Faceplant has had a rocky start to 2012, what with one of our writers dying and another being framed for murder. Well this week we had to ship beloved, no that’s not the word, bedabbled Tophat has been shipped off to the funny farm for a nice relaxing vacation. I hear the place is so fancy even the walls are padded. But you don’t really care about the comings and goings of three nitwits do you? Your here because you’re jonesing for does of narrative. Well have I got a whopper for you. I’ve tracked down the origin of Dangeresque, and it’s an Italian parody movie from 1976 called Live Like a Cop Die Like a Man. Or, directly translated from Italian the movie is titled Live Like Man Die Like a Cop. Funny thing about romantic languages, you can work out the grammar structure of any of them based on a working knowledge of one of them. Something you’d expect a distributor like CineFear to work out.
For those of you unfamiliar with Dangeresque and his portrayer Strong Bad, start here, then go here, but don’t bother with the Criminal Projective. It’s lacking in 3D and never lived up to the hype. So what does this uncensurable little cartoon have to do with a raunchy movie from the disco era? Well, before we get into that let’s set the scene. What we have here is a rogue cop movie, think Dirty Harry, mixed with 007 personalities and Clockwork Orange level ultraviolence. Through in a few explicit sex scenes with the director’s sister-in-law and your in for a wild ride.
The open credits give us two men casually enjoying a ride on their motorcycle, singular. When they come to rest and the credits fade we see two more bikers scoping out a bank in a manner that draws parallels to Dirty Harry. You know and I know what’s going to happen but the general citizenry are oblivious. They grab a woman’s purse when she comes out of the bank only to discover she’s handcuffed to the satchel. No matter, they take off dragging her behind them til she cracks her head on a lamppost and they bash her face in trying to get the satchel off her arm. Finally our heroes, and I use the term loosely, arrive. One, we’ll call him the Deke, takes off after the robbers who have given up their attempt to beat the poor woman to death while the other, we call him Renaldo, kneels down beside the woman. She’s clearly dead meat so he has little use for her, these guys have no interest in women they can’t bed, instead of offering what little help he can he steals a dirt bike and follows the robbers and his pal. The Dirty Harry feel quickly fades away as a long chase ensues. Though to be fair, it seemed more like a race than a chase.
On several occasions the dynamic duo has ample opportunity to stop the baddies, but they either take an alternate “cooler” route down a flight of steps or simply wait for the baddies to get ahead again so they can watch them crash into a moving van. One guy is killed in the crash instantly, the other lies on the pavement bleeding until Driver snaps his neck. Now, don’t get me wrong these guys clearly deserved what was coming to them, they ran over a blind man’s dog for crying out loud, but snapping an unarmed man’s neck with your bare hands hardly seems like police procedure. Even Dirty Harry gave the bad guy a chance to reach for his gun before blowing him away. Even during the chase Deke and Renaldo were overly reckless. Instead of the baddies driving through crowded sidewalks and causing accidents this dirty duo were the ones driving through the cafe and literally over citizen’s cars. Not ramping over them. Driving over them.
Finally they return to their secret base. Oh yes. These aren’t your run of the mill detectives. Deke and Renaldo are on a secret police force most of the normal cops know nothing about. They’re boss is even Thunderball villain Adolfo Celi. These dangerous men were chosen specifically for their criminal tendencies and given a license to bring the roughest of the rough criminals to justice using any means necessary. This apparently means setting on fire the vehicles belonging to the city’s elite when they stop by an illegal gambling operation, sneaking up on “radical robbers” about to pull a heist and discretely capping ever last one on a busy street in broad daylight, and taking large piles of cash from the mafiosos they’ve just mercilessly slaughtered. Largo tries to reign them in at ever turn but they keep at it until both the police higher-ups and the mafia are sufficiently angered by their ways.
They’re main objective is tracking down Perducci, I mean Pasquini the mafia boss that killed their fellow squad member. Aside from his attempts on their life the closest they ever come to him is when they both sleep with Pasquini’s sex crazed sister. They don’t “interrogate” her simultaneously, but they do sequentially which is almost as bad. There is a weird homosexual vibe throughout the film beginning with their tandem motorcycle rides and their shared apartment. It’s emphasized by the secret squad’s secretary whom the boys desperately pursuit. She’s willing to relent to their advances but only in a menage e trois. The tandem twins awkwardly balk at the suggestion only to miss a similar situation by less than a minute with Pasquini’s sister. They also have an affinity for punching dudes in the crotch during the fight scenes and giving a vigorous tug during interrogations.
Technically the action sequences are sufficiently interesting even if the special effects are lacking. The biggest issue lies in the dubbing. As you know, I’m not one to shy away from foreign films or subtitles so when a non-English film is dubbed I’m generally nonplussed. The biggest exception to this is another set of Italian films, the spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood. Granted dubbing a film with at least one of the original actors voicing himself helps a great deal, but the film over comes the typical dubbing distractions through a massive lack of dialogue and excelling in other areas. Live like a Man Die Like a Cop on the other hand falls into the Asian camp. Many of the character’s voices sound far too similar and no attempt or a very poor attempt was made to sync up the dialogue and the mouths.
Now, when I say this movie is violent, I don’t mean in a Man with the Golden Gun or Godfather Part II way. No, here we don’t get implied violence. We see the woman’s head connect with the lamppost and the bloody aftermath. Sure it’s Monty Python style bright red paint, but it’s there all the same. Combine it with gratuitous female nudity and you have a movie born for the grindhouse circuit. So it should come as no surprise grindhouse buff Quentin Tarantino paid homage to the eye removal scene in Kill Bill.
But what does all this have to do with Strong Bad you ask? Dangeresque shares a number of similarities with the Tandem Twins. He spends more time breaking the law than enforcing it, he loves his cool cool glasses, and he is a crooked cop who is also a secret agent. He shares their affinity for excessive violence and speed and sweet pointless stunts. But most importantly, his nemesis is a sharp dressed Italian whose last name is modestly similar to Pasquini.
As an aside, did I mention the Deke looks strikingly similar to David Tennant? That’s all kinds of weird. Especially in the sex scene.