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Unmasking Undercover Smugglers: Maurizio Merli Takes the Law Into His Own Hands in a Gripping Crime Drama

MOVIE REVIEW
Convoy Busters (Un poliziotto scomodo)

    

Genre: Action, Crime
Year Released: 1978, 2023 Cauldron Films Blu-ray
Runtime: 1h 40m
Director(s): Stelvio Massi
Writer(s): Danilo Massi, Gino Capone, Teodoro Corrà
Cast: Maurizio Merli, Olga Karlatos, Massimo Serato, Mario Feliciani, Mimmo Palmara
Where To Watch: Available May 16, pre-order at www.cauldron-films.com or www.mvdshop.com


RAVING REVIEW: Fasten your seatbelts, folks! The world of Italian cinema invites you to a thrilling adventure with CONVOY BUSTERS, a film that blends thrills and entertainment. Maurizio Merli, the actor synonymous with the Poliziotteschi genre, takes center stage as Olmi, the hard-nosed cop in Rome. He lands himself a spot in the Emergency Squad due to his evasion of the pursuit of justice, where his enthusiasm for bringing criminals to book skyrockets.


“The Poliziotteschi genre is a subgenre of crime and action films that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s and reached the height of their popularity in the 1970s. Influenced by 1970s French crime films and gritty 1960s and 1970s American cop films and vigilante films, Poliziotteschi films were made amidst an atmosphere of socio-political turmoil in Italy known as Years of Lead and increasing Italian crime rates. The movies generally featured graphic and brutal violence, organized crime, car chases, vigilantism, heists, gunfights, and corruption up to the highest levels. The protagonists were generally rugged working-class loners, willing to act outside a corrupt or overly bureaucratic system.”

A twist of fate after a botched assassination attempt sees our main character reassigned to a tranquil coastal police department. However, tranquility is surface deep as he unearths an undercover smuggling operation under their noses. The departure of the potent antagonist, Massimo Serrato, who plays Degan, doesn't diminish the film's charm. The movie has a certain appeal through an intoxicating mix of action-packed sequences, humor, and Merli's stellar performance.

Although a late entrant to the Poliziotteschi genre, Merli made this genre his own. In CONVOY BUSTERS, Merli dons multiple hats - cop, judge, and executioner. His disagreement and indifference to rules inject humor into the dramatic plotline, making for a thoroughly enjoyable watch. Although I wish the film were a little heavier on the action front, with a title like this, I was hoping for a more crazy “convoy” spectacle.

Merli's Commissioner Olmi, a tough-talking enforcer, is the heart of CONVOY BUSTERS. His ruthless interrogation methods and liberal use of his firearm render him a formidable figure. The narrative doesn't examine the consequences of his actions, leaving it to the viewers' discretion. This was an interesting take; sometimes, leaving things up to the audience makes the experience more fun.

The less-than-shining depiction of law enforcement was interesting for the film, and they were trying to make a point while creating an enjoyable action film. The narrative structure of CONVOY BUSTERS is sometimes a puzzle, with Director Massi fitting together scenes that sometimes disorient viewers. The plot takes focus from one point to another, and characters pop in and out, challenging viewers to connect the dots.

In the second half, the film shifts gears to a slower pace, allowing audiences to get a better handle on the storyline. The film's editing style also veers off the beaten track, with a unique look and feel to the movie viewing experience, adding to the story's complexities.

CONVOY BUSTERS is an essential entry into Italian cinema; I will say, if you don’t mind subtitles, I think the original language version is more engaging and less jarring than the English language dub based on the little bit I watched of the dubbed version. Upon its release, it garnered significant praise in Italy and quickly amassed a cult following.

New extras:
- Maurizio Merli: A Lethal Hunter of Subtle Variation with tough-guy film expert Mike Malloy
- My Father, the Cop: Interview with Maurizio Matteo Merli
- The Massi Touch: Interview with Danilo Massi
- Stelvio Massi video tribute by Danilo Massi
- Stelvio Massi Image gallery
- Commentary by Mike Malloy & Mike Martinez

Archival extras:
- Alternate “Convoy Busters” title sequence
- A Star Was Born - A conversation with Journalist Eolo Capacci
- Bullet in the Closet - A conversation with Director Ruggero Deodato
- ER Prota - A conversation with director Enzo G Castellari
- Merli on Merli - a conversation with actor Maurizio Matteo Merli
- My Good Fella Maurizio - A conversation with actor Enio Girolami
- Maurizio Merli image gallery
- Trailer - Italian
- Trailer - English
- Poster (folded) - limited edition only
- High-quality slipcase w/ artwork by Haunt Love - limited edition only


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[photo courtesy of CAULDRON FILMS/MVD ENTERTAINMENT]