Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CONTRABAND (1980) - Lucio Fulci

Somewhere in the midst of his winning streak with Zombie and "The Gates of Hell" trilogy, Fulci took a crack at the gangster genre with fair to middlin' results.

As one can guess from the title, Contraband concerns itself with the smuggling side of mob operations in Naples, primarily cigarette smuggling. Later in the film, the prerequisite heroin and cocaine loads one would expect from any Godfather / French Connection rip-off enter the picture. The story is one you've seen a million times: in-fighting and tit-for-tat retribution killings among rival gangs. Only this time it's bloodier with a little more brain matter considering Fulci is at the helm. Amidst all the mob hits, he even manages to squeeze in a very nasty facial cauterization by Bunsen burner during a drug exchange. Stretching the genre? Not really. But give the man points for keeping zombies and witchcraft entirely out of the picture this time.

Overall, Contraband is run of the mill mafia stuff, and leading man Fabio Testi as bland as ever. There is nice sequence where all the old retired capos get together to "clean up the mess" the young Turks have made of their city. It's kind of like The Wild Bunch in miniature among the cobbled back streets of Naples. Guess which old capo makes his cameo firing the most clips?

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