Roma A Mano Armata, Tomas Milian, Maurizio Merli, Umberto Lenzi

Written by Joe D on August 3rd, 2007

I love this movie! Almost non-stop action, not one but two excellent bank robberies, frenetic car chases, beatings, rapes, shootings, you name it’s got it! But seriously it’s the characters that are the best thing about this movie. Maurizio Merli is one hot head, ass kicking , tough cop! He will slap a punk silly in the blink of an eye, he has the most hair trigger temper you’ve ever seen.

Go ahead punk, make my day

He’s the perfect foil for Tomas Milian. Milian plays an evil, amoral hunchback. He’s a cold blooded killer,but he’s kind of charming in his own repellant way. This is an amazing physical performence! The shambling gait, his obsequious posture when dealing with Merli. He’s like the villan from Dirty Harry and Joe Pesci from GoodFellas rolled into one person. We meet him at his job in a slaughter house! What an intro.

The Butcher Of Rome

He gets arrested and is beaten by Merli during an interrogation, so he slashes his own wrist in the bathroom to get put in a hospital.

After pissing all over the police station bathroom…

His gang kidnap Merli’s girl, take her to a junkyard and threaten to crush her in an old Fiat.

They’re just trying to scare her

Merli retaliates by busting into Milian’s house while he’s having dinner, then forcing him to eat a bullet in front of his horrified sister. This seems to inspire Milian to escalating acts of savagery. He hijacks an ambulance during a chase and when the driver tells him there are passengers in the back Milian slides open the window, shoves his machine gun through and opens fire, killing a guy and his sick wife!


When the ambulance crashes in a crowded market, Milian hops out and begins spraying the crowd with his gun, creating a diversion so he can get away. Man!

Dig that Crazy Scarf
A movie about a cop and a criminal messing with each other, trying to kill or catch the other is only as good as these two characters and here we have one of the greatest duels in history. Lenzi mixes it up by having the good guy (Merli) be so unremittingly violent and having the bad guy (Milian) have a physical handicap, we subconciously root for this poor guy, he’s very capable in spite of his deformity. He dosen’t take shit from anyone, even a killer cop, and he’s successful. He’s a skillful butcher, he drives a cool car, he wears snappy clothes, he has a nice sister.

Coolest Car in Cinema- Le Citroen
A family that cares for him. Merli has no one, no family and his girl friend leaves town to think things out. Merli does have one pal, a fellow detective but of course he sacrafices his life saving Merli’s. The last criminal hunchback I can recall was James Whitmore in Jhon Huston’s immortal classic The Asphalt Jungle.

Lenzi calls in a cameo

The score by Franco Micalizzi is spot on! Super 70’s synth funk Italian Style. I was working on Kill Bill and Quentin says ” Hey Joe, you want to go see some Italian crime films at the Cinematech tonight?” I say yeah, of course! And we saw this gem and The Cynic, The Rat, and The Fist. Cut to last year I’m working on Death Proof, QT puts a cool piece of music under the big car chase when the girls are out to get Kurt Russel. It’s the music from Roma A Mano Armata. QT says, “I’ve been wanting to use that music ever since we went to that screening!” So if you’re in the mood for a crazy ride check out Roma A Mano Armata. Tomas Milian will blow you away!