The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist
Original Title: Il cinico, I’infame, il violento
Directed by: Umberto Lenzi
Distributed by: Alpha Digital
Of all the genre’s that Umberto Lenzi tried his directing skills in, I feel that the Poliziotteschi flicks are among his finest. Obviously there are several brilliant entries of his to be found on the other sphere’s – Cannibal Ferox 1981, Nightmare City 1980, The Oasis of Fear 1971, Seven Bloodstained Orchids 1972 and Eyeball 1975 to name a few, but it’s the Poliziotteschi that I find myself returning to and rediscovering with a new passion that wasn’t there the first time around. The Tomas Milian pieces, like Almost Human 1974, Rome; Armed to the Teeth 1976 and The Rat the Cynic and the Fist, stand out and have against all odds stood up to the tests of time.
Performances are tight, and well acted, Merli is great in this sequel to Lenzi’s previous piece Rome: Armed to the Teeth, which also sees Merli in the role of Inspector Tanzi. But the movie definitely belongs to Tomas Milian in a performance that out shines both Merli and Saxon by yards. He owns this piece with his sneering, sinister criminal who just oozes cynicism towards the law officials, the mob Boss Frank Di Maggio and even towards his once cohorts that he eliminates on his struggle towards the top of the food chain.
Trying his damndest to move in on American mobster Frank Di Maggio’s [Saxon] turf, Maietto is pushing the good old “Protection” racket, which obviously clashes with Di Maggio’s interests and Tanzi’s morale values. Slowly but surely the three opposing parts twist and grind their way through a grid of double crossing, enforcing violence, cunning heists and sadistic actions towards a climax, a climax that comes with a splendid blaze of glory as the three leads finally stand face to face.
What I feel makes this piece quite entertaining is that there are so many rifts and conflicts on both sides of the law. There are the conflicts on the criminal side, Di Maggio vs. the newcomer Maietto, and there’s certain tension between Tanzi and commissioner Astalli, which gives a deeper dimension to both the characters and the narrative. It’s an amazingly entertaining ride which I already said stands out among both the genre and Lenzi’s work.
Along the way there’s some great supporting cast performances by Bruno Corazzari, Claudio Undari, and the man who is almost everything worth watching Fulcio Mingozzi makes yet another short appearance. It’s a pretty male dominated movie, as nearly no women hold any specific role in the plot, other than scared victims for Merli to rescue and save, although Gabriella Lepori does have a bit of importance as she brings the narrative to an important junction, and connects the pornographer’s mischief to the racket Maietto has going.