Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976)
Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is great title but will the film live up to it?
Directed by Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust, House on the Edge of the Park), with a screenplay by Fernando Di Leo (Milano Calibro 9, The Boss) and starring Marc Porel (Don't Torture a Duckling, The Psychic) as Fred and Ray Lovelock (Almost Human, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) as Tony; a pair of plain clothes police officers who belong to "The Special Squad". They don't care about the rules and if anyone at city hall doesn't like it, they can swivel! Backing them up is their boss Adolfo Celi (Thunderball). How's that for an exploitation pedigree!
There really isn't much of a plot. There's a basic storyline in which our two heroes try to take down the local kingpin who, meanwhile, is trying to discover their identities. That's not really very important as it's all about how they get to that end point. It seems that there's a shoot-out, car/bike chase, punch-up or sex every 10 minutes.
The film starts with Lovelock (in full-on Robert Redford mode) getting a "backy" from Porel on his motorbike to some groovy sounds. They both look so clean cut. It's almost like a younger and more handsome Ratso giving Joe Buck a ride. This is a real pair of handsome fuckers! However, this no ordinary bike ride and the dynamic duo foil a nasty mugging and take off after the scumbags and into what is probably the best vehicle chase scene in Italian cinema history; impressively chaotic and destructive. No cardboard boxes or sheets of glass were harmed although a poor guide dog doesn't fair too well.
From here on in the film is a wild storm of sex and guns.
Often compared to Dirty Harry, to me Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is more like those boy's own, buddy cop movies and shows from the 1970s: Starsky & Hutch, The Professionals, The Sweeney, and the freeze-frame ending was straight out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I've also read about the homoerotic subtext, but I believe that the two leads are more like two little boys who just never grew up. The women in the film treat them as boys and not men. The city is their playground where they play "war" against another gang of boys (note the target practice scene in the quarry at 01:12:00). When you think about it, most of these type of films follow the same pattern of men as boys and I don't think that there's anything particularly wrong with that at all. Fred and Tony may be sociopathic boys, but boys nonetheless.
Yes, there's a fair amount of chauvinism but this is tempered quite brilliantly by the attitudes of the women. During one scene they ask their boss's secretary with which of them she'd like to sleep; she replies with an unexpectedly brilliant comeback. A little while later there's a scene where both Tony and Fred are screwing a suspect's sister, the woman is dominant throughout and exhausts the men. Finally, their libido's nearly gets them killed. Most progressive and un-Italian!
The performances are terrific with a real chemistry showing between the two leads. There's a cool and funky soundtrack that's all full of horns, Rhodes keyboard and loads of groove. The film is immaculately shot with really impressive camera-work during the action scenes and some excellent gore effects with loads of Humbrol red blood. The dialogue has a natural touch and doesn't sound at all forced. It's also nicely witty in places.
The 88 Films Blu-Ray has an excellent picture and sound. The subs are pretty good and seem to follow the dialogue with only the occasional spelling or grammatical error. The only extras are a trailer and some stills, but both English and Italian soundtracks are included.
Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man has high octane thrills, handsome fuckers with guns, bike chases and explosions. It's loud, crude, funny and energetic. One of the finest buddy/cop movies ever made.