La Scorta Ricky Tognazzi

In Italy, a judge and his bodyguard have been assassinated. Rising against the underhanded politicians and bureaucrats of Sicily, the judge's replacement, Michele de Francesco (Carlo Cecchi), investigates a scandalous local water monopoly with the help of his team of bodyguards — family man Andrea Corsale (Enrico Lo Verso), loveable putz Fabio (Ricky Memphis), sympathetic loose cannon Mandolesi (Claudio Amendola) and noble Rafaela (Tony Sperandeo). Once the internal dissension over their assignment settles, the men find themselves forming a friendship with de Francesco and put their lives at risk to help him expose the governmental corruption. Ricky Tognazzi's much-praised 1993 police procedural stands the test of time alongside the strongest examples of that crime film subgenre. Like the Hong Kong films of John Woo, it stresses a nobility and honour in its heroes, vehemently protesting the glamorisation of corruption. There is no beauty in La Scorta's gritty atmosphere but, occasionally, a hint of poetry creeps into Alessio Gelsini's glorious award-winning cinematography (in a far-away pan of a metropolitan strip, in a rain-drenched crime scene, etc.). It is to the cast's credit that the weaknesses of the script are overlooked by the emotional immediacy of their performances. The pacing suffers from the tropes of procedural writing — the many conflicts that arise between the officers in the first act are resolved with a quick, unquestioning ease, and the investigation suffers from increasing convolution and conspiratorial paranoia. The film is at its best when the judge's escorts attempt to protect their charge despite threats and intimidation from the offended parties. The DVD includes audio commentary with Tognazzi and producer Claudio Bonivento, and a 28-minute, interview-based featurette with Tognazzi, Bonivento, Amendola, and Gelsini, amongst others. The real attraction is the crisp transfer, which reveals grit rarely found in contemporary crime films. (Blue Underground)