Thursday, May 31, 2012

Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man


 (Uomini si nasce poliziotti si muore / Ruggero Deodato / 1976)

One of the few moments of repose within this universe of ultra-violence (goons vomiting blood, mostly) shows two macho buddy cops trying to convince a police secretary to have sex with them (one after the other). As a sexually liberated feminist, she will only sleep with both at the same time, which sends the cops reeling into fits of homophobia. What’s peculiar about this sequence is that Ruggero Deodato approaches it with the same amoral distance that he does the violence, without exception. While the cops flirtatiously air their contempt for ‘women’s issues’—with the obligatory remarks about feminists needing a good dicking—the film never sides with their misogyny. While the film still revels at times in the degradation of female victims, its surprisingly more complicated than garden variety machismo action flicks—even while functioning as a cinematic open sewer. Even the central sex scene, which is mostly Euro-sleaze breast admiration, finds ways to expose the cops as incapable of living up to their own chauvinist delusions of being everything women desire.

Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is all lean and no fat. The opening motorcycle chase (rendered in three movements) is the crowning piece and purely visceral with absolutely nothing underneath the surface (except what we may interpret). Perhaps its the pace, or the way the disjointed episodes are strung together that makes it all work. When the film enters a new sequence we're there for the long haul, until everything absolutely necessary has been extracted, meaning both plot points and the real purpose of it all: swift and crude action.