When a powerful gang of extortionists forces the businessmen of an Italian city to pay for their protection, the tough Inspector Nico Palmieri investigates the case. However he is surprised by the racketeers and ends up seriously injured. When he is discharged from the hospital, he joins the victims of the extortion who are trying to find a witness to testify in court as the mobsters are always released by the Attorney Giovanni Giuni. Only the restaurant owner, Luigi Giulti, accepts this burden; but his daughter is brutally raped by the gangsters and commits suicide later. Nico is pressed by his superiors to drop the case but he invites his friend, Pepe, to help him using illegal methods - believing that the end justifies the means. There is a war between the criminals and the police with tragic consequences, and Nico is fired from the police department. Nico decides to join Luigi; Pepe; a marksman that saw his wife being raped and burned alive; the owner of a nightclub maimed for the rest of his life; and a felon that wants a passport and destroy the gang - in a battle that becomes bloodshed between vigilantes and criminals.
Nico Palmieri is a police inspector who battles against hoodlums terrorising a sleepy Italian village, extorting cash from the locals. With the threat of violence, no one dares to act except a restaurant owner who approaches Palmieri and sings like a canary. As a result, his young daughter is raped. Discovering that the terrorism is related to drug dealers, Palmieri is forbidden to continue investigating his case by his superior - so he goes it alone. Palmieri recruits men who have become victims of the crooks and the film ends with a bloody massacre. Bullets fly and blood spatters the screen.
Enzo G. Castellari has enriched Italian cult-cinema in various genres, and "Il Grande Racket" of 1976 is arguably the coolest of them all. At least this breathtaking, ultraviolent and supremely nasty Poliziottesco has surpassed "Keoma" and the original "Inglorious Bastards" of 1978 on my list of favorite Castellari flicks. "Racket" delivers gritty, rough and brutal Italo-Crime excitement in its purest form and proudly stands up there with the works of Fernando Di Leo and Umberto Lenzi among the true highlights of 70s Italian Crime Cinema.
The vast majority of Italian crime flicks from the time are about unorthodox cops hunting sadistic criminals (inspired by "Dirty Harry"); some, such as Castellari's own "Il Cittadino Si Ribbela" ("The Citizen Rebels",1974, which I regretfully haven't yet seen) are about enraged citizens, who, after being tormented by thugs for too long, take the law in their own hands. This wonderfully gritty gem actually serves both premises! Cult-star Fabio Testi plays Rome police Inspector Nico Palmieri, who leads a hopeless battle against a protection racket of hoodlums who terrorize and torment a whole neighborhood of innocent people. Palmitieri's rough but legal methods always seem to fail, as the gangsters' surviving victims are too intimidated to talk, which is why a sleazy lawyer always gets his scumbag clients out. When all legal methods fail, the rough-and-ready copper is not afraid to bend the law in order to provide justice...
Fabio Testi, a regular leading man in Italian genre-cinema, delivers another great performance in his role here. Of all the films I've seen him in, I would say that this is Testi's second-best (the unmatched No 1. being Massimo Dallamano's 1972 Giallo-masterpiece "Cosa Avete Fatto A Solange"). The rest of the cast includes several familiar faces for fans of Italian cinema, such as Castellari-regulars Joshua Sinclair and Orso Maria Guerrini (who played Franco Nero's malicious brothers in "Keoma"), Salvatore Borghese (who was in many Bud Spencer & Terence Hill Comedies, as well as many Spaghetti Westerns) and others. It is notable that the gang of sadistic thugs in this film includes a particularly sadistic female (played by Marcella Michelangeli).
"Racket" brings the whole spectrum of genre-typical nastiness: Loads of bloody violence, rape, sadistic murders, brutal torture - there's plenty of it all here. The film is action packed, and, the action sequences are very well-done. The film si full of violent shootouts, car chases, fistfights etc., and, as usual Castellari provides some spectacular effects (such as a car rolling spinning over down a hill from the inside). The cinematography is very well-done, and the score is genre-typically great and underlines the adrenaline-driven atmosphere. All things considered, "Racket" is a spectacular example for Italian Crime Cinema, which ranges among the highlights of both director Castellari's and leading-man Testi's careers. A fan of Poliziotteschi in particular and Italian Cult Cineama in general should make sure not to miss this brutal, action-packed and remarkably gritty gem. Highly recommended! Very, VERY few movies out there are so damn perfect that they deserve an impeccable 10/10 rating Pretty much all movies have at least one or two minor flaws, and so does Enzo G. Castellari's "The Big Racket", whether it's the horrendous English dubbing or the rough-around-the-edges editing. But what the heck, whenever a film provides me with this much adrenalin kicks and excitement, I simply must overlook the little shortcomings and reward it with a well-deserved 10! Castellari made a lot of magnificent movies, including the unforgettable western "Keoma" and the legendary war-adventure "The Inglorious Bastards", but this mixture between the so-called Poliziottesco and vigilante thriller ranks high among his best work, and should be experienced by every self-respecting fan of '70s grindhouse/euro- exploitation cinema. In the Italian crime thrillers of the seventies, the coppers are unorthodox and as good as lawless, but rightly so because the thugs they are battling are ultimately vicious and relentless. In "The Big Racket", all merchants of a middle-sized city are forced to pay incredible large sums for protection, and if they don't pay they see their life-work burned to the ground and their loved ones raped and butchered in front of their eyes. Police inspector Nico Palmieri risks his life every day (and you make that very literally) to put a stop to this mafia crime network, but he gets blocked by standard police procedures, corrupt superiors and sleazebag lawyers. When all his regular attempts fail, like infiltrating in the crime racket or setting up an ambush at the train station, Pamieri is dishonorably discharged. Not a bad thing, though, as now he can assemble a vigilante team of which each separate member has a very personal reason for blood vengeance. I'm a tremendous fan of the "Poliziottesco" genre and I truly love how the best films of such directors like Umberto Lenzi, Fernando Di Leo, Stelvio Massi and – of course – Enzo G. Castellari overwhelm the viewer with non-stop action, raw character portraits, brutality and spectacular stunts. "The Big Racket" hardly grants you the opportunity to breathe as you're constantly on the edge of your seat with suspense. The main villains in this film, including even a young female, are particularly hateful since they clearly also take pleasure in raping defenseless women and executing police officers. The victims, on the other hand, also noticeably suffer emotionally and physically (like, for instance, the restaurant owner and the Olympic champion skeet shooter). The phenomenally illustrated contrast between good and evil makes "The Big Racket" one of the most realistic films of its kind and sometimes even genuinely difficult to watch. When the thugs eventually get what they deserve, your first reflection immediately is that they still haven't suffered enough for what they've done; that's how engaging "The Big Racket" is, in fact! Needless to state that, with its graphic and uncompromisingly shown violence, the film is not suitable for people with a weak stomach or sensitive nerve system. Most of the stunts are also incredibly well-handled, like the sequence in which Palmieri's car is tumbling down from a cliff with him still in it! Fabio Testi gives a powerful performance. The best I've seen so far of his, although I have yet "Revolver" waiting on my must-see list and I'm also expecting a lot from that. The supportive cast is splendid as well and, as often the case in Poliziottesco gems as well, the soundtrack contributes a great deal to the grim atmosphere as well. 10 out of 10, without the slightest form of doubt or hesitation! 646f9e108c
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