Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of five): ****
While director Edgar Wright was working on his fake trailer for Grindhouse (2007), and preparing Hot Fuzz (2007), Quentin Tarantino screened a couple of cop films for him: Stuart Rosenberg's The Laughing Policeman (1973) and Ruggero Deodato's Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976).
Of the second film, Wright said it was "the most amazing title, ever, apart from Half Past Dead. "It's probably the most homoerotic cop film I've ever seen. The cops in it share a bedroom. They have bunks, and they're both real lady killers, but the fact that they share a bedroom -- it's like Bert and Ernie from 'Sesame Street.'"
Now this amazing, almost unbelievable movie has been released in a gorgeous new DVD, thanks to Raro Video (which also released Fellini's The Clowns and Antonioni's I Vinti). Seen today, it has the combined effect of being offensive, as well as impressive.
As the film begins, we meet our two cop heroes, dark-haired Alfredo (Marc Porel) and blonde Antonio (Ray Lovelock); were they a deliberate echo of "Starsky & Hutch"? They are members of an elite team, the "special squad," which apparently has total license to murder all suspects and destroy as much property as possible. They ride a motorcycle to work together (with Antonio wrapping his arms around Alfredo).
Things kick off with a motorcycle chase that even the DVD box copy correctly describes as "insane," and apparently shot without permits or permission. The heroes madly chase a couple of muggers/killers through the streets of Rome, not stopping until both of the perpetrators are dead; in one case, one of the bad guys needs a little push in that direction, and our cop is willing to provide it.
The main plot has something to do with a gangster and his informer, and how the cops use the latter to catch the former. But all of this is an excuse for the heroes to set dozens of expensive cars on fire, and try to nail every girl that moves. The fact that the two heroes share an apartment as well as a motorcycle doesn't seem to have much bearing on their extremely active sex lives (they don't mind sharing).
Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is gleefully sexist and violent. As others have pointed out, these loose cannon cops are a bit like Dirty Harry, except for the fact that Harry had a kind of political/idealistic agenda. These guys are just out to have a good time, by shooting people, blowing stuff up, or having sex. Their jobs as cops are kind of beside the point.
The director Deodato is best known for the trash classic Cannibal Holocaust (1980), about a lost documentary crew in the Amazon. A professor finds their footage, brings it back to the city, and watches it, revealing a horrifying display of gruesome behavior. If this director ever had anything more relevant in mind, it's definitely up for interpretation.
Regardless, fans of Tarantino and "grindhouse" action movies absolutely need to see Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man; otherwise, you just won't believe it could actually have been made. Raro's DVD comes with TV commercials shot by Deodato, a documentary on the film, and a liner notes booklet.
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