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Old 07-27-2002, 12:00 AM   #1
mutleyhyde
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Violent City (Bronson, Savalas... anyone seen it?)

Picked up an Anchor Bay dvd today of "Violent City", directed by Sergio Sollima, starring Charles Bronson and Telly Savalas.

er, holy shit, nevermind; I just checked the back again and Ennio Morricone did the music. I was gonna ask if anyone had seen it and how it was, but there's no way I'll be taking a vintage genre ultra-violence flick with Morricone back, even if it does suck. Thanks anyway.


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Old 07-27-2002, 05:00 AM   #2
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Damn, that movie did suck! Even Morricone couldn't save it. The dvd has some pretty comprehensive talent bios, but the movie blew. Holy shit it blew. I'm embarassed I posted about it. Ultra-violent? Sheesh, hardly at all. Oh, there is a commentary with the director, but I'm not sure I wanna hear it. Hearing the director who was responsible for this might make me go postal. I gotta go watch something good now, probably The Exorcist. Damn. No more impulse buying!
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Old 07-27-2002, 08:32 PM   #3
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Thumbs up

Hyde, why didn't you like it ?. I love that movie, always have and always will, but I also happen to be a big Bronson fan . AB's disc kicks major butt if you ask me, the movie has never looked so good before. I thought the action scenes were pretty good, and Savalas is always a treat even if he's hardly in it. Yes, the title is a little misleading perhaps ('70s titles often are, I find) but don't let that encourage you from checking out other Charlie flicks in the future. Hopefully AB have other rare Bronson titles planned for restoration, like "Honor Among Thieves" (aka "Farewell, Friend") and "Someone Behind The Door". Nobody, and I do mean nobody, has a cooler walk than Bronson - he is da man !.
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Old 07-28-2002, 04:16 AM   #4
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Talking I was expecting Peckinpah, but I got a Harlequinn Romance written by a Puzo wannabe

Oh man, Yowie, you're gonna make me defend my position? Oy! This is gonna hurt. I had filed that experience away in a deep dark corner of my mind that I just don't use already, and now you want me to drag it back out again... oooookaayyyy.

Well, let me start right off by saying that I'm glad at least someone loves the movie; at least now I don't feel like a complete sucker. If there actually is an audience out there for this, then no one was pulling the wool over my eyes.

I found the structure to be very odd in this film. It starts fast, flatlines for a long time, barely picks up at least in the plot area when we start getting an idea of just what's going on, we then get a bit of action here and there interspliced with a few flashbacks and some attempts at suspense building, a few false finales, or I guess, what I was hoping were finales, and then the finale.

Spoiler:
As the film begins, we hit the ground running with a car chase that we have absolutely no back story for. In some films, hitting it full stride like this can work, but here, for me, it didn't. Two reasons; it wasn't that great of a car chase, and, as we had no backstory where we could give a damn about any of the characters, it went on far too long. At the beginning like this, we don't know who is who, and why they're being chased or doing the chasing. Again, I do see how the technique could work, but it just didn't here.

So after the chase, we get a big climax, and then poof, we're dead in the water in prison. We've got some very dramatic overacting here, and some pretty silly bravado that, as shot, just doesn't work for me. Again, the idea looks like it could work, if it were directed and shot well. Here it was just too "flat" (Bronson) and staged (the old guy). There is a lot of itallian language dialogue in this scene, which means that a lot of it didn't make it into American release prints... that was probably a good thing.

At one point, Charlie starts reminiscing about his love interest, and boy, when we see Charlie nearly naked, bounding through the forest like Tigger with innocent boyhood glee after his "Easy Listening Hits of the '70s" love-goddess, all soft-filtered no less, I about lost it. "Where the fuck is Chuck?!" I screamed in my head. "Okay" I thought, "okay, so this is gonna be a love story." I said. "Well, it's a '70s Itallian gangster love story with Bronson, so at least there'll be a lot of tits and ass." I consoled myself. ERRRR!!! WRONG! We don't even get that. They make a big deal on the packaging that this is an uncut version, but what they don't tell you is that the extra minutes entail mostly filler dialogue, extended action and suspense sequenses, racecar drivers standing around scratching their nads, and what have you. Not nudity or any real hardcore violence. At one point, we do catch a glimpse of Charlie's broad's orbs (very nice ones, by the way ) as he's attempting to violently rape her in some dock warehouse, but some thugs come by and beat up this other punk, totally having nothing to do with Bronson and his babe. What happens? Charlies broad makes some snide comments about the existence of violence and Charlie's frequent proximity to said violence - and all of a sudden, poof like that, Charlie's a gentleman again. What the fuck??

Savalas' scenes were fine, as he does rule. He's actually given enough screen time and presence to make his dialogue count. I think this is the problem I have with Bronson in this film. Believe me, I think Bronson rocks, but I think he was wasted on this film, as he just wasn't the badass that he can be, and that right there is directing. He wasn't shot well, and he didn't have a lot to say , or really do for that matter. I can just hear the director going "okay Chuck, walk over there... annnnd - CUT!" It's such a subpar performance - there is no weight, no intensity - except maybe when he's roughhousing his woman.

I think it was badly written, as I just could not care at all for any of the characters. That would be fine if the action made up for it, but I found the action to be too little and too innefectual. There are some good impact moments (gunshot wounds, etc.), but in the hands of a better director, these moments could have been accompanied by substance. I'm finding this kind of hard to explain; try imagining Peckinpah, Leone, or Woo directing this film... they would do a bit more than just "BANG! You're dead!" sequences. They would make it more dramatic, more, impacting. But then I guess an argument can be made for realism here. Okay, I'm good with realism, but before quick cutting to the next talky segment or "back when we we innocent" flashback, at least show us some blood running out of a headwound, or some schmuck's deathrattle. The final scene finally does this, and is exceptionally well done. It's very Argento-esque, even Hitchcockian, with the silence, the single, repetitive sound effect, and the close-ups on desperation... THIS is what I wanted all along! Some weight and umph to the violence.


So anyway, I think I've rattled on long enough. These of course are just first impressions, and the movie wasn't fully devoid of any worth in my eyes. Like I said before, Ennio Morricone provides the score, although it isn't extremely inspired; (rather surprising, coming from this era of his work). Also, Telly Savalas, probably the best parts of the movie, provides some much needed life with his trademark personality. And then there is the truly classic finale killings. But, as I see it, that's about it. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but I thought Bronsan was more of a badass than he is in this, and I thought he'd have a few one-liners, but we didn't even get that.

Maybe had I gone in expecting a "professional-killer-meets-girl, girl-falls-in-love-with-professional-killer" type story, my reaction would have been different, but as the movie is marketed, I was let down.

And you're absolutely right Yowie, the dvd is a fine dvd. The image is great, and the extras are damn good for such a niche genre film. Kudos to Anchor Bay for that.
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Old 07-28-2002, 03:08 PM   #5
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Watch it again!

I was left a little disappointed after my first viewing, but on a second watch I was very impressed. As for the Morricone score it was fantastic, as was Charles Bronson - which makes a change - and who can forget scene stealing Telly Savalas - wonderful. Also a great DVD from Anchor Bay along with BEAST WITH A GUN and HITCH-HIKE.
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Old 07-28-2002, 05:55 PM   #6
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Violent city

I liked it even when it was tv as The Family many moons ago!
beast with a gun! great also! give it another chance Hyde
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Old 07-28-2002, 08:19 PM   #7
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Glad to hear you liked it, Hyde . No seriously, thanks for that massive resume' post, I can tell you gave it a chance. (-Sorry to rip up old wounds though .) See, the thing I like about Bronson movies is basically Bronson and he's always the same, more or less anyway. He can be in the worst trash (and he's been in his fair share of trash) but it'll still be worth watching, IMHO. This particular movie isn't trash or course, but I'll admit it's certainly no masterpiece either. You're right about the odd structure, I find it a bit messy too, quite often those early '70s Euro genre flicks make little or no sense anyway, they get away with being awkward and illogical, unintentionally no doubt, and it wouldn't work today, but they actually fascinate me because of this - go figure . I think it's a good film, some people even count VC among his best, to me it's average '70s Bronson fare on a par wirh, say, "Mr. Majestyk", and way above some of the sleazy '80s stuff he found himself in. MGM have "The Mechanic" (1972) coming soon, he's also a hitman in that one and it's a much better film too. Can't wait for that one.
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Old 07-29-2002, 02:17 AM   #8
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So Yowie, am I wrong in thinking Bronson had his fair share of one-liners? I mean, I know he's not going to be on par with one-liner king Arnie, but I just thought he used to be slightly more vocal.

And also, is the action in VC representative of the majority of his works? I had always wanted to check out his films, as they were always considered so violent, from the media hype of tv trailers to the obvious censorship of his films on tv, although, I did watch Telefon whenever it would come on . Also, from a very early age, I had a disdain for watching certain movies on tv because I knew they were cut to hell. As I grew older and became master of my domain (had my own place, was old enough to rent R rated movies, and so on) I guess the curiosity sparked by the previews and reputation waned. But it does still linger, which is why I picked up VC so impulsively the other day.

My question now is, what are the classic, hard-hitting Bronsons I should check out? What classic Bronson is available on dvd? When I went back to BB to buy more shit the day after I got VC, they had "The Evil That Men Do" on the shelf, but I didn't want to get burned again, so I left it there. Should I go back for it?
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Old 07-29-2002, 04:44 PM   #9
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I too love the film and have been waiting for sometime for the dvd release bronson is the shit, check it out again
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Old 07-29-2002, 05:17 PM   #10
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Err, I like this a lot too. Saw it when it first came out here and was amazed. Now It's just a good movie but the childhood memories thing lifts it above other films of the same quality. You see, when I first saw it I was 11!
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Old 07-29-2002, 08:49 PM   #11
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Heh, looks like I'm in the minority here... and I'm the only one in that minority.

Well, for all of yas that are telling me to watch it again, that won't happen very soon. I have had movies that I've detested that I've gone back to, in time, and sometimes it takes a few watches, over several years, and then I dig it, but like I say, it's not like I can just jump right back in it. I do think a big problem with VC for me is that I went in with expectations that were not met. This happened to me with both Argento and Fulci, and I dig them now, so you never know.

Until that happens though, I say it still sucks.
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Old 07-29-2002, 10:37 PM   #12
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I'd say VC is pretty representative of Bronson in the '70s, a rather slow movie with some action here and there, and he's just not a very talkative guy so the one-liner thing isn't really Bronson. -Even less coming out of his mouth, that's Bronson !. On or off screen he's the silent type and extremely private and hard for co-stars to get close to. A shy man in private, and not at all like his tough on-screen characters except for the quietness. The lone silent no nonsense persona, that's the way moviegoers knew and loved him. "Death Wish" (directed by Michael Winner) is probably the ultimate Bronson flick and it's out from Paramount, a definite must for '70s action buffs. It features one of his best performances, and an infamous and very graphic rape scene with a young Jeff Goldblum !. (There's also a nasty rape scene in the sequel.) Hopefully the (lesser) DW sequels will follow soon. "The Evil That Men Do" is highly recommended if you're looking for sleazy violence - this movie's got it, like gruesome torture scenes and lots of other brutal deaths. For instance, there's a hilarious scene where Charlie crushes the balls of some Mexican badass with one hand. It's probably the most violent movie he's ever made, so to make up for the lack of violent shit in VC you can safely get this one, I don't think you'll regret it. -And it's directed by the (veteran) director of "The Guns Of Navarone" !. "Hard Times" (directed by Walter Hill) is another of his '70s classics available on DVD, as is "Breakheart Pass" and "Breakout". And of course "The Mechanic". If you like westerns, try the classic "The Magnificent Seven" and the dark Euro western "Chato's Land". The ultra-violence-kliche' that haunted his career is based solely on those (mild, by today's standards) action movies and westerns he made in the '60s and '70s, but as the violence got meaner (in the '80s) I would say producers misused his name and put him in wicked action fare like "Murphy's Law" and the bloody "10 To Midnight" which critically destroyed his reputation. -He's certainly never been known as a great actor, and while these later movies are o.k., they're a far cry from his glory days. All the '80s stuff is out on VHS only, but worth checking out. (Some of them are available on cheap DVDs, like "Assassination", but I wouldn't recommend those, I'd wait for a proper disc release.) I think Bronson fans in general like all his films, but you'll certainly find fans who prefer his more violent '80s output.

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Old 07-29-2002, 11:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
It's probably the most violent movie he's ever made, so to make up for the lack of violent shit in VC you can safely get this one.
Yeah! That's the ticket; The Evil That Men Do should be the one, lol.

Thanks for the suggestions Yowie, I'll definitely reference them for future viewing!

Oh, and of course I already have The Magnificent Seven. That movie rules. It sure would be nice to have Once Upon a Time in the West though.
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Old 07-30-2002, 01:02 AM   #14
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It sure would be nice to have Once Upon a Time in the West though.
hell yeah it would be nice there was a nice US release are a couple italian only discs

there are a couple of Sergio Sollima's films out on spanish dvd:








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Old 07-30-2002, 02:03 AM   #15
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Good finds Pup! I've never seen those, I don't think, but Van Cleef rocks. And dagnabbit, Morricone is all over 'em. You're gonna force me to convert to an all-region dvd hound, aren't you Pup?
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