• Convoy Busters (No Shame DVD) DVD Review

    Released by: No Shame DVD
    Released on: June 27th, 2006.
    Director: Stevlio Massi
    Cast: Maurizio Merli, Olga Karlatos, Massimo Serato, Mimmo Palmara, Attilio Duse
    Year: 1978
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    Convoy Busters – Movie Review:

    Convoy Busters is an odd retitling for a film that really has very little to do with convoys (it was known as Un poliziotto scomodo in Italy, which translates to An Uncomfortable Cop). Instead, this one plays out like a Dirty Harry style tale of a cop who pushes things too far. Don’t expect to hear from C. W. McCall (sadly) on the soundtrack or expect to see Kris Kirstofferson pop up – instead, look out for a powerhouse performance from the king of the Italian bitch-slap, Maurizio Merli (Mannaja, The Cynic The Rat And The Fist and of course Violent Naples).

    Merli plays inspector Olmi, a man who spends his days and nights upholding justice in the homicide department on the violent streets of Rome. When he pegs the son of a wealthy customs official in the murder of a teenage girl, he gets a confession out of him under duress (he slaps the crap out of the guy) and his superiors start to get a little irked.

    Soon enough, Olmi is flying around in a helicopter shooting down machine gun toting cop killers with his six-shooter (he’s a really good shot!) but the press doesn’t like his violent tactics and so his the brass decides to get rid of him by sending him to work on the emergency squad where his violent tactics might prove to be more useful. After all, the press is starting to notice Olmi and his tactics and the big wigs don’t want that now, do they? Finally, Olmi does what everyone was worried he would do all along – he shoots an innocent man in cold blood. It’s an accident, but one for which he cannot forgive himself and he decides to swear off shooting people for good.

    To help get away from it all, Olmi winds up taking a job at a precinct in a small town on the coast of Italy where everyone hopes that the relaxed pace will do the guy some good. While he’s there he hooks up with a pretty schoolteacher named Anna (Olga Karlatos who will always be remembered for Zombie!) after slapping the crap out of some punks who hit on her. They fall fast in love and things might be shaping up for our ill-tempered cop, and soon the lovebirds realize their two of a kindred spirit as they both tend to work outside of the system – Anna had previously allowed a mentally challenged child to sit in on a class with the regular students, so you can see the connection these two have.

    While he and Anna are out walking along the pier, one of the fisherman gives them some free fish and it’s then that Olmi realizes something is amiss. Not only is he a top notch cop but he’s also apparently pretty expert in the regional habits of fish as he notices that one of the fish that’s on display is not native to the Adriatic Sea. Never the less, he pays it no mind until he lays down to watch a porno with Anna and it hits him like a ton of bricks – the fisherman are running a gun smuggling ring! Olmi bursts into action and grabs his pistol proving that old habits die hard as he chases down the evil fisherman and makes them pay for breaking the law in his town.

    Convoy Busters is pretty goofy but it works thanks to Merli’s powerhouse performance which simply oozes over the top machismo from start to finish. His hair and moustache remain perfect throughout as he shoots his way through the underworld and saves the day, determined to stop crime at all costs regardless of who gets in his way. He’s as tough as they come and he’s afraid of no man. Director Stelvio Massi, best known for films like Mondo Cane Oggi and his excellent Emergency Squad, keeps the action moving at a brisk pace, throwing in a shootout or a bitch slapping scene ever five to ten minutes to keep us interested in what is essentially a pretty pedestrian cop story. It works well enough that Convoy Busters is always entertaining even if Merli is really the only remarkable quality of the film.

    Olga Karlatos is fun to look at in a pretty disposable role, her performance is adequate but she’s really not much more than eye candy in the film and doesn’t have a whole lot to do here save for stand beside Merli as he slaps the crap out of everyone and shots them in the chest. Thankfully, the Merli facto is enough to carry the movie. In lesser hands this would have been an uninteresting film but he walks through the movie with such style and with such a wonderfully pissed off demeanor that you can’t help but cheer him on, even if his character is at heart a raging psychopath. He’s not quite as impressive here as he is in Violent Naples but he comes damn close to matching the intensity of that performance in Convoy Busters, which is reason enough alone for fans of the genre to seek this one out.

    Convoy Busters – DVD Review:

    No Shame’s anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer looks pretty good on this release, even if it is soft. There is some heavy edge enhancement in some spots as well as a fair bit of grain present but for the most part the image is clean enough with nice color reproduction. Aliasing never gets out of hand and neither do compression artifacts. The image is pretty stable and while there is the odd instance of print damage here and there, overall it’s obvious that some care has been put into the presentation and Convoy Busters looks pretty nice on this DVD.

    Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks are provided in both English and Italian, with optional subtitles provided in English. The Italian track sounds noticeably better than the English track does, though both are serviceable. There is one spot about half way into the movie where the English track warbles for a minute or so but thankfully it corrects itself and this doesn’t plague the disc. The levels are also a little lower on the English track than on the Italian track and you’ll have to turn it up a bit to hear things. Overall, however, both tracks are almost devoid of hiss or distortion and aside from those few minor quibbles they get the job done well enough.

    You want extras? You’ve got extras! Things start off with an interview with Maurizio Matteo Merli, the son of the late Maurizio Merli who stars as the lead in Convoy Busters in an interview entitled appropriately enough, Merli On Merli. This is a touching look at the career of his father through someone who knew him well and it makes for an interesting watch. Merli Jr. interestingly enough, has gone on to follow in his father’s footsteps to an extent and it’s great to see him get the treatment that he does on this release. Furthering the remembrance of Merli is an interview with journalist Eolo Capacci who, in his segment A Star Is Born, discusses the rise of Merli in Italian cinema during the polizia explosion of the seventies. Actor Enio Girolami, who was friends with the late actor and who starred alongside him in Sexy Sinners. These three interviews give a nice, well rounded look back at the life and times of one of the polizia genres most recognizable faces.

    From there, No Shame digs out interviews with two other noted directors from the genre. First up is Enzo Castellari, responsible for helming such classics as Street Law and The Big Racket, who is interviewed in a segment entitled ER Prota. Ruggero Deodato, the man behind Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man and of course, Cannibal Holocaust, also shows up for a look back in a segment entitled Bullet In The Closet. Both men speak fondly of Merli, Castellari discussing how congenial he could be, Deodato covering his more athletic side.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc itself are a trailer for Convoy Busters, a trailer for Cop On Fire which is a new crime film starring Maurizio Matteo Merli, and a nice poster and still gallery. Animated menus and chapter stops are also included.

    In lieu of liner notes this time No Shame has provided an insert containing a full color sixteen page comic book entitled Crime Story: The De Falco Connection by Maurizio Rosensweig and Diego Cajelli which they’ve translated from Italian into English. Inspired by the Euro-crime films of the seventies it tells the tale of a pair of cops trying to bring down a mobster and it does a nice job of capturing the flair and the feel of the period films it’s borrowing from. It’s a fun read and a nice touch.

    Convoy Busters – The Final Word:

    Convoy Busters isn’t the ‘be all, end all’ of the poliziotteschi genre but it’s a fun and entertaining action film with a fine lead performance from Merli. No Shame’s disc looks and sounds good and the extras are both interesting and informative making this one for the fans.