This 1984 cop actioner is one of those Italian productions that tries to pass itself off as American through and through. With Nevada and Phoenix locations; Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson in the lead roles and the crew hiding behind Anglo-sounding pseudonyms it almost gets away with it – unless you know who co-star John Morghen is; that behind such names as director Larry Ludman and editor Vincent Thomas we have Fabrizio De Angelis and Vincenzo Tomassi; or recognise a re-used suspense cue from The New York Ripper.
Plenty of John Morghen
Such games aside what really matters is whether the film delivers the goods. The answer is an unqualified yes, with Svenson and Williamson having a good buddy movie rapport with one another; Morghen making for a suitably despicable villain (“he’s wearing body armour – shoot him in the head!”); and plenty of car and helicopter chases, shoot outs, stunts and explosions.
Plenty of this
Maybe we could have done without the obligatory car crashing through a fruit stall set-up, or the soaking of a Salvation Army band as another car smashes into a fire hydrant, but such excesses also demonstrate De Angelis’s commitment to giving the audience what they want and more.
Much the same can be said of a romantic interlude in which Svenson’s goes to see a long-suffering on-off girlfriend, except that it offers not only the opportunity to show some exposed breasts but also to re-affirm the heterosexuality of the two ex-Vietnam buddies, that there is nothing romantic going on between them, the phallic symbolism of Williamson’s omnipresent cigars and Svenson’s hand-cannon magnum notwithstanding.
Indeed, just in case we have not got the message, there’s also a Police Academy-esque scene where Svenson is misdirected to a gay bar, the Lulu Belle. Its denizens do not take kindly to his presence, although he is able to get away merely by making his excuses, without the need to pull out his weapon...
Another Hollywood reference point of the time is Superman III, with the film’s Mcguffin – a computer nerd and his girlfriend have worked out a system to beat the Las Vegas slots by monitoring when the machines are about to make a big payout – having a similar urban legend quality to Richard Pryor’s fractions of a cent scam there.