After brandishing his gun and badge too many times in front of powerful people, Maurizio Merli (Violent Naples and The Cynic, The Rat, and The Fist) is busted down from Homicide to Emergency Squad. Despite his demotion, he is not content with letting Rome’s criminal element run rampant and his violent nature soon finds him the target of both the press and the local mob. After a bloody attempt on his life, he is transferred to a quiet coastal town to run a local department but, never one to leave things alone, he quickly finds a dangerous smuggling ring is using the cover of the sea and darkness to run their operations in his sleepy district.
With it’s daring stunt work, violent shoot-outs, and split storyline, featuring a Stelvio Cipriani (Colt 38 Special Squad) score with excellent performances from Olga Karlatos (Zombie, Purple Rain) Massimo Serato (Autopsy, Don’t Look Now) and Italian cinema stalwart Mimmo Palmara (Violent Rome, Sicilian Connection) Convoy Busters ranks highly among the 70s Italian Crime Genre.
Cauldron Films presents Stelvio Massi’s (Emergency Squad, The Last Round) high octane poliziotteschi Convoy Busters (A.K.A. Un poliziotto scomodo) on Blu-ray featuring a 2K restoration from the negative with both English and Italian audio.
For thoughts on Convoy Busters, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic:
Convoy Busters arrives on Blu-Ray thanks to Cauldron Films with a fairly solid 1080p master sourced from a 2K restoration of the original negative. The past few years have seen an uptick in the number of Italian crime thrillers unearthed for a new generation, and this one fits squarely in the middle in terms of the typical quality. While there appears to have been some limitations with the source elements, Cauldron Films has come through with a fine presentation. The gritty photography retains the natural grain which resolves well despite being quite thick in places. There are moments that spike even further when it comes to darker moments, but these instances do not last too long. Contrast is firmly defined, and there is not much in the way of print damage to be found outside a few stray moments of subtle nicks and scratches.
Where the transfer comes up slightly short is in the realm of fine detail. There is a semblance of texture within the clothing and production design, but it is not as crisp as some films we have seen from this era. Close-up shots hold up better than the rather unfocused long shots and brief optical shots. Black levels are decent enough with no major evidence of black crush or compression artifacts. Some very minor color temperature fluctuations give certain darker scenes a more milky appearance, but, for the most part, this is not an issue. Cauldron Films has done a good job with this transfer.
Convoy Busters comes with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mono track in the original Italian with an additional English language option for those who do not care for subtitles. While we always advocate sticking with the original intended audio for creative purity, we can also say the Italian track is much more sonically pleasing than the less appealing English dub. The Italian track represents this crime-riddled narrative in a faithful manner. The film appears to have its dialogue post-looped which results in some loose sync instances that may be annoying to those unfamiliar with the conventions, but it is a product of this period in filmmaking.
Ambient details are plentiful from the blaring of boat horns to the chatter of restaurant patrons. Everything in the mix seems balanced and accurately rendered so that nothing ever feels artificial. Dialogue comes through clearly without being impacted by the sound effects or score. This one is not as action-forward as some entries in the genre, but when things get active the material remains clear and distinct. The music brings an energy to the proceedings that is represented capably in the mix. The track maintains excellent fidelity with only the occasional instance of sound presenting as a bit thin or boxy. This presentation is largely free of any hiss or other age-related wear-and-tear. Cauldron Films has provided a sturdy track for this one.
- Audio Commentary: Film historians Mike Malloy & Mike Martinez provide a very enlightening commentary track in which they discuss where this fits in the history of Italian crime cinema, the attitudes of the genre of the time, the relative scarcity of the feature in America, the background of the performers and much more.
- My Father, The Cop – Interview with Maurizio Matteo Merli A nearly 21-minute interview with the son of actor Maurizio Merli in which he discusses the importance his father had on Italian cinema, his own relationship with his father’s work, the ways in which his father inhabited his characters, his father’s legacy and more.
- The Massi Touch – Interview with Danilo Massi: A nearly 25-minute interview with the son of director Stelvio Massi in which he discusses the importance his father had on Italian cinema, working with his father, the hands-on nature of his father’s shooting style, his father’s legacy and more.
- Stelvio Massi Video Tribute by Danilo Massi: A nearly nine-minute video created to honor the memory of the late director Stelvio Massi.
- Maurizio Merli – A Lethal Hunter of Subtle Variation with Mike Malloy: A 29-minute piece with the “Tough Guy Film Expert” in which he discusses the career of Maurizio Merli and the ways in which he pushed outside of his solidified persona to take on more challenging roles.
- Stelvio Massi Image Gallery: A six-minute exclusive collection of on-set photos from the career of the director.
- Archival Interview with Journalist Eolo Capacci: A 16-minute interview with Capacci in which he discusses his friendship with Maurizio Merli, his place in Italian cinema, his death and more.
- Archival Interview with Director Ruggero Deodato: A nearly seven-minute interview with the director in which he shares memories of Maurizio Merli.
- Archival Interview with Director Enzo G. Castellari: A nearly 23-minute interview with the director in which he shares memories of Maurizio Merli.
- Archival Interview with Maurizio Matteo Merli: A nearly 21-minute interview with the actor shares his memories of his father, his career, his place in Italian cinema, shooting stunts and more.
- Archival Interview with Actor Enio Girolami: A 16-minute interview with the actor in which he shares memories of Maurizio Merli.
- Alternate English Opening Credit Sequence: A minute-long option to watch the credit in English.
- Theatrical Trailer: There is a trailer in English (4:01) and Italian (3:50) provided here.
- Image Gallery: An option to look through some marketing material, behind the scene photos and more.
Convoy Busters is a perfectly serviceable entry into the Italian crime genre which never fails to entertain, but also does not break down conventions in any significant way. The set pieces are fun and the performances get the job done, especially from the charismatic Maurizio Merli. Cauldron Films has a Blu-Ray with an acceptable A/V presentation and a cavalcade of special features. If you are a fan of poliziotteschi films, this is another good addition to your collection. Recommended
Convoy Busters is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Cauldron Films has supplied a copy of this set free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.