Saturday, October 2, 2021

The .44 Specialist – Cineploit (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Stelvio Massi
Writers: Lucio De Caro, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Franco Gasparri, John Saxon, John Steiner, Marcella Michelangeli, Giampiero Albertini, Andrea Aureli, Pasquale Basile, Malisa Longo, Paul Muller, Claudio Zucchet

Release Date: February 10th, 2020
Approximate Running Time: 94 Minutes 15 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono German
Subtitles: English, German
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: 25,00 EUR

"Inspector Mark Terzi, who is acting incognito under Mark Patti, gets hired in Rome by terrorists Paul Henkel (John Steiner) and Olga Kube (Marcella Michelangeli). His mission leads him to Vienna without knowing what it will be. With his austrian colleagues and the shady US Agent Altman (John Steiner) Terzi tries to discover the planned attack. After a murder attack were he should have been and isn’t by accident he realizes somebody plays wrong. Shortly after the terror attack with Terzi ´s participation is taking shape....." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “This presentation of Mark Colpisce Ancora is based on the original camera negative and has been scanned and restored in 2K. Several shots in the material show severe chemical damage which could only be partially fixed despite using the most advanced restoration technology. Please enjoy the following feature despite these short comings."

The .44 Specialist comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 36.8 GB

Feature: 27.2 GB

All things considered, this transfer actually looks very good, colors are nicely saturated, image clarity, contrast and black levels look strong throughout and grain remains intact.

Audio: 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono Italian), 3.75/5 (DTS-HD Mono English)

This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono mix in German. The English and Italian audio mixes are in great shape, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and ambient sounds are well-represented. Range wise the Italian language track sounds more robust than the English language track. This release comes with two subtitle options, English and German and the English subtitles are for the Italian language track. Also, the English language track features one scene in Italian. It should-be noted that I was unable to disable subtitles (I tried this release on two different players) when watching the English language track. And if you want English subtitles playing instead of German subtitles, you have to select Italian language track first, then go back to audio menu and select the English language. Also, for some reason the English subtitles, have question mark’s placed at the beginning of a sentence.

Extras:

Extras for this release include, an extensive image gallery (posters/lobby cards/hoe video art/stills), Restoration Samples (4 minutes 8 seconds), a featurette titled Il Comissario Di Ferro (16 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English and German subtitles), a featurette titled Marc Colpisce Ancora (20 minutes 10 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English and German subtitles), a featurette titled Stelvio Cipriani Part 2 (41 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English and German subtitles), a double-sided Poster with the Italian Locandia and Manifesto and a media book packaging that contains a twenty-six-page booklet with a bio for composer Stelvio Cipriani, an essay about the film written by Michael Cholewa, bio’s for actors Franco Gasparri, John Steiner, Giampiero Albertini, actress Marcella Michelangeli, director Stelvio Massi, cinematographer Mario Vulpiani, onset photos and an interview with Danilo Massi conducted by Eugenio Ercolani. All the text is in German except, Stelvio Cipriani’s bio is in German and English and the interview with Danilo Massi is in English.

Also, this release also comes with multilingual menus, English and German.

Summary:

The .44 Specialist is third film in a trilogy of films, that all starred Franco Gasparri. The only two film in this trilogy are Blood, Sweat and Fear and Mark Shoots First. Stelvio Massi directed all three films. Having not seen Blood, Sweat and Fear and Mark Shoots First, I cannot comment on how if The .44 Specialist has a similar vibe or how it’s plot connects with it’s predecessors.

The .44 Specialist’s plot revolves around undercover cop named Mark, who’s a reluctant hero, who at times seems more interested in relaxing. When this character is first introduced, he’s hanging out in a café trying to enjoy life. And not wanting to go back to his daily grind as an undercover cop, he then assaults a few police officers in hope of being arrested. Shortly thereafter he’s released and a chance-encounter with a beautiful woman leads to his involvement with terrorists. From there the plot puts Mark in a series of precarious situations as he tries to free himself from his current assignment.

The .44 Specialist is a text-book example of film that’s built up around its leading man. Anchoring The .44 Specialist is Franco Gasparri portrayal of an undercover cop named Mark Patti. He delivers a strong performance where his charisma more than makes up for any of The .44 Specialist’s shortcomings.

Other performances of note include, John Steiner (Salon Kitty, Tenebrae) and Marcella Michelangeli (Arizona Colt Returns, The Big Racket) in the role of the terrorists who recruit Mark and John Saxon (The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Black Christmas) in the role of Altman, a man who works for a secret organization that battles crime.

Not too be overlooked, when discussing is Stelvio Massi’s direction. Though, he’s not as well-known as Enzo G. Castellari and Fernando Di Leo. His ability to create tense action set pieces makes his one of best director’s who worked in Poliziotteschi (Italian crime films). Ultimately, The .44 Specialist is a tense crime film that fans of Poliziotteschi cinema should thoroughly enjoy.

The .44 Specialist makes its way to Blu-ray via a strong audio/video presentation from Cineploit that comes with a trio of insightful extras, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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