• Emergency Squad (No Shame Films) DVD Review

    Released by: No Shame Films
    Released on: November 15th, 2005.
    Director: Stelvio Massi
    Cast: Tomas Milian, Gastone Moschin, Ray Lovelock, Mario Carotenuto, Stefania Casini
    Year: 1974
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    Emergency Squad – Movie Review:

    Eurocult stalwart Tomas Milian (of Almost Human) plays Ravelli, an Interpol agent whose wife is murdered in cold blood by a group of gangsters. With her gone, he falls into a state of depression and despite the fact that others around him like his sister in law are reaching out to him, he's cold, pulling inside himself, and falling completely into his work. While working to track down a gang of bank robbers, he discovers that the leader of this gang, Marseilles, may in fact be connected to his wife's death as the bullet that recently killed someone during the robbery matches the bullet that killed his wife. When Marseilles latest robbery attempt doesn't work out as planned, the cops begin closing in on him and Ravelli plans his revenge.

    OK, so the plot isn't going to win any points for originality but what it lacks there it more than makes up for in gritty action. Plenty of shoot-outs are the order of the day and it's served up in spades as Milian and company blast their way through some nice Italian scenery and some not so nice Italian scenery. Stand outs include a great sequence in a swanky brothel featuring a bevy of scantily clad Eurobabes, some solid car chases, and plenty of great tough talking dialogue from our down and out cigarillo chomping cop hero, Ravelli. The opening scene in which the thugs pull off the robbery by emulating a film shoot so that the people watching won't suspect anything is a neat twist and this scene does a good job of kicking the movie off on a high note.

    Stelvio Cipriani contributes a rousing score that highlights the blood soaked gunplay quite nicely. Recently deceased Stelvio (Case of the Bloody Iris, A Fistful Of Lead) Massi's direction is competent and slick and the camera work lends a classy look to the film, even when the subject matter is dirty and base. In short, the movie looks and sounds really slick – like a good Italian cop film should.

    Aside from the action set pieces, which are fantastic, the main reason to watch the film is Milian. Though he's starred in many Polizia and Spaghetti Western films, he gives a better than average performance here and while it's maybe not Oscar caliber, he's sufficiently believable in his depression which lends an uncharacteristic air of sympathy to the character of Ravelli. By the end of the film, we really do want him to get his revenge and we want him to bring the bad guys to justice for what happened to his wife, but for what they've done to the city's populace as well.

    While a lot of Italian cop films of the time tend to be formulaic in their execution, Emergency Squad at least stands out a little bit from the heard thanks to its rather grim plot and Milian's stand out lead performance. Watch for Ray Lovelock of Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man in a supporting role.

    Emergency Squad – DVD Review:

    Emergency Squad comes to Region 1 in a pretty nice, by the standards of the year it was released, progressive scan 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The colors look nice and bold throughout, the black levels stay strong and deep from start to finish, and the flesh tones look lifelike and natural. There is some mild edge enhancement present in a few scenes and some line shimmering in the usual places like on the front of a car grill or along the sides of a building but there aren't any mpeg compression artifacts worth noting nor is there much in the way of print damage aside from the odd speck or two. Some mild grain is present, but that's to be expected. Overall, the film looks great on this DVD.

    You've got your choice of watching the film in either a Dolby Digital Italian language mono mix or a Dolby Digital English language mix, with optional subtitles provided in English. If you opt for the English language track, the scenes that were cut for North American release play in Italian with English subs automatically popping onto the screen so that you're still able to follow the film. Quality of either mix should please most fans. Anyone familiar with Eurocult films of this era knows that sometimes the dubs are a little wonky and that the lips don't always match the performers but that's sometimes half the fun of these films. Dialogue is clean and clear, there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion and the levels are balanced properly. While the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track that was on the Italian PAL release from AYP has not been carried over for this release, what is here should be perfectly sufficient.

    Stelvio Massi provides a brief introduction to the film as well as a longer interview that runs just under ten minutes that was recorded shortly before he passed away in 2004. He covers not only making Emergency Squad but gives a brief overview of his career in the Italian film industry in general. Though he was not in the best of health and suffering from a terminal illness while the interview was taking place, he seems in good spirits and genuinely looks to be enjoying this little trip down memory lane.

    Tomas Milian is also interviewed on camera for about thirteen minutes in a second segment in which he covers some specifics relating to this film and how it was working with some of the people that he had to interact with on the set. Milian is always a bit of a character and as such he makes for an interesting interview subject.

    Rounding out the extra features are the original Italian theatrical trailer (in anamorphic widescreen with English subtitles), a gallery of promotional artwork for the film, a gallery of Stelvio Massi's photographs from various productions, and a liner note insert featuring biographies and filmographies for Tomas Milian, Stelvio Massie, and Ray Lovelock as well as an essay on the film itself.

    Emergency Squad – The Final Word:

    No Shame gives another reasonably obscure Euro-crime action/thriller the deluxe treatment that fans want. Nice audio and video quality, some interesting extra features, and a main attraction that holds up well make Emergency Squad highly recommended.