Friday, February 18, 2011
Hands of Steel (1986)
Hey, I think what we have here - Sergio Martino's Hands of Steel - a slightly misunderstood action flick which is way more interesting and multi-layered than it first seem. I understand it's made for a quick buck to make a quick and nothing else, but the fact is that it works way better than it should. This is because of several reasons: Sergio Martino's excellent direction, especially in the action scenes which all are great. The second reason is Daniel Green, who's a way more competent hero than I remember from the last time I saw it (which was at least ten-fifteen years ago, on a Swedish x-rental). What makes this movie so special? It's a unique, for it's time, take on the future - especially in the Italian genre cinema.
Daniel Greene is Paco Queruak, a brainwashed assassin who without knowing it is sent out to kill the leader of the resistance, a blind man in a wheelchair. When he arrives to the scene he fails to kill the man and escapes the scene and goes for the desert. Soon he stops at motel and befriends Linda (Janet Ågren), and love appears. But of course, the government is after him and has sent out it's best killers to track him down and destroy him once for all. But what they don't expect is that he's way more human than 70 percent of cybernetic implants he consists of, and he's ready to fight for the humanity!
What strikes the viewers the most is how "realistic" this movie it is. Sure, it has its fair share of cheesiness (like some futuristic modifications on the cars, some weapons and so on), but the reality feels like it could happen and some of the politics has obviously become reality since 1986. We live in a society where poverty is the ultimate punishment for not doing what our politicians says, exactly like in this movie. Another thing that's interesting is how Paco is portrayed. He's a ex-human, with most of his body replaces - against his will - with technology. He's used as a cleaner for the government and suddenly finds himself torn between his robotic persona and his human self. Yes, much of this is used exactly same way in Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop that came one year efter, except there he's a police and a "legal" killer for the state.
But of course, Hands of Steel is mostly a action-packed popcorn-movie which, if you have some patience, delivers a show-stopping second half filled with lots of action, a quite body count and some great stunts. The attack on the motel has echoes of Sam Peckinpah (one of the characters is named "Dr Peckinpah" by the way) with mighty fine shoot-outs and rough violence. The following chase afterwards, with a car and a truck is really cool and ends with the camera-operator literary throwing himself out if the way to not get hit by a car-stunt! And I love that they kept the take, which added even more to the realistic tone of the action.
One of the best parts of the movie is a sidestory about arm-wrestling, where the fantastic Luigi Montefiori plays Raoul, a brutal truckdriver who want to beat the crap out of our hero Paco. There's a fantastic scene where Paco breaks of a piece of thick marble, writes a message on it and throws it to Raoul and his henchmen, which must be one of the coolest scenes I've seen. The other actors is fine too, and a special mention goes to Claudio Cassinelli who made his last movie here. He died in a helicopter accident during the shooting of this movie, which feels even more eerie when you see him doing so many helicopter-scenes here. Rest in peace, amigo.
Hands of Steel is finally out on DVD, I guess for the first time ever (and I don't count any bootlegs here). The print that Njuta Films just is clear and free from dust and scratches, is non-anamorphic widescreen and didn't suffer from being zoomed into on my 40 inch Bravia widescreen TV. There's a written interview with Sergio Martino which is good, but I would have liked to read some more about specific movies - for example Hands of Steel - but it's still good. This DVD also sports the same weird collection of sexploitation trailers like Ironmaster, which I just find very odd.
A long lost Italian action classic is finally home where it belongs, on DVD for us all to love it and celebrate the brutal fists of Daniel Greene!