Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Tough Ones: Deluxe Collectors Edition – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Arthur Kennedy, Giampiero Albertini, Ivan Rassimov, Biagio Pelligra, Aldo Barberito, Stefano Patrizi, Luciano Pigozzi, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Gabriella Lepori, Maria Rosaria Riuzzi, Corrado Solari

Release Date: August 30th, 2021
Approximate running time: 93 Minutes 53 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English (For Italian Language, Italian Text)
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: OOP

"Maurizio Meril stars as an Italian DIRTY HARRY, punching and shooting his way through the sleazy drug, sex and crime infested cesspool of mid-'70s Rome, on the trail of a sadistic, machine gun-toting hunchback, played by Tomas Milian (THE BIG GUNDOWN)." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (The Tough Ones), 3.5/5 (Brutal Justice)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "4K transfer".

The Tough Ones comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.5 GB

Feature: 25.5 GB

The transfer for this release is on par with Grindhouse Releasing’s 2019 Blu-ray, which is not surprising since both releases appear to use the same 4K source.

Brutal Justice comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 27 GB

Feature: 19.4 GB

The source for Brutal Justice is labeled "Grindhouse Version". There is source-related damage throughout that is minimal and never intrusive. That said, image clarity is strong, colors fare well, and black levels are adequate.

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

The Tough Ones comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both the audio tracks are in great shape; the dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, the ambient sounds and the score are well-represented. Range-wise, the Italian language track sounds more robust than the English language track. There are English subtitles for the Italian language track and English subtitles for the Italian language text.

Brutal Justice comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Though the dialog comes through clearly, there are some minor sibilance-related issues and a few audio imperfections that are fortunately minor.


Extras in disc one include a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate Italian credits sequence (3 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), an interview with actor Corrado Solari titled Standing Out (17 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with composer Franco Micalizzi titled Funk and Violence (26 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Maria Rosario Omaggio titled Men of Violence (20 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with Maurizio Matteo Merli son of actor Maurizio Merli titled A Family Affair (25 minutes 9 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua titled Fast and Furious (11 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with composer Roberto Donati titled Budy’s Story (10 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with director Umberto Lenzi composer Roberto Donati titled Armed to the Teeth (30 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an archival audio commentary with Mike Malloy, director of Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s, and an audio commentary with film critic Kim Newman and filmmaker Sean Hogan.

Extras on disc two include Aquarius Releasing-An Appreciation: By Mike Malloy (29 minutes 1 second, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), and an alternate version of The Tough Ones released in the US under the title Brutal Justice (82 minutes 57 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles).

Besides being about eleven minutes shorter, Brutal Justice also features obvious English language insert shots, and the main theme has added gunshots and explosion effects.

Other extras include reversible cover art, A3 fold-out poster, and a forty-page booklet with an interview with Umberto Lenzi by Eugenio Ercolani.


When discussing Italian genre cinema of the 1970’s, there’s no denying the importance that film scores played. Italian genre cinema has had a long history of creating memorable film scores that perfectly reinforce the mood of what’s unfolding onscreen. It should also come as no surprise that music plays such an important role in Italian genre cinema, given that the majority of the dialogue was recorded in post-production. With that being said, one could easily argue that composers’ contributions to 1970’s Italian genre cinema were on par with directors’ contributions. A case in point, Franco Micalizzi’s extraordinary The Tough Ones score does a superb job of capturing the immediacy of Inspector Tanzi’s mission to free the streets of criminals.

Throughout the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, Italian genre cinema inspired American cinema. And, despite the fact that the Italian westerns lasted longer than most genre cycles in Italian,By the early 1970's, American crime films like Dirty Harry and Death Wish would inspire a new Italian genre, Poliziotteschi (Italian crime films).

However, there’s no denying that American cinema may have influenced Poliziotteschi. It’s ultimately the elements that are inherently Italian that make this genre stand out from your typical clone. And in the case of Poliziotteschi cinema, at their core, they were a reflection of what was going on in Italy in the 1970’s. Another strength of Poliziotteschi's cinema is how most of these films return to elements that originated with Italian Neorealism cinema. By returning to their Italian Neorealism roots, this adds a leave of authenticity to Poliziotteschi's cinema.

From a production standpoint, The Tough Ones is a finely tuned machine that, like fine wine, gets better with more viewings. The premise of a society that’s in chaos because the laws harm law-abiding citizens by shielding criminals is superbly realized. And though some films can be seen as forward-thinking, It’s chilling how much the world of The Tough Ones represents the world we now live in. The more things change, the more they stay.

Content-wise, The Tough Ones has all the elements that have become synonymous with Poliziotteschi cinema. A hard-boiled protagonist who’s forced to work outside of the law to get results, a rogue’s gallery of colorful villains, thrilling action set pieces, and an unflinching depiction of the carnage.

The cast members all give excellent performances in their respective roles, particularly Tomas Milian's scene-stealing portrayal of a hunchback named Vincenzo Moretto. And what makes his performance all the more potent is how he initially portrays Vincenzo as a weakling who evokes sympathy before turning into a confident, cold-blooded killer.

Another performance of note is that of Maurizio Merli (Convoy Busters) in the role of this film’s protagonist, Inspector Tanzi. However, he delivers a one-note performance of a character with a one-track mind. This actually works in this film’s favor.

Other notable cast members include Arthur Kennedy (Lawrence of Arabia) in the role of Tanzi’s boss, Superintendent Ruini, Ivan Rassimov (Spasmo) in the role of a pimp named Tony Parenzo who gets his women hooked on heroin, and Maria Rosaria Omaggio (The Cop in Blue Jeans) in the role of Tanzi’s leftist girlfriend who works as a social worker.

Standout moments include a scene where Anna gets abducted by criminals who want to silence Tanzi. And to prove they mean business, they retrain her in a car that’s been placed in a junk-yard compactor. A scene where five young men who come from affluent families terrorize a couple making out in their car. After they trap the boyfriend in the car’s trunk, they then take turns raping the woman. With the scene ending with a very long and large stick, And a scene where the only thing preventing bank robbers from killing their hostages is Inspector Tanzi, who uses air ducks to enter the bank. These three moments are examples of Umberto Lenzi’s knack for creating tense, unsettling moments.

Though, there is a lot of crossover when it comes to the extra participants. These interviews are not the same as the interviews from Grindhouse Releasing’s 2019 Blu-ray. That said, these new extras cover a lot of the same topics as the old. With the only extra on both releases being Mike Malloy’s audio commentary. Also, the 88 Films Blu-ray release comes with a pair of extras exclusive to its release: Aquarius Releasing-An Appreciation By Mike Malloy and an alternate version of The Tough Ones titled Brutal Justice. When it comes to packaging, audio, and video, Grindhouse Releasing and 88 Films Blu-ray releases are must-have purchases if you're a fan of The Tough Ones.

The Tough Ones gets an exceptional release from 88 Films, highly recommended.

Note: Limited edition - 2000 Units Only.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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