of favorite Castellari flicks. "Racket" delivers gritty, rough and brutal Italo-Crime excitement in its purest form and proudly stands up there with the works of Fernando Di Leo and Umberto Lenzi among the true highlights of 70s Italian Crime Cinema.
The vast majority of Italian crime flicks from the time are about unorthodox cops hunting sadistic criminals (inspired by "Dirty Harry"); some, such as Castellari's own "Il Cittadino Si Ribbela" ("The Citizen Rebels",1974, which I regretfully haven't yet seen) are about enraged citizens, who, after being tormented by thugs for too long, take the law in their own hands. This wonderfully gritty gem actually serves both premises! Cult-star Fabio Testi plays Rome police Inspector Nico Palmieri, who leads a hopeless battle against a protection racket of hoodlums who terrorize and torment a whole neighborhood of innocent people. Palmitieri's rough but legal methods always seem to fail, as the gangsters' surviving victims are too intimidated to talk, which is why a sleazy lawyer always gets his scumbag clients out. When all legal methods fail, the rough-and-ready copper is not afraid to bend the law in order to provide justice...
Fabio Testi, a regular leading man in Italian genre-cinema, delivers another great performance in his role here. Of all the films I've seen him in, I would say that this is Testi's second-best (the unmatched No 1. being Massimo Dallamano's 1972 Giallo-masterpiece "Cosa Avete Fatto A Solange"). The rest of the cast includes several familiar faces for fans of Italian cinema, such as Castellari-regulars Joshua Sinclair and Orso Maria Guerrini (who played Franco Nero's malicious brothers in "Keoma"), Salvatore Borghese (who was in many Bud Spencer & Terence Hill Comedies, as well as many Spaghetti Westerns) and others. It is notable that the gang of sadistic thugs in this film includes a particularly sadistic female (played by Marcella Michelangeli).
"Racket" brings the whole spectrum of genre-typical nastiness: Loads of bloody violence, rape, sadistic murders, brutal torture - there's plenty of it all here. The film is action packed, and, the action sequences are very well-done. The film si full of violent shootouts, car chases, fistfights etc., and, as usual Castellari provides some spectacular effects (such as a car rolling spinning over down a hill from the inside). The cinematography is very well-done, and the score is genre-typically great and underlines the adrenaline-driven atmosphere. All things considered, "Racket" is a spectacular example for Italian Crime Cinema, which ranges among the highlights of both director Castellari's and leading-man Testi's careers. A fan of Poliziotteschi in particular and Italian Cult Cineama in general should make sure not to miss this brutal, action-packed and remarkably gritty gem. Highly recommended!