The merry buccaneers at Videoasia may have put out their best collection yet. This time out it's a promising "Volume 1" of "Thug City Chronicles," billed as "10 O.G. Films, 100% Snitch-Free. It's one of their most geographically sweeping sets yet; while the majority of films are Italian, the Phillipines, Hong Kong and Mexico are also represented. The emphasis is on urban crime, so let's see what they came up with.
Duccio Tessari's Tony Arzenta (1973)was just written up quite enticingly by Hans A. over at Quiet Cool a week ago. Alain Delon is a hitman with a grudge. Richard Conte is one of the gangsters. Erika Blanc and Rosalba Neri are on hand. The Thug City copy is letterboxed, as are most of the films in the set, I'm happy to report. The English dub is the only option, of course. Looks good and after Hans's write up to have this show up at Best Buy was like manna from heaven. Check out the Italian trailer uploaded by jonnyredeyes.
This one film might make the whole set worthwhile. But there's more.
Massimo Dallamano's Bandidos is the ringer of the set. It's actually a spaghetti western, also known as You Die But I Live. It lacks the major spaghetti names, the best known performer probably being Enrico Maria Salerno, but it's letterboxed, looks and sounds good. It ought to be something to discover. Let's start with the Italian trailer, uploaded by Mart85
Efrem C. Pinon's Blind Rage is about a gang of blind bank robbers. It is not letterboxed, but it makes up for that by including the mighty Leo Fong and a final-act appearance by Fred Williamson as his Jesse Crowder character. I'm there.
Godfather's Daughter is short for Feng Ke An's The Godfather's Daughter Mafia Blues (1992), the main selling point of which is Japanese action starlet Yukari Oshima. Martial arts are promised as well as crime. This is taken from a letterboxed Mei Ah print retaining the original Chinese soundtrack, with English subtitles.
Now we come to what the box calls the "Italian Mob Trilogy." This consists of three films by Fernando Di Leo: Milano Calibro 9, Man Hunt (La Mala Ordina), and The Boss (Il Boss). The good Rev. Phantom has reviewed Man Hunt over at Fantamorte under the title The Italian Connection, and you shoud check out his homemade trailer for this flick.
In his review, the Rev. says he considers the other two films must-sees on the strength of the one. Well, now's his chance. All three are letterboxed, with English dubs the only option. The Boss looks incredibly brutal, or at least it starts that way with Henry Silva turning a private screening room into a charnel house with explosive ammo, while Milano Calibro 9 has a score by Luis Enriquez Bacalov that sounds like a classic just from the pre-credits sequence.
Here are the original Italian trailers for Milano Calibro 9 and Il Boss, both uploaded by jonnyredeyes
These three films will probably cinch the deal for a lot of people if the aforementioned films hadn't. And there's still more.
City Rats is the English title of actor-director Valentin Trujillo's Ratas de la Ciudad (1986). This looks to be a sort of juvenile delinquent film about a gang of mostly pre-teen feral kids and a slightly more affluent youth who falls in with them. It's probably the rattiest film in the set -- pun intended -- with a relatively fuzzy picture and a seriously defective soundtrack. But it has an awesome pre-credit sequence of mass murder by children. In fact, take a look at it in the original Spanish, courtesy of tehchinghe
Now imagine the kids attacking to the repeated dubbed yell for "MONEY! MONEY!" and you might agree with me that this, too, may be a prize piece of junk cinema. But there's still one more disc to check out.
This two-film disc focuses on the Italian crime work of Telly Savalas. I've already reviewed Silvio Narizzano's Redneck (aka Senza Ragione) from a streaming video, but the Thug City copy is a letterboxed upgrade. Savalas's partnership with Franco Nero, which Telly dominates as a hymn-singing loon, is definitely worth a look. The other film on the disc is here titled New Mafia Boss, but is also known as Crime Boss in other cheapo collections. It's directed by Alberto De Martino of Rain of Fire (Holocaust 2000) and Blazing Magnum fame and boasts cinematography by Aristide "Joe D'Amato" Massaccesi and a score by Francesco "Lone Wolf McQuade" De Masi. Unlike the copy that turns up in some Mill Creek Entertainment box sets, New Mafia Boss is not letterboxed here. However, it does have the complete opening credits, which the Mill Creek copy lacks, and may differ in other ways. I'll have to watch both versions to find out more.
By true DVD conoisseur standards none of these can be considered definitive editions, since viewing options are strictly limited and there's no supplemental material. But as an opportunity to see so many promising genre flicks, good and goofy alike, and most in what looks like very good condition, this is a great deal. I can't outright recommend it until I watch some of these films in their entirety, but I think I've given enough information for you to draw your own conclusions.