AKA-THE CRIME NOVEL
REVIEW BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY-MICHELE PLACIDO CAST-KIM ROSSI STUART, ANNA MOUGLALIS, PIERFRANCESCO FAVINO, CLAUDIO SANTAMARIA, STEFANO ACCORSI. RICCARDO SCAMARCIO and JASMINE TRINCA. SOURCE-J-BICS (THAI / NTSC REGION 3 DVD / 2006 / RUNTIME 147 MINS)
Four childhood friends, Lebanese, Dandy, Ice and Grand dream of taking on Romeís underworld and becoming itís ruler. As they quickly assemble a group of people they can trust, they take that dream and make it a reality piece by piece. Their quick rise to the underworld throne of Rome also brings them all the dead baggage with it. As police investigator Scialoja dedicates his career to bringing this ruthless gang to it knees. Prostitution, drugs and sheer violent deaths, leave a bloody trail, but as Scialoja gets closer, the trailer gets longer. Soon, as the gang are now at the top of their game, so is the distrust among one another, causing ripple through the underworld and eventually sees the once childhood friends to fall as quickly as they rose.
Born from the classic polizia of the 70's Michele Placido brings together ROMANZO CRIMINALE, a raw and very brutal tale of crimeís underworld in Italy during the 70's and 80's. Spanning through Italyís fight for democracy and to clean up itís turbulent yearís of terror to the fall of the Berlin Wall at the end of the 80's. Palcido brilliantly bring together not only a film that deals with this time period, but also incorporates footage intertwined through the film itself. Giving you a sense of sheer realism, giving not only the characters and events a sense of actuality, but it runs through into the viewers themselves. So in a way you not only are treated to just one film, but an epic of sorts.
This is truly an example of the power Italyís cinematic industry still has when it gets itís bearings together. Plus, the raw talents it has in itís arsenal. ROMANZO CRIMINALE is not all that different from films that rocked North America like THE GODFATHER or GOODFELLAS. Except for the Italian flavor and the hint of some of the more popular classic 70's polizia films of the 70's. Where the anti-hero rained right and law never that far behind. Again, like many solid films of this nature, ROMANO CRIMINALE is populated with music that many would recognize off the bat. Songs for that period of time, groups that helped shape that era.
Hard nosed, fast paced and topped with action. ROMANZO CRIMINALE has many factors that simply entertain you right to the ending. Bloody executions, beautiful women and gunplay that would give the most harden criminals a hard on. Director Michele Placido doesnít hold back on anything here at all. This also rings true with his character ensemble and the actors who lived them for this period of shooting. There isnít one that stands out like a sore thumb, they all work in unison. Though I have to put one actor in the spotlight for his over the top performance, Kim Rossi Stuart who plays Ice. His ability to give that edgy feel yet to kill at a whim and keep it clam and collective. An even keel is kept his character of Ice in check, especially when he starts to fall in love with Roberta (Jasmine Trinca) a drop dead beautiful yet innocent draw to her aura. The connection between the two heightened the filmís storyline and feel as a whole.
A storyline that spans well over 2 hours and almost 2 decades. Almost a flawless film with little to pick at in terms of productions values or negativities. The flow of the film runs in sync of the storylineís fast pace. Characters build ups are solid and arenít hindered due to this pace, in fact it only gives them more of an adrenaline jolt. Though there are pockets of serene, thus usually followed by the unexpected. When you live in a world such as they do, this is one aspect you have to learn to bide by, forever looking over your shoulder and never turning your back to no one. Distrust is a theme that is a clam element throughout ROMANO CRIMINALE, one that certainly injects a dose of realism, one that will carry out until the very ending. Let me just say, this is simply an ending you might think you know, and perhaps may figure out, but youíll never know until the very end and see that what you knew was not what you thought it would be.
Though I would say it would be better to purchase the Italian release of this on Warner Bros. DVD, but this Thai release I viewed was certainly quite good as well. The Italian release is slim on extras and what extras it has is only in Italian. As far as the main feature itself, I believe itís from the same print as the Italian release. So, for almost $10 cheapier, which one would you go with? Both versions as shown in a widescreen anamorphic presentation with Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital audio with removable English subtitles, though of course this Thai version as removable Thai subtitles as well. Both picture and audio are superb and almost flawless. The only extra on this Thai disc is the filmís Italian trailer.
FILM/STORY-4/5 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE-4/5 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO-4/5 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS-1.5/5 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-3.5/5 BITCH SLAPS
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