Friday, November 19, 2021

Gang War in Milan - Raro Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1973
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Franco Enna
Cast: Antonio Sabato, Philippe Leroy, Carla Romanellii, Marissa Mell

Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Approximate running time: 100 minutes 16 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / VC-1 Video
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Salvator Cangemi is a produce purveyor in Milan, Italy whom moonlights as a pimp and runs a profitable twin businesses. But the appearance of a ruthless and greedy French gangster called Le Capitaine threatens Toto s livelihood when Le Capitaine wants to unite the organized crime in Milian for him getting a large share of the profits. But Toto wants no part of Le Capitaine s organization and wants to continue running his own ring in a low-key quiet way. But no one says no to Le Capitaine and he threatens an all-out war to keep his organized crime ring, and reputation, intact." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "New HD transfer from original 35mm negative."

Gang War in Milan comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.5 GB

Feature: 20.9 GB

When it comes to Italian films and their transfers to Blu-Ray, there have been a few issues in regards to the use of DNR and grain structure. For this transfer, Raro Video delivers one of their better transfers, as colors look vibrant, details generally look crisp and black levels fare well throughout. That said, this transfer still has a few minor issues, like some very mild use of DNR in a few scenes. In regards to how Raro Video’s transfer compares to previous home video releases, it is a marked improvement, especially when it comes to color saturation.

Audio: 3.5/5

This release comes with two audio options: a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. The differences between the two audio mixes are minimal in terms of quality and range. Though both are limited in range, they are both more than satisfactory mixes that always present dialog clearly, everything sounds balanced, and the score sounds appropriately robust. Also, there are some mild instances of background noise which never become too intrusive. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.


Extras for this release include a introduction to the film with Italian crime cinema expert Mike Malloy (5 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a slipcover and a twelve-page booklet with a essay about the film written by Mike Malloy and a text bio and filmography for director Umberto Lenzi.


Where Lucio Fucli is often remembered as' The Italian Godfather of Gore ’, one could easily argue that Umberto Lenzi is' The Italian Godfather of Sadism’. And though many of his contemporaries were known to push the boundaries when it came to sexually explicit and violent content, very few of his contemporaries approached violence with the sadistic enthusiasm that ran deep throughout Lenzi’s 1970’s and early 1980’s output. With this cycle of films reaching its apex with what is arguably his most violent film, Cannibal Ferox,

Also during this era, Umberto Lenzi primarily worked on two Giallo (Italian thrillers) and Poliziotteschi (Italian police procedurals). And though he has since become more recognized for his work in the latter, his output in the Poliziotteschi genre features some of this genre's best films, most notably films like Almost Human, Rome Armed to the Teeth, Violent Naples, From Corleone to Brooklyn, and Gang War in Milan.

Content-wise, where the majority of Italian crime films focus on the struggle between law enforcement and criminals, this is not the case with Gang War in Milan, which shifts the focus towards two rival criminal organizations and their impending power struggle. And the police serve as not much more than background fodder. Fortunately, for a film filled with unlikable characters, the result is a lot of fun to watch as they try to one-up each other.

From a visual standpoint, Umberto Lenzi’s direction is rock solid as he really finds his groove during the more brutal moments. And for a film that is filled with many moments of brutality, Gang War in Milan’s most shining moment in this regard is a torture scene that involves electrocution and genitals. Pacing is never an issue as everything moves along at a breakneck pace. Though Gang War in Milan is not as action-heavy as most Poliziotteschi films, when action does erupt, it is done with great precision. Also, the plot has a few weird twists that further spice up this well-made dish of exploitative cinema.

From a performance standpoint, the film focuses most of its attention on its two leading men, Antonio Sabato (Spasmo), the Milan crime boss, and Philippe Leroy (The Frightened Woman), in the role of a French gangster at odds with Sabato’s character. And though both of these actors more than fill the role of being a leading man, it is two lesser characters that ultimately leave the strongest impression. And these two performances are by Marissa Mell (Danger: Diabolik) in the role of this film’s femme fatale and Antonio Casagrande (Beatrice Cenci) in the role of Sabato’s right-hand man. His character also happens to be the one whose genitals get electrocuted. Ultimately, Umberto Lenzi's Gang War in Milan marks his first foray into the Poliziotteschi genre with an explosive film that is both entertaining and rife with exploitative elements.

Gang War in Milan gets a serviceable audio/presentation from Raro Video.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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