18th Jun2015

‘Milano Calibro 9’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Gastone Moschin, Mario Adorf, Barbara Bouchet, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Ivo Garrani, Philippe Leroy, Lionel Stander, Mario Novelli, Giuseppe Castellano, Salvatore Arico, Fernando Cerulli | Written and Directed by Fernando Di Leo


One of the things I love about Arrow Video releases is the ability they give me to extend my exposure to movies that are harder to find, especially world cinema releases.  Fernando Di Leo’s Milano Calibro 9 is the latest Italian gangster film to be released by the company and brings on the gritty ultra-violence to the gangster movie.

When Ugo Piazza (Gastone Moschin) is released from jail he looks to lead a straight, the last thing he wants is to return to his life of crime.  This is soon out of the question though when psychopathic hoodlum Rocco (Mario Adorf) informs him his former boss wants to see him.  With $300,000 missing from a previous job all eyes are on Ugo as the culprit.  Ugo is forced into working for his former boss with the aim that sooner or later he’ll slip up and lead them to the missing loot.

When the film begins we are presented with a violent prologue that shows just how the job went wrong and Rocco’s revenge on the people who were meant to pick up the package and deliver it safety.  This level of violence is a hint of things to come, and the film never lets us down in this respect.  After the prologue Ugo becomes the main character and Gastone Moschin plays him for most of the movie as the silent protagonist, never giving anything away to the people on-screen or the audience who are as much in the dark as Rocco and his boss.

The interesting thing about Milano Calibro 9, especially on first viewing is that nothing is given away until the end.  There are hints of people in the background, and this does make us assume that there is a third-party (or even fourth) in the mix who are in fact guilty of the robbery, but we are kept on guessing.  It is the strength of the film, Fernando Di Leo’s direction and Giorgio Scerbanenco’s original novel that this style of slow burning revelation makes sure the end is nor predictable.  This keeps the audience riveted to the screen, until we finally get to the big reveal.

While the character of Ugo Piazza is a hired thug, I found that he is a character easy to like.  We don’t know much about him, we just see a man who is wanting to lead a quiet life now he is out of prison.  This changes through the course of the film as he is dragged back into a life of crime, but there is always that spark of charisma that keeps us on his side.  This may change by the end of the film of course, but he is the most memorable character from the film for all the right reasons.  It is also interesting that respect plays a big part in the interaction between the gangsters and plays a big part in the movie.

As with all Arrow Video releases there are plenty of special features providing us with the ability to look behind the scenes and learn about the makers of the film.  There is no commentary which is a shame but the documentaries do give a nice taste of Italian filmmaking and a look at the actors who worked so well together in the movie.  Even if special features aren’t your thing, the quality of the movie is still a highlight of this release, especially the picture quality.  The 2K restoration from original negatives really makes the film shine.

Arrow Video show a love for their releases that show just how much of a fan they are of cinema.  With this release they introduce many fans of the genre to a classic that should be in their collection.  We may be drowning in gangster movies these days from all parts of the globe, but it is fair to say that classics like Milano Calibro 9 still show how it should be done.

***** 5/5

Milano Calibro 9 is out on dual format DVD and Blu-ray now, from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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