Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Contraband: Limited Edition – Cauldron Films (Blu-ray/CD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1980
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Ettore Sanzò, Gianni De Chiara, Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo
Cast: Fabio Testi, Ivana Monti, Marcel Bozzuffi, Saverio Marconi, Enrico Maisto, Ferdinando Murolo, Venantino Venantini, Ajita Wilson, Luciano Rossi, Salvatore Billa, Romano Puppo

Release Date: May 15th, 2022
Approximate running time: 96 Minutes 39 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.95

"Naples, Italy: An idealistic cigarette smuggler, Luca, runs into problems when a sadistic drug dealing gangster from France decides to muscle his way into operations. As he tries to wipe out the competition, all hell breaks loose and the bodies start piling up! Luca joins forces with rival smugglers and the local mafia to counteract the power play, which only increases the body count until the explosive gun powder and gut bursting conclusion!" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “While we believe this transfer is overall very pleasing for nearly the entirety of the film, there are a few brief moments where the original negative damage is apparent. We hope this doesn’t distract from your experience. Please enjoy this restoration from the original negative that was once thought unsalvageable."

Contraband comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 37.7 GB

Feature: 29.1 GB

Though the information makes mention of this source's shortcomings, the result is a solid restoration and easily the best Contraband has looked on home video. Colors are nicely saturated, image clarity and black levels are solid, and grain is nicely resolved. 

Audio: 4/5 (LPCM Mono English), 4.25/5 (LPCM Mono Italian)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound great; the dialog always comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. Range-wise, the differences between these two audio mixes are minimal. Included with this release are two subtitle options: English subtitles for the Italian language track and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include an image gallery (posters/lobby cards/soundtrack artwork/home video art), a Italian language trailer (4 minutes 17 seconds, LPCM mono Italian, no subtitles), a English language trailer (4 minutes 17 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor Fabrizio Jovine (5 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor Venantino Venantini (5 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with cinematographer Sergio Salvati (5 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with composer Fabio Frizzi (2 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Giorgio Mariuzzo titled The Real Lucio (13 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Ivana Monti titled Woman Under Fire (21 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actor Saverio Marconi titled From Stage to Slaughter (19 minutes 58 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with cinematographer Sergio Salvati titled Lucio and I (17 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with film historians Troy Howarth, Nathaniel Thompson and Bruce Holecheck, reversible cover art, a side loaded slipcase (limited edition only), five mini lobby card reproduction postcard inserts (limited edition only), a CD with composer Fabio Frizzi’s sixteen song score (limited edition only), and an insert with a track listing for the CD, and information about the transfer (limited edition only).

Summary:

Lucio Fulci is best known for his work in the horror and giallo genres. He was actually a versatile filmmaker who worked and often excelled in every genre he worked in. That said, by the mid-1980's, there’s no denying that he was a shell of his former self as a filmmaker.

This brings us to Contraband, Lucio Fulci’s only foray into the Poliziotteschi genre. Contraband was made in 1980, when Lucio Fulci was hitting his stride as a filmmaker. Notable films he directed during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s include Zombie, The Beyond, and The New York Ripper.

Though the Poliziotteschi genre was already in decline by 1980, The result is a film that stands firmly with the best examples of Poliziotteschi cinema. With Lucio Fulci, he takes elements that are synonymous with Poliziotteschi cinema and takes them to their extremes.

Fabio Testi (The Big Racket) is cast in the role of Contraband’s protagonist, Luca Di Angelo, a smuggler whose brother is murdered by a crime boss looking to use Luca’s assets and distribution system to sell drugs. He is an actor who became one of the faces of Poliziotteschi cinema. He delivers a strong performance that shines brightest during his more heartfelt moments.

The rest of the cast are very good in their respective roles, especially Marcel Bozzuffi’s (The French Connection) sadistic portrayal of a drug kingpin named The Marsigliese. Other notable cast members include Luciano Rossi (Death Walks at Midnight) in the role of a chemist; Romano Puppo (Street Law) in the role of a hitman; and Ajita Wilson (Sadomania) in the role of a crime boss's girlfriend.

From its opening moments, Contraband is a thrilling ride that features brutal acts of violence that rival his most celebrated violent set pieces from his horror films. Standout moments include a montage where a hitman knocks off all the crime bosses standing in the way of The Marsigliese; a scene where Luca’s kidnapped wife is raped while he’s forced to hear her screams while he’s talking to her captors on the phone; and a spectacular ambush shootout finale. Ultimately, Contraband is a grueling tale of revenge that fans of Poliziotteschi cinema are sure to enjoy.

Contraband gets a phenomenal release from Cauldron Films that comes with a solid audio/video presentation, a CD with the score, and an abundance of extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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