Kidnapped/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Kidnapped
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To begin with, this film never saw the light of day due to legal entanglements. Which is such a shame because there's no doubt in my mind that this would have been a massive Grindhouse/Drive-In sensation. But better late than never to view a lost classic.

The film starts with a robbery at a pharmaceutical company. The four robbers succeed in getting away with the score, but do so in a ruthless manner, leaving a dead body in the process. The authorities return fire at the escaping bandits and manage to critically wound the "Ace" of the gang. In a desperate attempt to exchange cars in a indoor lot, the robbers force the cops to back off with the overtaking of two female hostages. But the most explosive robber of the gang does something that revolts both the cops and the other robbers by killing one of the victims with a strike to her throat, courtesy of his blade. Though it appears that the killing was accidental, the cops get the message and retreat in fear of the other victim being killed. Now making their second escape attempt, the robbers carjack a middle-aged man named Riccardo (Riccardo Cucciolla) who has a sedated child in the front seat. The man tells the robbers that he is on his way to the hospital and that his son's life is in danger if he doesn't recieve surgery soon. The lead robber, Doc (Maurice Poli) gives Riccardo his word that he will be allowed to go to the hospital once he drives the gang to their specific destination. The only thing is that this drive will take hours upon hours. Every minute will be costly. Every minute will be life-draining.

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The last time I saw a Poliziotteschi flick that opened with such extreme fury like this was Sergio Martino's The Violent Professionals. But sadly, the rest of the movie could never match with that thrilling opening sequence. So I was dreading the same thing could happen to this one. But all I can say is god bless you, Mario Bava. Even though you apparently never had the chance to view the final product, I want to say that I didn't recieve just a modestly cool crime film from you, I recieved a truly intense and fantastic piece of work. What the film does so well is to create a constant state of relentless pressure. Even in the alternate cut (known as Kidnapped) which has standard inserted-scenes of the cops trying to locate the robbers during this "Real Time" event, the threat of both the cops of apprehending the robbers and the threat of the robbers killing their innocent victims is ALWAYS felt in the air. The tension is so thick in the claustrophobic atmosphere of this car ride from hell that anything can happen at any moment--which it sometimes does. And speaking of claustrophobia, even the scene when the female victim (Lea Lander) manages to flee from the car in the rural countryside of Italy, there is still no escape from her deadly abductors. These certain robbers include the macho, oversexed robber nicknamed "Thirtytwo" (Luigi Montefiori) and the hot-headed, knife-waving Bisturi (Don Backy) and once these two catch their escaped victim, a scene uncharacteristic of a Bava film suddenly shows up and shocks the viewer. And the reason why Bava pushed these buttons was because he was looking to re-invent himself. Gone were the flashy, art/set designs of his gothic classics. Now he was in new territory filming a suspenseful crime classic in guerilla fashion. You could say that he was experimenting the way Roger Corman did after Corman chose to break free from sound-stage shooting. I can't recall Corman ever hitting one out of the ballpark the way this one does. As if I couldn't praise this film enough, along comes the final freeze-frame of the movie which left me absolutely stunned. Rarely does it take me a considerable amount of time to recover from watching a movie, but I was amazed at just how much a film could blow me away. The fact that the erratic distribution of this movie kept it out of the public's view for so long may have been a blessing. The truth is that this film goes way beyond Drive-In/Grindhouse material and is simply too great of a treasure to even classify.

Reviewed by Laydback

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