Last Round (The) AKA Conto Ť Chiuso (Il)
R1 - America - No Shame Films US
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (16th April 2006).
The Film

In 1927 novelist Dashiell Hammett wrote what would become a template for many films in the Hollywood canon. The novel, Red Harvest told the story of a hard boiled detective investigating a murder in a mining town filled with violence, corruption and cover-ups. Often playing both sides to get to the bottom of his case, this popular novel was the inspiration for Akira KurosawaĎs 1961 film Yojimbo which basically follows the same story outline but this time itís a crafty ronin instead of a detective trying to solve a murder, in 1964 Sergio Leone remade Yojimbo as a western with Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, a film that broke Eastwood as a major star. In 1995 Walter Hill made his own version of the story with Bruce Willis in the underrated Last Man Standing. Hammettís book has provided filmgoers with new and fresh approaches each time, and Stelvio MassiĎs 1976 offering is no exception. Massi takes a more contemporary approach to the story setting it in a then present day town. His hero, Marco, (Carlos Monz√≥n) the drifter, wrapped in mystery makes a fantastic entrance when looking for work at a local warehouse. He ends up fighting off a few men from a local gang. Marco is the strong silent type similar to Eastwoodís man with no name character from A Fistful of Dollars. Their personalities are similar and itís easy to see that Massi didnít only just borrow from the story but several character traits from other adaptations done over the years. The gang boss, Rico, (Luc Merenda) is the perfect opposite to Marco. Rico is a handsome, tall, well dressed man with a flare for the psychotic and a passion for handguns. His aim is unmatched and his power is ultimate. Rico sees potential in Marco and eventually begins to work for his gang. Marco, eventually plays two gangs against each other and also finds time to save a woman and her daughter from the villainous Rico.
Massi has created his own film from the ashes laid by the previous however there isnít anything that cries Ďoriginalí throughout this entire piece, However, itís satisfying to see a different, modern version of the tale that is if the 70ís fashions arenít too much to bear for you, youíll get flared out pants and collars galore here. The photography is also a product of itís time, the shots are simply framed and the tone and pallet is entirely naturalistic which gives the film a realistic feel but unfortunately nothing else and is rather uninspiring.
Lead actor Carlos Monz√≥n does a competent job portraying the quiet hero, his presence is imposing and he certainly commands the screen. His performance is subtle in nature, whether he possesses an acute sense for naturalistic performance or heís simply a new actor without much range is something up for debate. His counterpart, Luc Merenda who has a much larger sense for the theatrical. It seems as though Merenda has brought his best soap opera acting to the table. While not the most inspiring of villains, he does add a few unique touches that give the character a memorable quality. His affinity towards guns is one such example and the way in which he handles a weapon.
The Last Round also possesses a score that is written right out the pulp 70ís guidebook for groovy action music. Composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov creates a score that is interesting and totally guided by 70ís sensibility, itís one of those scores that you have to find on CD somewhere purely for the kitsch value alone. It also sets up the tone of the film very well and helps drive the narrative and action onscreen.
The Last Round hasnít aged well at all in terms of its look and feel, the eyesore of 70ís fashion is all over this like - um, a cheap suit! But the filmís story has always been engaging. While parts of the film tend to drag the action and the two leads make for interesting viewing.

Video

Presented in the filmís original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this anamorphic widescreen image is not the most pristine transfer youíll find, but for this particular film I think itís the best itís ever looked. The image is occasionally soft and artefacts and dirt pop up a few times during the course of the film. The colors are natural and well balanced, I could not spot any color bleed, blacks are deep however detail is hard to see on occasion, especially the shadows. Some flaws aside I doubt youíll ever get an edition with a better transfer than this one.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included on this release, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono as well as the original Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. I had a chance to view the film with both tracks. Letís start with the English dub, the dubbing is generally good, however you can easily tell that English not this filmís original language, the track is in terrible shape. Distortion is all over the place, hiss, crackle and noise is predominant throughout. Itís very distracting viewing this film with the English track for that reason alone. The original Italian track is in much better shape, although there are some instances of hiss itís far less prevalent on this track. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear and overall is a far better track than the English.
The film also includes optional subtitles in English, I found the subtitles a little small, however very readable and did not seem to have any spelling or grammatical errors.

Extras

First up we have the Enter the Merenda- On Site Visit to Luc Merenda's Antique Shop in Paris" this featurette runs for 35 minutes 26 seconds. Here we get to see what Merenda has been up to all these years, the talks about his film career and working on The Last Round but mostly he takes us on a tour of his new business, selling antiques in Paris. Fans will find this interview interesting but it could have been cut down into film related moments as the tour of his shop isnít all that interesting.

Next we have a reel of posters and stills, this gallery shows a few of the different poster designs and some photographs taken during production for publicity, the reel runs for 43 seconds.

Following that is the filmís original Italian theatrical trailer which runs for 3 minutes 31 seconds as well as the original English theatrical trailer that runs doe 3 minutes 33 seconds.

An extensive 12-page booklet is also included, and features liner notes on the film and key cast as well as filmographies. The final pages of the booklet are dedicated to the bonus CD included in this set.

The bonus CD is entitled "The Ultimate Eclectic Cinedelic Experience: Funky Cops and Hard Boiled Girls" performed by Entropia. Your get the following tracks on the disc:
1."Black Jack" from SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL (by Luciano Michelini)
2."Drug Addict" from SPECIAL COP IN ACTION (by Franco Micalizzi)
3."La Mala Ordina" from THE ITALIAN CONNECTION (by Armando Trovajoli)
4."Mara's Theme" from FOREVER EMANUELLE (by Franco Micalizzi)
5."Il Libanese" from HIGH CRIME (by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis)
6."Milano Odia: La Polizia Non Puo' Sparare" from ALMOST HUMAN (by Ennio Morricone)
7."La Polizia Ha Le Mani Legate" from KILLER COP (by Stelvio Cipriani)
8."Affanno" from ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON (by Franco Micalizzi)

While the CD is a nice bonus I would have preferred the original recordings of these tracks rather than electonica covers.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: B Audio: B Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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