THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (1977) – The Dungeon Review!

The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist, among other Umberto Lenzi non-horror titles has been on my to see list for quite a while. Apparently the film is a sequel to Rome Armed to the Teeth, which I have not seen, but I sure the hell will be making a priority now! I like a lot of Lenzi’s 70s stuff so I was pretty psyched about this Eurocrime entry. The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist is an ass-kicking, fast-paced, action-packed crime thriller full of macho male bravado; 70s style! There is a crazy amount of beatings in this film! There are beatings and then more beatings. There is some shootings and torture too! Three brutal dudes each with their own unique modus operandi; and the cop character is the one called “The Fist“! The Cynic, the Rat and The Fist is one of the most entertaining Eurocrime flicks I’ve seen yet!

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Detective Leonardo Tanzi is on sabbatical when Luigi “The Chinaman” Maietto escapes from prison. It was Tanzi’s testimony that landed “The Chinaman” in the slammer. Maietto is not out of prison long before Tanzi is shot. Tanzi was hit in the shoulder but the police tell the media that Tanzi died from his gun wound. Tanzi intends on going undercover and unleashing his own special kind of justice.

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Detective Leonardo Tanzi is retired or on vacation or something, I am not sure it is ever quite explained. In any case, Tanzi is still involved with the police department. His superior suggests he leave town for a while until things “cool down“. Of course Tanzi has no intention of leaving town. Needless to say, he is making all kinds of trouble and beating the snot out of guys right, left and center. He is a cop that is more than happy to bend the rules! There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Leonardo Tanzi represents “The Fist” in this story. He pummels a record amount of guys! Luigi “The Chinaman” Maietto is a small time crook but he is looking to get in on the big deal. He has a reputation for being efficient, brutal and not ratting out his cohorts. “The Chinaman” gets a visit from big crime boss Frank Di Maggio and the two make a deal. Strength in numbers man! It is hard to say whether or not Maietto is “The Rat” or “The Cynic“. I am going with “The Cynic” for this guy; he was definitely cynical (but he is also a bit of a rat). Finally we have Frank Di Maggio who has the least amount of screen time of the trio. Too bad, this guy is a treat! He has a penchant for torture and letting his two big dogs maul his victims to death! Three strong personalities made for some compelling and entertaining viewing!

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Leonardo Tanzi is sweetly 70s with his classic stache, the poses, and the rocking ensembles. Maurizio Merli plays the cop with a serious grudge to the tee. Luigi “The Chinaman” Maietto made me laugh often with his smart-ass come backs but does he really have enough clout to take over Rome’s criminal underworld? Tomas Milian is perfect as the cynical and fearless criminal, I always enjoy Milian’s nasty characters and here he steals every scene he is in! I would have liked to have seen more Frank Di Maggio. As mentioned previously, Di Maggio does not get much screen time really. He is a consummate professional and only mildly psychotic; I am not at all convinced that he was a bigger rat than “The Chinaman” but cynicism wasn’t really his thing, so I have to give him “The Rat” moniker. John Saxon is as great as ever and completely convinces as Di Maggio! Umberto Lenzi does a nice job with the photography and the copious fight scenes are all pretty well choreographed as far as I was concerned. It has a bullet pace and a ridiculous amount of action sequences. The violence is not overly graphic but there is an absolute shitload of it! Kicking, punching, slapping, shooting, leg-breaking, maulings; you name it! The language is largely bombastic but that is all part of the fun! The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist also has a great score from Franco Micalizzi that I hope to add to my collection! There is only one scene that overstays its welcome just a little. Tanzi and an elderly surveillance/gadget expert go all James Bond to get into a building to disarm the security system. It wasn’t a bad scene by any means, it just felt a little longer than necessary and the fact it is crammed in between loads of action sequences does not help.

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The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist is an exciting, violent Eurocrime flick with top notch performances, an insane amount of action and a great score. One of my favourite Eurocrime flicks yet!! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Umberto Lenzi

Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Tomas Milian, Renzo Palmer, Gabriella Lepori, Claudio Undari, Bruno Corazzari, Marco Guglielmi, Gabriella Giorgelli, Guido Alberti, Aldo Massasso, Brigitte Petronio, Gianni Musy, Gianfilippo Carcano, Dante Cleri

8 Responses to “THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (1977) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Will have to check this one out. Looking forward to your thoughts on Honeymoon Killers!

    • goregirl Says:

      I am liking the Eurocrime stuff…still loads to discover though. My library has a ton of Criterion stuff and after watching 90s films for two months I was ready to overdose on some 60s/70s films!

  2. I like this subgenre a lot. Lenzi’s “Almost Human” (also with Milian) is among my favorites with Fernando Di Leo’s Milieu Trilogy. Will definitely be tracking this one and “Rome Armed to the Teeth” down. Nice stills, btw.

  3. This sounds great!!

    • goregirl Says:

      If you enjoy a bunch of men shooting and beating the crap out of each other in 70s garb this is your film! Can’t wait to check out more of this Eurocrime stuff!

  4. conradw58 Says:

    “Funtastic” review! I enjoy the 1970’s Italian crime/action films a lot. I believe Umberto Lenzi made around seven films with Thomas Milian. Maurizio Merli made a slew of movies in this genre as well,including the cool Inspector Betti trilogy(the second entry,Violent Naples,is directed by Lenzi,also with John Saxon). In addition to the films David mentioned,Lenzi’s Manhunt(with Henry Silva)and From Corleone to Brooklyn,are just a few more favorites.

    • goregirl Says:

      So many to check out!! Sounds like I need to see a whole bunch of Lenzi non-horror films! After this one, I am willing to try them all!

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