Home Video Hovel: Stunt Squad, by David Bax
Raro Video is a company with a commendable dedication to putting out high quality Blu-rays of cult rarities. Some of these are arthouse gems. Some of them are Euro-exploitation grindhouse fare. Some of them are both (like this past summer’s release of Michelangelo Antonioni’s sharp, provocative I Vinti). Most all of them are damned cool, in one way or another. But Domenico Paolella’s Stunt Squad is the rare misfire, exhibiting copious, lurid violence but with a desperate paucity of style.
To the extent that it makes sense, the story is about a specialized and highly trained squad of policemen, led by Marcel Bozzuffi’s blue-collar captain Grifi, given free rein to track down and apprehend a psychopathic and dangerous criminal mastermind named Valli (Vitorio Mezzogiorno). There’s no real police work on display, though. At one point, these supercops don’t even realize Valli has turned against his own cohorts until they read about it in the paper. They go from not being able to get anyone to pin the crimes on Valli to apparently acquiring an invisible, magical arrest warrent that sends him on the run. Valli then becomes a notorious fugitive who has captured the attention of the populace but can easily blend into a crowd when necessary. No matter, though. The nonsensical plot is just a rickety structure on which to hang motorcycle chases and nasty spurts of violence.
True to form, though, Raro has provided an expert audio and video presentation. Gun shots and tire squeals leap from the speakers, accompanying slow motion squib explosions of deep red. I doubt, however, that, Raro will take credit for the poor subtitle translation. At one point, a cop complains that they can’t arrest Valli because they are “never getting enough proofs.”
Stunt Squad’s chief problem is that its sadism seems to be an end in itself. Paolella relishes every opportunity to show innocent bystanders as bloody victims of Valli’s handiwork. Little old ladies get blown up and hapless drivers get crushed when their cars are flipped off the road. And it’s not as if this is all an attempt to make Valli more despicable. With his shiny blonde hair and crisp white jacket, he’s by far the coolest guy in the movie. And at least he doesn’t throw around homophobic slurs like the cops do.
It’s not that there isn’t a market for this kind of movie. It’s that there are plenty of them better than Stunt Squad.
Extras include the theatrical trailer and a video introduction by Mike Malloy.