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August 8, 2012

Movie Review: Young, Violent, Dangerous (aka Librii, Armati, Pericolosi, 1976)

Directed by Romolo Guerrieri

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

A pretty young blonde, Lea (Eleonora Girogi) tells a stern police commissioner (Tomas Milian) that her boyfriend Louie (Max Delys)is planing a gas station heist with his two other friends. While the cops are too quick to write it all off to yet another jealous female, Louie and his friends Joe (Benjamin Lev) and Paul, a.k.a “Blondie (Stefano Patrizi)” follow through with the robbery, leaving three innocent bystanders riddled with bullets. It's only the beginning of their crime and murder spree, as the day grows longer and the boy count soars comfortably into the double digits. Buying weapons from some friendly thugs, the boys rob a supermarket and then gun down their accomplices in cold blood. The blonde joins the trio for the final leg of the journey in an attempt to break through the border into Switzerland. When two gangsters refuse to give them dummy passports, the guys bloodily dispatch them in a bit of vehicular manslaughter. Expressing callous disregard for all who get in the way of their bullets, the good, the bad and the ugly all taste lead and the trio's flight from the law ends with a big bang.

YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS is a good old-fashioned Italian crime thriller that doesn't flag for an instant. According to an interview with director Guerreiri, thoughtfully included on the Raro DVD, the film didn't sit well with movie critics at the time, who were quick to label it a “fascist” wet dream where a merciless lawmen must restore order. The movie did prove to be a real crowd pleaser with audiences, and in the process became that hot commodity, i.e., a violent exploitation actioner with quite a few scathing things to say about life and society and general when it originally played.

For example, all three young men come from well-to-do, respectable families who don't need the money. In one scene, the guys throw their money from a recent robbery to the milling crowd outside an outdoor market. Are these young men lashing out against  the poverty and recession that was rampant in Seventies' Italy? In one throwaway scene, Milian cusses out the boys' parents, saying that it's important to talk to your children. However, the police department is shown to be somewhat lacking in scruples as well. Arriving at the aftermath of a debauched orgy to which the three had previously bought weapons, the police stumble upon naked ladies left tied up and spread-eagle on the furniture, making no gesture whatsoever to free the captives!

It's suggested that there's some “Brokeback Mountain” action going on between Louie and Paul. This barely concealed love affair, to which Lea confronts Louie towards the end of the film is offset by the simian Joe, who is quick to label everyone a “faggot” (at least in the Italian language version of this film. This DVD allows the viewer either Italian and English audio tracks, along with English subtitles). Does repressed homosexuality lead to bank robberies and mass murder? The film doesn't say.

Overall, YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS is a highly entertaining policier that still manages to stun some 35 years later. The Raro DVD includes a bonus ROM of a PDF of a fully illustrated booklet containing a critical analysis of the film.

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