Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 25/11/2021

FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP (1976)

Released in the UK for the first time, this classic poliziottesco was co-written and directed by Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox). It introduces Tomas Milian’s humorous rogue Monnezza, aka Garbage Can, and is packed full of fun action and car chases galore.

Detective Antonio Sarti (Claudio Cassinelli) breaks Garbage Can out of prison to aid him in tracking down a group of kidnappers (led by Henry Silva), who have taken a young girl hostage. Unfortunately, she has kidney problems and will die if she doesn’t get her medical attention in time. Picking up other criminals to help along the way, the unlikely team race against time to rescue the girl, and try not to kill each other as they do.

Lenzi’s police films are always entertaining. Here, his influences are clearly The French Connection and Dirty Harry, and the character of Garbage Can adds some comic relief that doesn’t always succeed. Milian is fantastic as the jailbird with a bubble perm and boasts dark eyes that make him appear to be wearing eyeliner. The spectacular set pieces are fun and are very seventies and hardly ever let up.

Lenzi’s eye for action makes the film an enjoyable romp, the touches of humour still holding up today. Fractured Vision’s Blu-ray release presents the movie with the choice of watching the original Italian language version or dubbed. If you choose the latter, you’ll know what to expect. There are also a pair of interesting commentaries, including one from the producer of the rather splendid Euro Crime documentary, Mike Martinez. Several video interviews with various cast and crew are included, including one with the daughter of the late Umberto Lenzi. Like the company’s Silent Action, the limited edition release also comes with a slipcase and booklet with more info on the film and an interview with Lenzi.

If you’re a fan of Italian cinema from the era or just love the rough-and-tumble aesthetic of the poliziottesco (which shares a few tropes with the giallo, but is focused more on the police rather than the murders), then this is a welcome release.

Free Hand for a Tough Cop is released on Blu-ray on November 29th.