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Convoy Busters

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Posted 27th April 2009 at 11:41 AM by Philleh

“Macho, macho man! I want to be a macho man!”

The ‘poliziottesco’ genre couldn’t have asked for a more fitting song. With big tough men, often sporting gloriously oversized moustache’s and even bigger guns, strut around most major Italian cities making up their own laws and following their own rules. It’s a genre that contains more immorality than a whore house in Mexico, and that’s just the Police force!

Tough guys like Franco Nero, Maurizio Merli and Fabio Testi made a killing off these types of characters. It’s not hard to see why this genre was so big in Italy in the 70’s: what with all the Red Brigades blowing shit up and political corruption causing many a headache. The ‘every-day man’ needed a hero, and by golly did they get their fair share once Dirty Harry became a smash-hit.

Convoy Busters is a late entry in the poliziottesco genre, but it still has all the aggression and hatred for corrupt (usually rich – much like its genre predecessor, the giallo) people that the genre had earlier in this lovely decade. It also has the slap happy presence of Maurizio Merli, but is it any good?

Starting off with the discovery of a dead girl washed up in a canal, the police are soon to find a link between the dead girl and a body of a young man in a burnt out car elsewhere in the city. It transpires that the girl had heard some sensitive information regarding the exploits of the super-powerful Mr. Degan (Massimo Serato). Commissario Olmi’s (Merli) dick is now very hard with the thought of catching such scum and beats a confession out of the suspects’ son (Marco Gelardini) in regards to why his father had his friends killed. Later that evening the son changes his story and takes the fall himself.

If that wasn’t enough too take the lead out of his pencil, the judge in which he requires a warrant is clearly in Degan’s pocket, and stalls Olmi’s investigation while Degan plots to get his son freed. On transfer to prison Degan’s men (in police duds) pull over the car and gun down the police and free Degan’s son. Luckily, Olmi hears of this and takes off in a chopper to hunt them down, and hunt them down he does! Hanging out of the chopper while the felons run for their lives he calmly takes pot shots at them all, killing them one by one, until it’s just Degan Jr. left. Killing him (in a rather cool slow-motion sequence) Olmi can finally rest for the day and focus on getting Degan Sr. another day.

Naturally things don’t go so smooth and he soon finds himself on assassin’s hit lists: who try, and fail, to blow him up and the like. When he shoots an innocent man dead, believing him to be another assassin he reassesses his life and decides once again that he really wants to bring Mr. Degan down. That pesky bloody judge screws him over again though and Degan gets away, realising he’s out of his depth he requests to be transferred out of Rome: his boss agrees, sending his to a small coastal town, where he hooks up with the beautiful Anna (Olga Karlatos – Fulci’s Zombie). What could possibly go wrong?

Convoy Busters is a riot, packed with unintentional laughter, making us cheer for a man who will happily murder anyone he dislikes in cold blood and gets away with it!: you’ll wish it were you. As Merli goes about happy slapping anyone who won’t answer him (read: give him the answer he wants), man or woman, you’re not safe from his furious hands. And when he retires to the quiet life, packing his gun away in a draw, you’ll be laughing your tits off as he constantly battles with the urge to play with his pistol: due to Merli’s constipated look as he emotes. It’s vintage 70’s cheese at its best.

Another plus point for the film is that director, Stelvio Massi (The Last Round), gives the story time to grow; with the first half of the story lasting a good fifty minutes, giving us chance to understand Olmi’s frustrations as Degan gets away with his shady industries and the whole corrupt place before he decides to relocate to quieter pastures.

Which also brings us to the film’s main downfall, due its talky approach, many may find it a turn off: especially if you’re in the mood for a balls-to-the-wall action extravaganza. Those who are familiar, and in love with, the genre will be able to over look this and enjoy the hammy machismo of Merli and Massi’s approach to the action: This approach ranges from brutally realistic to ridiculous.

All the actors do a suitable job in their respective roles, with Merli showing why he’s the headliner, his stares of confusion, anger and intrigue all appear to have the same face: he’s like Ben Stiller in Zoolander trying to master a new look, just for it too look identical to the previous one! The lovely Olga Karlatos is criminally underused here, but that’s to be expected from a film that deals specifically with its male characters, she is pretty much there to look pretty and provide a little flesh: a shame, as she’s a likable performer.

As is the norm with No Shame DVDs the presentation is the best it could possibly look, with all the colours rich and the blemishes popping up in rare occasions. The Italian audio is also a nice plus, but for the added touch of hilarity check out the English dub! Extra’s wise we have been given a generous amount of goodies, seeing as this isn’t actually a major entry into the genre. They have compiled five interviews into a featurette, which pays tribute to the late, great Merli, with contributions from his son Maurizio Matteo Merli, directors Ruggero Deodato and Enzo G. Castellari, actor Enio Girolami and journalist Eola Capacci. At ninety minutes in length you get your buck’s worth, but it becomes a chore to sit through. Finishing off the extras is a trailer for the main feature and for a new poliziotteschi Cop on Fire with Merli’s son.

Inside the case No Shame have also provided a mini comic book called Crime Story: The Da Falco Connection, it has bugger all to do with Convoy Busters but it makes for a good read and will have many people wanting to get there hands on more material like it. It’s the cherry on top of a fine DVD for a much deserved release.

Directed by:
Stelvio Massi

Cast:
Maurizio Merli
Olga Karlatos
Massimo Serato
Marco Gelardini

Recommendations: Heroin Busters & The Last Round
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