FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP (1976) Reviews and Blu-ray details

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Free Hand for a Tough Cop is a 1976 Italian poliziotteschi crime film about a cop and petty criminal duo trying to rescue a kidnapped girl. Also released as Tough Cop

Directed by Umberto Lenzi (Ghosthouse; Nightmare City; Eaten Alive; Eyeball) from a screenplay co-written with Dardano Sacchetti, based on the latter’s storyline. Produced by Claudio Mancini and Ugo Tucci.

The S.G.M. Films-Variety Film co-production stars Tomas Milian (Destruction Force; The Tough Ones; Silent Action; Almost Human), Claudio Cassinelli (The Great Alligator; Suspicious Death of a Minor; What Have They Done To Your Daughters?), Nicoletta Machiavelli and Henry Silva (Escape from the Bronx; Alligator; Thirst).


When the critically ill daughter of a prominent family is kidnapped by a ruthless band of thugs, Inspector Sarti (Claudio Cassinelli) is forced to bend the rules and oversee the prison break of Sergio ‘Monnezza’ Marazzi (Tomas Milian), a lowlife criminal with deep roots in the underworld.


The unlikely duo team-up in the hopes of retrieving the girl and catching the infamous Brescianelli (Henry Silva), the crime boss behind the kidnapping, before her time runs out…


New Blu-ray release:
In the UK, Fractured Visions is releasing Free Hand for a Tough Cop on Blu-ray on November 29, 2021. Special Features:

HD Presentation in the Original Aspect Ratio
Original Italian Mono Audio with newly translated English subtitles
English Mono Audio
Cops and Robbers: An Interview with Nino Celeste
No Small Roles: An Interview with Corrado Solari
Producing Mayhem: An Interview with Ugo Tucci
Portrait of a Daughter: An Interview with Alessandra Lenzi
Audio Commentary with Eurocrime producer Michael A. Martinez
Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson

Limited Edition Contents (3,000 units)
Collector’s Edition Slipcase
Six Art Cards
Special Collector’s Booklet with new writing by Austin Fisher, Francesco Massaccesi and text interview with Umberto Lenzi by Eugenio Ercolani

“Umberto Lenzi’s film contains everything you’d expect and a good deal more. Amidst the shootouts and car chases, there’s a lively repartee between the two leads. Not to mention a decent plot, which helps make Free Hand for a Tough Cop stand out from the crowd.” Backseat Mafia

“It may be held up by a generic story and a rather preposterous concept (needling criminals for information makes sense, but would you use a bunch of them as your core team?) but Free Hand for a Tough Cop succeeds through excellent pacing, plenty of action and a quirkily charismatic turn from Milian. Great stuff.” Blueprint: Review

“Not too much story here, more a collection of setpieces, but Lenzi keep things going fast en funny. There are quite a few hold-ups and robberies, but it never gets too serious, with Millian basically being a comic relief character, with a terrible wig […] Enjoyable fluff…” The Devil’s Honey


“Garbage Can and his pals mow their way through dozens of deaths in their quest to save one, and that lack of moral balance feels right for the nihilistic mood here. There’s tonnes of gunplay and chases, strangely jocular good humour and a feel-good ending, rare for the genre. Free Hand for a Tough Cop is a smart, aggressive slice of mid-70s action cinema, and should be heartily recommended for genre fans.” Film Authority

Free Hand for a Tough Cop is a puppet show, its genre being the stage, its characters the puppets. But it’s Monnezza who pulls their strings, and it’s Lenzi who pulls Monnezza’s. The film’s self-awareness is its distinguishing factor. The full flavor of the film is captured within its opening minutes. It is equal parts disorienting and engaging.” The Gentlemen’s Blog to Midnite Cinema

“It was Milian’s over-the-top characterisation, in accordance to the actor’s willingness to play with his screen persona and his chameleon-like ability to shape striking new characters, that turned out to be the film’s winning move. A curly wig, shaggy beard, dark eyes, ragged secondhand clothes, Monezza became the Charon that led poliziotteschi from violence into the realm of comedy.” Roberto Curti, Italian Crime Filmography, 1968 – 1980, McFarlane, 2013


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” …a damn fine piece of cinema […] the urban landscape that usually makes up the setting for this sort of film has been thrown out in favour of a more rural one. This sets the film apart from most of the rest genre, and it also gives it a feel that borders on Spaghetti western, which is nice.” The Void

” …random characters are introduced only to be done away with for another hard-hitting set piece. Lenzi […] aims to entertain here, barely touching on the political angles that many poliziotteschi dove into deeper. If it isn’t action on screen, it’s Milian hamming it up with a mouthful of scenery as the smart alec, streetwise Trash Can.” When It Was Cool


Filming locations:
Rome, Lazio, Italy

Technical details:
90 minutes
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

Original title:
Il trucido e lo sbirro “The Murderer and the Cop”

Soundtrack score:

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