Street Law/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Street Law

It's the Italy of the seventies. The country is suffering under organized crime and corruption. Carlo Antonelli (Franco Nero) is just a random average citizen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, when being brutally beaten up and taken as hostage during a violent robbery. Left for dead and picked up by the police, he cannot believe how they don't seem to care about getting justice and simply drop the case. With revenge on his mind, Carlo starts his pursuit, blackmailing local thug Tommy (Giancarlo Prete) to get him in touch with the underworld so he can take the law into his own hands.

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Considered one of the seminal and most successful examples of Italian action and crime flicks, Street Law for the most part was the self-evident follow up to the triumphant first collaboration between Castellari and Nero in High Crime. Instead of pushing the movie into the Polizio category and in contrast to the genre revitalizing character of Spaghetti Westerns, this one might be also taken as contribution to a recent internationally popular wave of Urban Westerns highly influenced by Sam Peckinpah (The Getaway), Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) and Michael Winner (Death Wish).

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Almost painting every frame of cinematic beauty in composition and expression, Enzo G. Castellari is borrowing more than a few things from Peckinpah, from building up tension to his use of slow motion. Whilst political resignation could also be taken as an influence by Damiano Damiani for the national flavour, one thing that stands out is why some audiences consider Street Law to be rather weak. Carlo Antonelli is human from head to toe, always being confronted with his failures and repeatedly suffering. Backed by an amazing psychedelic rock score from Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, Antonelli's delusional lust for justice tranforms into almost surreal ambience posing him as the martyr for the angry and frustrated burgesses of the time, erupting to a Castellari trademark industrial staged showdown to remember.

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Superficially viewed, Street Law was blamed as a right-wing statement by the Italian left. Having a closer look it is much more reflective than you might think. Like in the film Walking Tall, Nero's character is confronted with unexpected results of his vigilante justice like his girlfriend Barbara (Barbara Bach) predicted. The situation claims to his intellect with a decision quite a few Italian inhabitants could have come to at the time, but besides the graphic result of Antonelli's changeover to the perpetrators by resorting to violence, the audience is left with the uncertain question if this could be a better situation than just having been mortified and robbed.

Reviewed by AWSOM50

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