• Poliziotto Sprint (Camera Obscura) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Camera Obscura
    Released on: March 24th, 2020.
    Director: Stelvio Massi
    Cast: Maurizio Merli, Giancarlo Sbragia, Angelo Infanti, Lilli Carati
    Year: 1977
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    Poliziotto Sprint – Movie Review:

    Also known as Highway Racer, Stelvio Massi’s 1977 film Poliziotto Sprint revolves around a cop named Marco Palma (Maurizio Merli, minus his trademark moustache!). He and, to a much lesser extent, his sandwich loving partner love nothing more than chasing down bad guys in high speed pursuit chases. We see one such chase go wrong when the bad guys outwit him and he wrecks his car. Nevertheless, after an ass-chewing from his boss, Maresciallo Tagliaferri (Giancarlo Sbragia), they’re back on the streets and up their old tricks again. This time, Palma’s pursuit of some bank robbers gets his partner killed.

    Just as he’s about to hand in his badge and call it quits, Tagliaferri realizes that the man behind a spate of recent robberies just might be his old nemesis, ‘il Nizzardo,’ a French criminal named Jean-Paul Dossena (Angelo Infanti) who he personally helped to stop years ago. Tagliaferri knows that Palma has what it takes, he just needs more training – and so he dusts off the old Ferrari sitting in the garage and gives him just that. Soon enough, Palma says goodbye to his girlfriend, Francesca (Lilli Carati), for a while because it’s time for him to go undercover and infiltrate Dossena’s gang and inform Tagliaferri as to the plans of their next heist.

    If you’re into car chases, then this is the movie for you, because man oh man are there ever a lot of car chases here. Most of them are pretty fun to watch, frequently taking place on the narrow streets of Rome, with cops and robbers weaving and bobbing their way through traffic in some scenes that definitely do look legitimately dangerous. While you might need to suspend your disbelief a little bit when a bulky Citroen goes head to head with Merli’s Ferrari, that doesn’t take away from how well choreographed the stunt driving is in this picture, and that’s where the bulk of its action and suspense comes from. Production values, overall, are quite good. The cinematography is top-notch and the score works well (and at one point sounds like it’s borrowing from Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida!).

    As to the Merli-factor itself, he’s solid here. He doesn’t go around bitch-slapping everyone like he does in a quite a few of his other cop roles, but he brings that searing intensity that you want from him to the part. When he’s chasing down bad guys behind the wheel of his car, he’s very much got ‘the look’ that you expect and that counts for a lot. Giancarlo Sbragia makes for a pretty decent boss, getting appropriately pissy with him when he breaks protocol, as cop-bosses are wont to do in cop movies, but of course, having enough faith in him to help him see all of this through. Angelo Infanti is more than good as the main villain in the film, playing the part with a surprising amount of style and class and doing a very fine job of it at that. Lilli Carati isn’t given all that much to do in the picture but she looks great doing it.

    Though the story might be a little on the predictable side and the first half of the movie might meander a bit, Massi and company do a really solid job of ramping things up in the second portion of the film, delivering a tense and tightly wound thriller well worth seeing.

    Poliziotto Sprint – Blu-ray Review:

    Camera Obscura brings Poliziotto Sprint to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s proper aspect ratio of 2.35.1 widescreen with the feature taking up just over 32GBs of space. Picture quality on this release is excellent. Detail is very strong throughout the presentation and there’s great texture and depth here too. Color reproduction is spot on and we get nice, inky, deep black levels. Skin tones look great and the image, while pretty much pristine, retains the expected amount of natural looking film grain. There are no problems with any noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement issues and the picture is free of any compression issues. All in all, an outstanding effort in terms of the visual presentation.

    German and Italian language 24-bit LPCM Mono Master audio tracks are provided with subtitles available in both German and English. The audio is clear and nicely balanced. The score sounds pretty solid and the sound of screeching tires in the chase scenes is appropriately piercing. No problems with any hiss or distortion to note and the levels are properly balanced.

    Aside from a still gallery, the disc also includes a twenty-minute featurette entitled Faster Than A Bullet wherein film historian Robert Curti speaks about Stelvio Massi’s work on the film, how the political situation in Italy around the time that the film was made creeps into the picture, Maurizio Merli’s career and passing, Lilli Carati’s work as a Miss Italy contestant and then as an actress in respectable films and then later adult pictures and quite a bit more.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included and the packaging includes an insert booklet containing an essay on the film written by Christian Keßler in both English and German language versions.

    Poliziotto Sprint – The Final Word:

    Poliziotto Sprint is heavy on car chases but it’s still a pretty solid Eurocrime picture with a strong lead performance from the mighty Maurizio Merli. The stunts are impressive and the last half of the film quite tense. Camera Obscura has done a beautiful job bringing this one to Blu-ray with a pristine transfer, fine audio and a nice featurette documenting the film’s history. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Poliziotto Sprint Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      Even if it's pretty jarring to see Merli sans 'stache, I still dig this film. Need to pick up this disc soon.