Maurizio Merli is, for me, the face of poliziotteschi, taking on a similar role as Clint Eastwood as a judge, jury and executioner of criminals that lives by his own strict code and must follow it, no matter how much it destroys his life. Whether he’s Commissario Betti in Violent Rome, Violent Naples and Special Cop in Action or Inspector Leonardo Tanzi in The Tough Ones and The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist or out of the badge roles in Mannaja and Highway Racer, Merli comes across as a man of action and principle.
In Convoy Busters, he plays Inspector Olmi, a rough cop who uses brutish methods to discover who killed a young girl with a professional-looking slash to the throat and dumped her in the river. His case leads him to the highest chambers of the corrupt Rome government, which outs him in the crosshairs of those officials, organized crime and the media. An attempt to take him out leads to the death of an innocent bystander, which is enough for the powers that be to send him away to a small fishing town and out of their lives.
Olmi, of course, can’t shut off his need to be a cop and soon discovers that there’s a smuggling operation going down right in his new home. That’s when the real title of this movie — Un Poliziotto Scomodo (An Uncontrolled Cop) — makes more sense, but one assumes that Convoy was a big deal in 1978 and if it got more people to see this movie, then that’s the name in foreign markets.
There’s a great brawl in a bar, a helicopter chase and plenty of great scenery between the two halves of this story, which nearly feel like they give you two films. The beginning, as the girl is taken from the water, feels almost giallo.
Director Stelvio Massi was the cameraman on A Fistful of Dollars and director of photography for The Case of the Bloody Iris, as well as the director of Emergency Squad and Magnum Cop as well as two giallo, Five Women for the Killer and the berserk Arabella the Black Angel. The script was written by Stilvio’s son Danilo (who was also the assistant director), Gino Carpone (Conquest) and Teodoro Corrà (Body Puzzle).
The Cauldron Films blu ray of Convoy Busters features a 2K restoration from the original camera negative with both English and Italian audio options as well as new featurettes like Maurizio Merli: A Lethal Hunter of Subtle Variation with tough-guy film expert Mike Malloy and interviews with Maurizio Matteo Merli and Danilo Massi, who also has a Stelvio Massi video tribute. Archival extras include the alternate Convoy Busters, interviews with journalist Eolo Capacci, Ruggero Deodato, Enzo G Castellari , Maurizio Matteo and Enio Girolami, plus an image gallery, trailer and a poster, all inside a gorgeous slipcase with artwork by Haunt Love. Get it from Cauldron Films.