Junesploitation 2021: Special Cop in Action (1976)

June 27: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is cops.

I am a conundrum. I speak up against the brutality and the militarization of our police nearly every day, but then the movies I choose to relax and watch are poliziottesco films in which cops go against the system and act nearly as bad — if not worse — than the criminals they are after.

The third film in the Commissioner Betti trilogy — after Violent Rome and Violent Naples — Special Cop In Action is also known in Italy as Italia a mano armata (Italy at Gunpoint). This was directed by Marino Giorlami, who went from being a physical therapist to the director of films such as The Fury of Achilles and Zombie Holocaust. He’s also the father of director Enzo G. Castellari.

The mobsters in this film are the kind of Italian movie bad guys that go from realistic to super villains by the end of the film, moving from robbing banks and taking hostages to hijacking school buses filled with children.

Cops Betti (Maurizio Merli, Highway Racer) and Ferrari (Aldo Barberito) are trying to find one of those kids when one of the criminals assaults a female cyclist, altering authorities to their hiding place. When one of the kids is killed, a mother unloads on Betti, who decides to take the place of the children as a hostage. Man, Betti gets abused throughout this movie, shot multiple times, beaten and dumped on a highway and even set up for murder.

Man, this movie starts off hot and never slows down. Cops get dragged behind cars, John Saxon shows up, there’s a J&B appearance and a downbeat ending — the dead kid’s mom and our hero have dinner when some syndicate thugs blow him away in a drive-by. I’d say that that was a massive spoiler, but that ending doesn’t appear in every print, so who knows if they added it in the hopes they could make a fourth film someday. Or perhaps when they realized this was the end, they remembered it was the 70s and nearly every movie has to end with a downer, so they edited on this closing.

Honestly, I kind of think that Betti can shrug off getting gunned down. If anything, the excessive abuse he endures in this movie is proof.

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