Box-set Review: Violent Streets – The Umberto Lenzi /Tomas Milian Collection (1974 -1978)

March 5, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Those delightful devils have become criminally minded and have gathered five of director’s Umberto Lenzi’s (Nightmare City, Cannibal Ferox) crime flicks, all featuring actor Tomas Milian, and eleased them in one handy-dandy box-set aptly called  Violent Streets – The Umberto Lenzi /Tomas Milian Collection.

Things kick off with 1974’s Almost Human:

Giulio (Milian) is a bank robber who gives zero fucks when it comes to being a murderous lunatic. It’s that last bit that finds him kicked soundly from his bank robbing gang straight into his girlfriend  Iona’s (Anita Strindberg) abode. Human Sponge is super effective!

Soon Giulio spies comely Mary Lou (Laura Belli), a girl that comes from a Richy Rich type of sitch with Daddy Dearest owning the company Iona works for no less, and gets the brilliant idea to throw together a lil’ gang and kidnap the heiress in the hopes of collecting a giant ransom.

There’s a huge fuckin’ fly in the ointment however as Inspector Grandi (Henry Silva) is wiseto their bullshit and is aiming to make their crime spree come to an abrupt end!

What’s good with Almost Human?

Well for starters, Milian is infinitely watchable as a super-creep that isn’t afraid to have someone blow him at gunpoint or kill a kid all in the name of achieving his life’s goal of makin’ an easy buck, and Ray Lovelock and Gino Santercole as his partners in crime are every bit his match! Also up to snuff is the ever-awesome Silva who really cuts loose in the third act.

For me the real star of the show is the film’s absolute gleeful displays of violence and sleaze. Our ”heroes” are a bunch of psychos that terrorize anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path and every despicable deed is presented with wild abandon!

Additionally this film features a killer soundtrack from the legend himself, Ennio Morricone and that  always adds immeasurably to any production!

As for special features, things begin with two audio commentaries. The first commentary features screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, who discusses the origins of the pictures story and the turbulent times it was created in, and the second comes courtesy of film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth who discuss the film’s legacy and place within the Italian crime film genre.

Next comes interviews with Lenzi, Milian, Gastaldi, and Silva, as well as the film’s trailer.

Also included is the aforementioned Morricone score on a separate CD.

Violent, fast-paced, and packed with all manner of sinister deeds; Almost Human is one hell of a wild crime spree caper that pulls no punches!

Next in the collection is 1975’s Syndicate Sadists:

Motorcycle riding expert shot Rambo (Milian, and yes the character is named after the main character in David Morrell’s 1972 novel of the same name/later Stallone vehicle) blows into town to visit an old friend, only to have that friend be brutally murdered shortly thereafter due to hisrole in the local police force’s anti-mob task force.

Now Rambo is hell-bent on getting revenge, and soon all of the town’s mobs… yes, they have multiple, are hot on his ass. Fortunately our hero has a plan to play them against each other, but one wrong move can end in disaster!

The main selling point with Syndicate Sadists is it’s absolute ass-load of impressive action set-pieces including car chases, motorcycle mayhem, explosions, and guns-a-blazin’ shootouts. It’s a dizzying blend that keeps this one moving along at a nice clip.

Thankfully when things aren’t blowin’ up real good-like we have Milian’s intelligent hero who remains cool under pressure while causing all manner of violent mayhem as he rides hard down Revenge Road… Rambo is an interesting character that is always entertaining to follow on his journey.

As for special features accompanying Syndicate Sadists we get interviews with Lenzi, actress Ida Galli, and actors Alessandro Cocco and Bruno Di Luia, the film’s trailer, and the film’s soundtrack (once again on a separate CD which also contains the soundtrack to Brothers Till We Die… but we’ll get back to that one later!) featuring the music of composer Franco Micalizzi.

Moving on we come to 1976’s Free Hand For A Tough Cop:

Sergio Marazzi ‘Monnezza’ is just trying to catch some ‘tube when Commissioner Antonio Sarti (Claudio Cassinelli) gives him some static in the form of a punch to the face!

Why the show of affection? Why because the local police want our man to become a one-man Suicide Squad and put an end to a spate of mob-related kidnappings and rescue their latest victim, Camilla (Susanna Melandri) the daughter of a very wealthy dude who is none to happy about her predicament seeing as she has previous health issues that require mucho medical assistance.

Will Monnezza be able to complete his mission, or will the machinations of those behind the kidnappings prove his undoing?

Free Hand For A Tough Cop showcases Milian going about his business decked out in a ridiculous wig and guy-liner so you just know you’re going to be in for a fun ride!

Regardless of those bizarre choices, Milian is in fine form here, and his Monnezza is a charming anti-hero who’s misadventures are entertaining to follow throughout, and the supporting cast is strong too with Cassinelli serving as the perfect gruff foil for our more free-wheeling protagonist and Henry Silva back on the scene once more as the scenery-chewing villainous Frenchman, Brescianelli.

As has been in the case in the previous pictures, this film is no slouch in the action department either, with chases and gunplay aplenty, and  as before, the pace here is quick indeed and filled with mounting tension.

Special features on this disc include interviews with Lenzi, actor Corrado Solari, screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti, cinematographer Nino Celeste, and producer Ugo Tucci, and extended bank robbery sequence, and the film’s trailer.

Next upis 1977’s The Cynic, The Rat And The Fist:

After putting away criminal “Chinaman” Maietto (Milian), Inspector Leonardo Tanzi (Mauricio Merli) is shot while trying to walk a calmer path in life… but while left for dead, Tanzi is anything but!

The top brass decide to let the public at large believe Tanzi is dead, and suggest he lie low for awhile, which he promptly ignores and begins a covert revenge mission against the mobsters making the streets of Rome a nightmare… and guess who he enlists to help him on this quest?

Will Chinaman and Tanzi be able to take down the mob, or will they take each other out first?

Not to sound like a broken record, but if you’re this far in you can probably guess what I’m going to say; Lenzi makes The Cynic, The Rat And The Fist an action-packed, tightly paced festival of machismo, violence, and crime that keeps things moving at a rocket pace while throwing car chases, shootouts, brawling, nudity, explosions and all manner of other awesomeness directly at our faces!

The cast here is fantastic as well with Manly Merli and Milian constantly at odds (which apparently was the case in real life as well) while beating mobster ass, and an appearance from John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, A Nightmare on Elm Street) is always welcome!

Special features this go around include interviews with Lenzi (three in fact), screenwriter Sacchetti, and Saxon, the film’s trailer, and a separate CD featuring the picture’s soundtrack once again provided by Micalizzi.

Lastly comes 1978’s Brothers Till We Die:

Monnezza is back baby, and this time Milian is playing him as well as his brother Vincenzo Marazzi!

Speaking of Vincenzo, he is currently laying low in the sewers. Why the ninja turtle act? How about this bullshit; his own gang tried to murder him and make off with the loot from a police vehicle they recently robbed!

Seeking assistance, Vincenzo seeks out his brother, and together they form an uneasy alliance to get revenge on those no good bastards what did Vince wrong!

Let me tell you cats n’ creeps, we get another fine Milian wig in this picture (as well as two, two TWO times the guyliner)!

We also get Milian absolutely devouring the scenery in his dual role and that makes this picture an ton of fun to watch, which is only aided and abetted by this film possessing a more humorous streak than the others in this set… but don’t worry, there is plenty of Lenzi’s trademark explosive action on display here as well!

Special features on this disc include interviews with Lenzi, editor Eugenio Alabiso, Micalizzi, and composer Antonello Venditti, and the film’s trailer.

Bottom line: Violent Streets – The Umberto Lenzi /Tomas Milian Collection is a tour de sleaze through the rough streets where hardened, yet charismatic, criminals cavort with wild abandon, and said journey is an action lover’s delight and shouldn’t be missed by crime flick aficionados!





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