Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Death Rage (1976)

The ad copy for this film tried desperately to cast it as a spiritual successor to Charles Bronson's Death Wish, which was released two years earlier.  This aspiration is thwarted mostly by the fact that it is very boring.

A New York mobster is gunned down in Naples, and the Americans decide they have to respond in kind.  Their chosen agent is Peter Marciani, a deadly hitman who retired several years earlier after the death of his brother.  Marciani is coaxed back for one more hit by a simple formula: the target - a man named Gallo - murdered his brother.

Marciani's plan seems to mostly be to swan around Naples while hooking up with a much younger woman and occasionally killing any of Gallo's men who try to take him out.  He's aided in his nebulous plans by an eager young man who aspires to the life of a gangster, and hindered (barely) by the attentions of the chronically incompetent Naples police.

For a movie called Death Rage, this film displays an almost total lack of passion.  Yul Brynner portrays the lead role - his last performance, if IMDB is to be believed - with stolid indifference.  Most of the rest of the cast meanwhile are Italian, and their English dialogue is clumsily dubbed and clumsily performed.  Of course, they're not helped by a lethargic script, which stumbles along as disinterestedly as the acting.  Even the "twist" ending is utterly banal and predictable.

Italian knock-offs / homages of well known films (pick the term you think suits best) are rarely good, but they can sometimes be energetic or esoteric enough to be entertaining.  This somnambulistic effort is none of those things.  Avoid, unless you're suffering from insomnia.

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