• Last Round, The

    Released by: No Shame Films
    Released on: 11/15/2005
    Director: Stelvio Massi
    Cast: Carlos Monzon, Luc Merenda, Gianni Dei, Giampiero Albertini, Mario Brega
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    An Argentinean boxer named Carlos Monzon stars as Marco, a man who has just arrived in a small Italian town whose entire economy is based around the factory work that is available there. Like a lot of the other men in town, Marco is out of a job and hoping to find employment when he shows up at the gates of the family that runs the factory, but instead of finding work he finds trouble when he witnesses some employees being roughed up.

    After befriending a blind girl and her adopted father, Maroc learns that the city is the base of operations for two warring crime families, the Manzetti’s, lead by the vicious and gun obsessed Rico (Luc Merenda of Gambling City) and the Belmondo’s. Marco, who has nothing to his name but his fists and a music box, still suffers over the murder of his mother and sister and soon finds out that the man responsible for their death lives in the small town he’s found himself in.

    From here on out, Marco craftily turns the two factions against one another by working one side, then the other, and carefully steering them into a vicious rivalry that will leave no one in town untouched in one way or another.

    Plot sound familiar? Maybe a bit like A Fistful Of Dollars or Yojimbo? Well, it’s basically the same story, interestingly enough, and shot by the very same man who worked on Leone’s classic film years before. There are a few twists thrown in that keep this from falling into the remake category but there are certainly enough influences in the film to make it obvious where the ideas came from.

    While the first half hour of the film is pretty slow, once the initial mob war gets underway via a brutal hit that takes out a man in charge and a few of his thugs, the movie kicks into high gear, the pacing picks up, and The Last Round turns out to be a pretty enjoyable little thriller. Massi’s direction isn’t flashy but it is quite effective and the camera does a good job of capturing some of the subtleties of the characters, from Rico’s obsession with firearms and young girls to Marco’s penchant for knife throwing and solving his problems with his fists rather than a gun.

    Merenda does a fine job as the sleazy crime lord, having his way with whoever he pleases whenever he pleases in a role pretty far removed from the more noble characters we usually see him delve into. Monzon lacks the enthusiasm of other lead men of the genre like Franco Nero or Tomas Milian but certainly looks the part of a pissed of revenge seeking tough guy.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The movie starts with a disclaimer stating that although the film was restored, some irreparable print damage was found and as such, the movie is only going to look so good. With that out of the way with, The Last Round does look pretty decent on DVD. The 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer lacks a bit of color and as such looks a bit washed out but not so much that it’s irritating. Some print damage does exist here, mostly in the form of specks and the odd small scratch or two, but again, it’s not so harsh that it really takes us out of the movie at all. This isn’t a perfect transfer but even with the inherent faults in the source material it’s above average.

    You’ve got the option of watching the film in either an Italian language track or an English language track, with optional subtitles available in English only. There’s some mild hiss present on either mix, mostly during the first ten minutes or so of the movie, but it’s never too difficult to follow the movie and the score and sound effects not only sound nice and clear but are also well balanced.

    On the disc, you’ll find the film’s original theatrical trailer and a modest still gallery of promotional artwork and production stills. In addition to the extras on the DVD, No Shame has also included another one of their fine liner note inserts. This time out we’re treated to an essay on the film from Jeff Stafford and biographies for Carlos Monzon, Luc Merenda, and director Stelvio Massi. There’s also a length video interview with Merenda shot in and around his antique shop in Paris entitled Enter The Merenda, in which he talks about his work on the film and in cinema in general. This talk runs for over half an hour in length and is a pretty interesting look at the man and his career.

    But wait, that’s not all!

    There’s also a bonus CD entitled The Eclectic Ultimate Cinedelic Experience included in the packaging that contains cover versions of eight different scores from various Eurocult releases. While it would have been preferable to have the originals included here instead, these modernized (read: dancier) cover versions from Entropia are a fun diversion and give the package some definite added value.

    The Final Word:

    While the audio and video for The Last Round aren’t quite as top notch as we’ve come to expect from No Shame’s last few batches of titles, the film still looks and sounds quite good and the extras are a nice touch as well, especially that bonus CD. The movie itself is pretty decent, even if it takes a while to get moving, and Eurocult fans should dig this set.
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