Newest Reviews
Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, The
Satanic Panic
Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Non-Stop New York
Newest Articles
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
  Street Law Clean up crimeBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Stars: Franco Nero, Giancarlo Prete, Barbara Bach, Renzo Palmer, Nazzareno Zamperla, Massimo Vanni, Romano Puppo, Renata Zamengo, Franco Borelli, Mauro Vestri, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Adriana Facchetti
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mild-mannered engineer Carlo Antonelli (Franco Nero) stumbles into the middle of a bank robbery where three violent criminals shoot up the place and take him hostage. A white-knuckle car chase ensues, after which Carlo is left badly beaten and traumatised. Humiliated by the indifferent cops, who snidely remark he “got off easy”, Carlo resolves avenge himself, although his girlfriend Barbara (future Bond girl and Mrs. Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach) is dead against him turning vigilante. Through painstaking detective work Carlo lures the perpetrators and their criminal bosses into a trap, but someone in the police department tips them off. Going back to square one, Carlo blackmails small-time hoodlum Tommy (Giancarlo Prete) into leading him deeper into the underworld, but bringing the criminals to justice proves more difficult than he could have ever imagined.

Released around the same time as Death Wish (1974), Street Law, somewhat rarely for an Italian exploitation thriller, was not inspired by the Hollywood hit but shares the ideas that fuelled it. In the Seventies, in the wake of the international oil crisis, the collapse of the Italian economy sparked a rise in violent crime. Whether victimised by petty thugs or targeted by international terrorists, the citizens of Rome felt their city was not safe anymore, a situation compounded by political corruption and bureaucratic incompetence. These events reached their apotheosis with the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II after which politicians seemingly realised la dolce vita had turned very sour indeed and finally sought a positive change.

Action auteur Enzo G. Castellari deftly illustrates the public perception of this grim state of affairs circa 1974 with a masterful montage of break-ins, muggings and murders set to a funky prog rock score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis. Just don’t pay too close attention to those garbled English lyrics: “Traffic is like sweat on a dinosaur…” Come again? For Carlo, whose father died protesting the fascist movement decades ago, the situation is only the latest manifestation of a cycle of terror plaguing the Italian people. He firmly believes ordinary citizens should rebel against the status quo: “It’s a question of self-respect. The way to conquer fear is to do what you are afraid of.” However, Barbara articulates the anxiety of the common man: “Better to live like a coward than get killed.”

Striking a fair balance between liberal and right wing points of view, this bleak and bitter film spreads the blame evenly, an approach underlined by the presentation of its hero not as a two-fisted vigilante in the Charles Bronson mould, but a flawed, all too vulnerable man prone to many mistakes. Carlo’s attempts at detective work often end in humiliation and he frequently finds himself at the mercy of the resourceful and brutal criminals. While disheartening at times, this more humanistic presentation highlights rare moments of ingenuity, as when Carlo fakes his own kidnapping and plants fake tape recordings implying the cops were colluding with the criminals, thus spurring the police into action. After an exciting start, the plot meanders in parts, growing increasingly convoluted while some of the macho male bonding is melodramatic to excess. The film works at its best when it sticks to the essentials. Castellari could stage an exciting action sequence as brilliantly as Sam Peckinpah. His razor sharp editing and artful use of slow-motion complements the helter-skelter of shootouts and car chases executed by the daredevil stunt team, culminating in an incredibly tense showdown with Carlo and Tommy caught in the crossfire between three vicious killers. Leading man Franco Nero ably conveys layers of rage and sorrow with those piercing blue eyes.

Interestingly, William Lustig credited this film with inspiring his cult thriller, Vigilante (1983), making it ironic that Street Law was released on American video as Vigilante II!

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1612 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: