La Mala Ordina / Italian Connection (1972)

AKA Hired to Kill, Manhunt in the City, Manhunt in Milan, Manhunt

Director: Fernando Di Leo.
Starring. Mario Adorf, Henry Silva, Woody Strode, Adolfo Celi. Italy. 1h 40m.

After a shipment of drugs vanishes a rather charming Corso (Cyril Cusack) settles down two confidants and describes the mood for them, Dave Catania (Silva) and Frank Webster (Strode) listen patiently while they are given clear instructions to travel to Italy, where they are to act as American as possible in order to gain the attention of their target, both men speak the language fluently and are more than capable of finding the man suspected of being responsible for the missing drugs and making him suffer. A beautiful local assistant will be waiting on them hand and foot and aiding their mission but the blundering idiot they are sent after might not be quite a useless as everyone suspects.

Small time pimp and crazy headbutting tough guy Luca Canali (Adorfi), seems pretty low key, not the shifty character you’d expect to accidentally lose such a precious cargo. The film partially opens with him spending a pleasant day with his “girlfriend/bottom bitch”in the park then beating up two douchebags using Tekken 2 tactics.But the magic of this film is that Luca is a family man, his stunning ex and beautiful daughter get all his love and attention, and pretty soon the movie shifts from the two tough guys high tailing and it turns into the “Luca show” while he tries to keep ahead of all the mobsters who are now suddenly hot on his tail and all in his slightly comedic style.

De Leo paints a pretty swinging city, there’s lots of drugs and girls with crazy wigs but the film doesn’t really indulge in this key factor to heavily, it’s all about men being tough. Silva and Strodey’s characters dominate the first act, shedding light on the seedy underground of Italy. They hook up with the attractive , Eva Lalli (Luciana Paluzzi) who gives them their first set of leads, while her character is pretty she doesn’t really do much and acts pretty shocked when bullets start to fly.

With the two hitman in the background chasing girls and beating up small fry, Luca becomes out (anti)hero, we see a man who’s trying to please and protect his ex and adorable daughter, starting up lots of small crooked ventures and striving to prove his innocence. Much of what he does it too little to late as tragedy follows him everywhere and as things become more desperate he really stands out as very strong actor, who ends up doing a lot of footwork. When Silva and Strode return for the penultimate showdown, I’d almost forgotten they were in the movie at all.

Overall it’s quite a captivating movie, with some daredevil scenes, lots of action and a gripping story especially when double crossing ho’s come out to play, for me it’s one of the better Poliziottesco movies of the era. The concept of a black and white hitmen duo might have inspired the more popular pair from Pulp Fiction (1994), although for me this film stands out for it’s charisma and it’s possibly the first film that I saw Henry Silva smile in?

Rating 9/10

RCalibro 9 (1972) , La Mala (1972), Golgo 13 (1983), Il Boss / The Boss (1973),
L – Poliziottesco
5s –Henry Silva, Willie Strode

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3 thoughts on “La Mala Ordina / Italian Connection (1972)”

  1. I bought the box set of Di Leo films and they are terrific! Great review, thanks for shining a light on lesser known gems – you have incredible taste in film of all ages!

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