Franco Prosperi's 1976 Italo-cop picture Meet Him And Die stars genre stalwart Ray Lovelock as a tough guy named Massimo. When the movie begins, he puts on a ski mask, grabs his pistol and heads into a jewelry store but an alarm goes off and he winds up locked inside. The cops are outside and he knows he's outnumbered and outgunned but he makes a break for it anyway. He gets caught and is promptly tossed into a jail where the inmates all wear street clothes and the guards deem it accessible for the prisoners to drink wine out of glass bottles.
Once he's on the inside, he meets Giulianelli (Martin Balsam), a high ranking mobster who is running things Al Capone style from his posh cell. They become friends fairly quickly and soon enough, Mossimo and Giulianelli bust out of prison. When Giulianelli is shot and Mossimo saves him, the mobster gives the young man a job in his organization. Soon enough, Mossimo is using his new pal to get to Perrone (Ettore Manni). Why? Because he's really an undercover cop and Perrone is the man who paid the two gunmen that shot his dear old mother and left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair. And along the way, hey, maybe he'll have a fling with Perrone's hot secretary (Elke Sommer) for kicks!
This one offers up everything you'd expect from a seventies Italian cop movie. We get the tough hero who has to bend the rule book to get things done, and if that means shooting whoever gets in his way, so be it. We get a pretty blonde who just can't resist our hero, even if she belongs to the bad guy. We get a couple of legitimately bad ass chase sequences and some of that requisite J&B product placement. Throw in a cool score, some squibtastic shoot outs and lots of seventies fashions and yeah, this one stacks up nicely. Where it falls short, really, is in the originality department because it doesn't even try to break any new ground or really show us anything we haven't seen before, but if you think of this as genre comfort food and just go with it, you'll enjoy yourself. Meet Him And Die is a very entertaining film.
Lovelock, who would wind up making quite a name for himself in cop films from this era, is charming and tough as Mossimo. He punches his way through the action scenes, really holding his own in a knock down drag out brawl that takes place between he and a large, burly inmate in the prison. He also does a great job in the chase scenes, doing some (if maybe not all) of his own stunts. The highlight? A fantastic sequence in which he chases a stolen truck down a hillside on a motorcycle. He gets knocked off at one point but gets back on his bike and gives chase, really going at it full tilt and creating an edge of your seat sense of danger and tension here. The supporting players are also good. Balsam doesn't have all that much to do here, his screen time is limited but he does fine in the role. Manni is quite good as the slimy bad guy and Sommer is stunningly gorgeous here (and yes, fellow fans, she does shed her dudes for a love scene with lucky Lovelock).
All of this plays out at a pretty quick pace. There's enough plot here to pull us in, even if we never get to know Mossimo's mother enough to really see her as anything more than an impetus for his revenge. We don't get any background information on our hero cop either, he's not the deepest man to ever wear a badge and a gun. But it works.
Meet Him And Die arrives on Blu-ray from Raro Video framed at 1.76.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This transfer is a mixed bag to say the least. Colors generally look very nice and the image is, with some exceptions, pretty clean. Minor print damage shows up in the form of some small white specks here and there and a singular moment during the truck/motorcycle chase scene where things get a little rough looking. Overall though, the elements used appear to have been in pretty good shape. There is some obvious haloing in spots though, and detail is pretty soft. It looks like some seriously overzealous noise reduction has been applied here, so don't expect the faces of the various characters to have pores. Things look a little fuzzy sometimes in the background too, the ‘grain' tends to have a bit of a wiggle to it which results in some strange shimmering. Black levels look okay and there aren't any major compression issues to note on the 25GB disc, but this has been processed to the point where it isn't as film-like as some are going to have hoped for.
Audio options are provided in Italian and English language DTS-HD Mono tracks with optional subtitles provided in English only. The audio is fine here. Range is limited in spots but the levels are generally balanced well and there aren't any problems with any serious hiss or distortion. The score sounds good and has some good weight behind it. There are a few minor typos in the subtitles but nothing too serious.
The only extra on the disc, aside from menus and chapter selection, is a six and a half minute long interview with Mike Malloy, the man who directed the Eurocrime! documentary. He discusses how and why this particular film is an archetypal entry in the genre, gives some details about Ray Lovelock's career and offers up some thoughts on the film and what makes it work. Malloy also contributes an essay to an insert booklet that touches on many of the same points and elaborates on a few others. The booklet also contains a quick biography and filmography for director Franco Prosperi. Too bad that biography is for the wrong director (Malloy even mentions in his featurette that the Franco Prosperi is NOT the same Franco Prosperi that directed the mondo movies in the sixties and seventies…).
Meet Him And Die isn't the most unique film in the cycle but as Malloy states in the extras, it really is an archetypal entry. It's fast paced, violent and it features a dashing hero often fighting and shooting his way out of trouble to serve the greater good. Lovelock is good here, and the supporting cast pretty solid as well. The Blu-ray from Raro leaves a lot to be desired in the transfer department, however. While it's clean and colorful, it looks way too over-processed and lacking in fine detail. Regardless, fans of the genre will enjoy this and on the strength of the movie more so than the presentation, this comes recommended (just know what you're getting, picture wise).
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.