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Release Date: March 28th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1978

Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection

Overview -

The Poliziotteschi genre – one filled with violent reaction to the sociopolitical upheaval in 1970s Italy – saw a match made in hell when filmmaker Umberto Lenzi and actor Tomas Milian decided to collaborate for a series of hard-hitting actioners that were condemned by Italian film critics and the establishment alike. Five of those collaborative efforts are presented in Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection. Sleazy sex and violence, unhinged Milian performances and so much more are abound in this well-appointed box set that comes with a great set of transfers and newly produced featurettes involving cast and crew. This release comes Recommended!

Italian director Umberto Lenzi had recently completed a landmark string of kinky gialli with Hollywood outcast Carroll Baker. Cuban-born/Actor’s Studio-trained Tomas Milian had become one of Spaghetti Westerns’ most popular stars. But when these two notoriously mercurial talents came together for a series of shocking Poliziotteschi –reactionary crime films that reflected the political and sociocultural violence of 1970s Italy – they grabbed audiences by the throat, gunned down the conventions of the genre and changed the emotional velocity of action cinema forever. This collection presents Lenzi & Milian’s five greatest collaborations, now restored uncut and uncensored from the original negatives for the first time ever. 

Disc 1: ALMOST HUMAN (1974)

Released in Italy under the title MILANO ODIA: LA POLIZIA NON-PUÒ SPARARE (MILAN HATES: THE POLICE CAN’T SHOOT), this first collaboration between director Umberto Lenzi and star Tomas Milian remains both “a degenerate treat” (Mondo Digital) and “definitive Eurocrime” (DVD Talk): When a small-time criminal (a fearless performance by Milian) kidnaps a wealthy industrialist’s daughter, he’ll trigger a depraved spree of class warfare, sexual violence, mass murder and the rage of a police commissioner (Henry Silva) determined to end the carnage. Anita Strindberg (YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM…) and Ray Lovelock (LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN) co-star in “one of the peaks of the genre” (Indiewire) written by Ernesto Gastaldi (ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK) with a classic score by Ennio Morricone, now scanned uncut from the original negative.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
  • Audio Commentary With Mondo Digital's Nathaniel Thompson And Troy Howarth, Author Of Make Them Die Slowly: The Kinetic Cinema of Umberto Lenzi
  • Violent Milan – Interview With Director Umberto Lenzi
  • Milian Unleashed – Interview With Actor Tomas Milian
  • A History Of Violence – Interview With Ernesto Gastaldi
  • Italian American Gangster – Interview With Actor Henry Silva
  • Trailer

Disc Specs:

  • Aspect ratio: 2.35.1
  • Audio: English Mono / Italian Mono
  • Closed Captions / English Subtitles
  • Region A
  • Run time: 99 mins

Disc 2: ALMOST HUMAN CD Soundtrack


In their second collaboration – released in Italy as IL GIUSTIZIERE SFIDA LA CITTÀ (THE VIGILANTE CHALLENGES THE CITY) – Tomas Milian stars as a biker named Rambo (the actor borrowed the name from David Morrell’s 1972 novel First Blood) who avenges a friend’s murder by orchestrating a war between rival crime families. Director Umberto Lenzi and screenwriter Vincenzo Mannino (HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK) pack the running time with a barrage of beatings, shootings, kidnappings and chases that raised the bar for ‘70s EuroCrime and “put modern action flicks to shame” (DVD Drive-In). Luciano Catenacci (KILL, BABY… KILL!), Femi Benussi (BLOODY PIT OF HORROR) and Joseph Cotten (CITIZEN KANE) co-star in this “non-stop exciting thriller” (European Trash Cinema) – also released as ONE JUST MAN and RAMBO’S REVENGE – now scanned uncut from the original negative.

Special Features:

  • First Blood – Interview With Director Umberto Lenzi
  • Family Affair – Interview With Actress Ida Galli
  • Kidnapped – Interview With Actor Alessandro Cocco
  • Interview With The Fascist – Interview With Actor Bruno Di Luia
  • Trailer

Disc Specs:

  • Aspect ratio: 2.35.1
  • Audio: English Mono / Italian Mono
  • Closed Captions / English Subtitles
  • Region Free
  • Run time: 93 mins



Following THE TOUGH ONES, this fourth collaboration between director Umberto Lenzi and star Tomas Milian – released as IL TRUCIDO E LO SPIRRO (THE CROOK AND THE COP) – introduced Milian’s iconic character of ‘Monnezza’ and served as the unacknowledged template for 48 HOURS: When a scheming convict (Milian) is sprung from prison by a hard-nosed cop (Claudio Cassinelli of WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?), they’ll team up to hunt down Monnezza’s former crime partner (Henry Silva) who’s kidnapped a critically ill child. Robert Hundar (CUT-THROATS NINE), Nicoletta Machiavelli (NO WAY OUT) and a murderer’s row of EuroCrime’s most recognizable character actors co-star in this “classic politziottesco packed full of fun action” (Starburst) co-written by Lenzi and Dardano Sacchetti (THE BEYOND), now scanned in 2K from the original negative. 

Special Features:

  • In The Asphalt Jungle – Interview With Director Umberto Lenzi
  • Tough Guy Corrado – A Look At The Career of Corrado Solari
  • The Father Of Monnezza – Interview With Screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti
  • Hand-Held Camera For A Tough Cinematographer – Interview With Cinematographer Nino Celeste
  • Making Movies – Interview With Producer Ugo Tucci
  • Extended Bank Robbery Scene Sourced From The Original Negative
  • Trailer

Disc Specs:

  • Aspect ratio: 2.35.1
  • Audio: English Mono / Italian Mono
  • Closed Captions / English Subtitles
  • Region A
  • Run time: 92 mins



For their penultimate collaboration, Umberto Lenzi and producer Luciano Martino (EATEN ALIVE!) brought together Tomas Milian as a cold-blooded crime boss known as ‘The Chinaman,’ John Saxon as a sadistic American mobster looking for his own piece of the action and Maurizio Merli as hot-headed rogue cop Leo Tanzi – first introduced in Lenzi’s THE TOUGH ONES – gunning for them both. Renzo Palmer (STREET LAW) and Gabriella Lepori (5 WOMEN FOR THE KILLER) co-star in this “fantastic piece of Italian genre cinema and a definitive statement to the craftsmanship of Lenzi” (Cinezilla) co-written by Lenzi, Dardano Sacchetti (THE NEW YORK RIPPER) and Ernesto Gastaldi (ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK) featuring an oft-sampled score by Franco Micalizzi (DEATH PROOF, DJANGO UNCHAINED), now scanned uncut in 2K from the original negative.

Special Features:

  • Merli vs. Milian – Interview With Director Umberto Lenzi
  • A Man Of Action – Interview With Umberto Lenzi
  • Me, Milian And Merli – Interview With Umberto Lenzi on His Iconic Characters
  • The Writer, The Director And The Actor – Interview With Screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti
  • Here Comes The Fist – Interview With Actor John Saxon
  • Trailer

Disc Specs:

  • Aspect ratio: 2.35.1
  • Audio: English Mono / Italian Mono
  • Closed Captions / English Subtitles
  • Region Free
  • Run time: 99 mins



For their final collaboration, Umberto Lenzi directs his own razor-sharp screenplay while Tomas Milian delivers a brilliant dual performance reprising the roles of scheming lowlife Sergio ‘Er Monnezza’ Marazzi from FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP as well as his twin brother, hunchbacked sociopath Vincenzo ‘Il Gobbo’ Marazzi from THE TOUGH ONES. With Milian providing his own characters’ dialogue, it’s a potent odyssey of trans prostitutes, armed robberies, double crosses, randy Albanians, angry cops, insane asylums and some of the most startling pathos and politics in the history of the genre. Isa Danieli (SWEPT AWAY), Guido Leontini (EMERGENCY SQUAD) and Solvi Stubing (STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER) co-star in the long-unseen Lenzi/Milian swansong, now scanned uncut in 2K from the original negative. 

Special Features:

  • Tomas And Tomas – Interview With Director Umberto Lenzi
  • He Called Me 'The Tamer' – Interview With Editor Eugenio Alabiso
  • Music And Bullets – Interview With Composer Franco Micalizzi
  • Heart Of Rome – Interview With Composer Antonello Venditti
  • Trailer

Disc Specs:

  • Aspect ratio: 2.35.1
  • Audio: English Mono / Italian Mono
  • Closed Captions / English Subtitles
  • Region Free
  • Run time: 99 mins

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
5 x Blu-ray Discs + 3 x Audio CDs
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Release Date:
March 28th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Alright, so here’s the thing about Umberto Lenzi and Tomas Milian. Lenzi was a famous hothead in Italian cult filmmaking, as was Milian. Their partnership would bring together two of the loudest and most brash people in the industry, and that love-hate relationship got injected right into the white-hot violence and action seen in their films together. But, as with every great, longstanding collaboration, they were no stranger to the law of diminishing returns. Their The Tough Ones and Almost Human stand proud as black marks on the record of Italian filmmaking history, subjecting audiences to seemingly endless sex and violence is given a bit more gumption by the political terror running rampant in Italy at the time.

In short, the Milian-Lenzi films were both designed to be reflective of Italy’s Years of Lead and fast, hard-hitting actioners that could play to international audiences. Unfortunately for the audience, Lenzi mistook hard-hitting action for needlessly dense plotting that’s impossible to parse through with his fast-cut style driving the car. Add Milian’s wild overacting and you have a recipe that’s frequently transgressive and thrilling despite the haphazard approach.

First up in the set is Almost Human, and it’s my personal favorite. Giulio Sacchi (Milian) is a small-time thug who is beaten up and kicked out of his gang after a botched bank robbery. Although Giulio tends to his wounds by bedding his unwilling girlfriend, his instinct to do crime can’t be quelled for long. Soon enough, he implicates a couple of other local criminals (Ray Lovelock and Gino Santercole) in his scheme to kidnap a millionaire’s daughter. This begins Giulio’s reign of terror on Milan.

Presented here in its European title The Executioner, Almost Human is bad taste writ large and Ernesto Gastaldi’s twist-filled script rolls around in the muck like a pig in shit. Add a funky Ennio Morricone score and this becomes an essential entry in the Poliziotteschi genre.

The second film in the set, Syndicate Sadists, is where things take a turn for the plotless. If Almost Human was concerned with picking at the veneer of a psychopath, then Syndicate Sadists is the egregious attempt by American producer Sam Sherman to capitalize on Poliziotteschi’s popularity by adding some American talent to the proceedings. That talent came in the form of Joseph Cotten, who plays a mob boss who doesn’t leave his house. Milian plays another psycho criminal, this time going by the name Rambo and being driven by revenge rather than impulsion. It’s actually funny how many drawn-out scenes of motorcycle driving are in this. Kind of makes the exploitative qualities a bit more apparent.

Free Hand for a Tough Cop saw a bit of a gearshift for the duo of Lenzi and Milian. This is where Tomas Milian introduces Monnezza, a disgusting, curly-haired prisoner who is conscripted by a cop to take down some gangsters in exchange for a reduced sentence. Italian filmmaking stalwart Henry Silva plays the heavy who has just had plastic surgery to alter his face completely. Much, much more humorous than Lenzi and Milian’s previous efforts, this one has a murderer’s row of familiar Italian character actors to become a macho parody of itself. A film that feels good on first glance, but you notice right away that this new direction may result in very diminishing returns if all of the creative efforts are focused on Milian playing an outsized version of himself.

That is, unfortunately, what happens exactly in The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist, which reunited Milian and Maurizio Merli as well as adding a mustachioed John Saxon to the macho mix. Merli is back as Inspector Leonardo Tanzi, with Milian playing a notorious criminal who Tanzi put behind bars previously. Not nearly as suave as Saxon’s character seems to think, the film feels more like a bunch of half-baked Poliziotteschi clichés being thrown together without much care. But hey, when those clichés are car chases, fisticuffs, and shoot-outs, it can be quite enjoyable.

Last up in the set is Brothers Till We Die, where Milian plays the dual role of Monnezza and Il Gobbo (The Hunchback), two lowlife brothers and criminals forced to work together when Monnezza is kicked out of another gang and left for dead. This is Milian swinging for the fences, with not a single iota of realism to be found throughout the whole thing. The tonal whiplash between gross-out comedy and shocking violence is at its most wild here. Take that as a positive or negative, it’s up to you.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays

Tomas Milian is takin’ it to the streets in Violent Streets, presented here as an eight-disc package housed within a top-loading hardbox similar to previous Severin box sets. Each film gets its own black amaray case, with three of the films also offering the soundtracks on CD. All films are housed on BD-50 discs, too. For the titles that offer soundtracks, Severin has also included track listings presented as lobby cards with double-sided art. Each Blu-ray boots up to a standard menu screen with score selections playing over the title screen. Options to play the film, explore chapters, set up audio and video, and browse bonus features are offered on each title menu. Almost Human and Free Hand for a Tough Cop are locked to Region A, and the others are Region Free.

Video Review


All of the films in Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection are presented here uncut and restored from the original negatives. Video quality of each film varies depending on the quality of the restoration, but overall, they all look great here. That chunky Italian film grain is nicely resolved and not marred by any DNR and detail levels look terrific throughout.

The one exception to the rule in this set is Free Hand for a Tough Cop, and for good reason. As someone who owns an imported copy of Free Hand for a Tough Cop from Fractured Visions, it is my pleasure to report that the sickly green and weird color timing on that release has been replaced here with something much, much more natural. Some hasty DNR from the Fractured Visions release is still present, although Severin serves up a more filmic image that improves on the incredibly soft transfer on the previous release. There isn’t much film grain to be found on this one, but I want to commend Severin for cleaning this one up as much as they could.

As a matter of fact, the transfers of The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist and Brothers Till We Die are clear and huge upgrades over the previous Region B releases from 88 Films a few years ago as well. Colors are a lot truer, and compared to those previous releases, both films have great gains in grain definition and contrast. The sources for all transfers seem to be in good condition, with any damage not taking away from the overall picture. Nicks and bumps are expected given the production style and quality of film stock used to shoot these eurocrime thrillers.

Audio Review


Each film in the set gets Italian and English soundtracks to choose from and they’re all served up as DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono tracks. The English dub tracks sound very thin compared to the Italian tracks, although that shouldn’t be surprising given that many of the involved talent dubbed their lines in Italian and not English. On the whole, these tracks are very pleasing given the cheap production style. Dialogue is always nicely balanced with music, and those tinny peaks caused from dubbing are handled very well throughout.

Special Features


Poliziotteschi and Eurocrime genre fans will find hours upon hours of supplements to enjoy here, including interviews with original cast and crew, soundtracks on CD, commentaries from cult film experts and restored trailers. The man himself, Umberto Lenzi, offers up interviews on each film included, and the result is nothing short of comprehensive in its ability to chart this Italian filmmaker’s career during a specific period. You’ll find many stories about how hotheaded both Milian and Lenzi were here, plus some incredible insights into Lenzi’s relationship with the various writers on his films. Simply put, the supplements offered here are breathless and all are terrifically produced. For a very unhinged look at politics, make sure to watch the interview with actor Bruno Di Luia.

Disc 1: Almost Human

  • Audio commentary with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
  • Audio commentary with Mondo Digital’s Nathaniel Thompson and author Troy Howarth
  • Violent Milan – Interview with director Umberto Lenzi (HD 29:01)
  • Milian Unleashed – Interview with actor Tomas Milian (HD 25:51)
  • A History of Violence – Interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (HD 37:44)
  • Italian American Gangster – Interview with actor Henry Silva (HD 5:30)
  • Trailer (HD 3:23)

Disc 2: Almost Human Soundtrack CD

Disc 3: Syndicate Sadists

  • First Blood – Interview with director Umberto Lenzi (HD 8:04)
  • Family Affair – Interview with actress Ida Galli (HD 17:13)
  • Kidnapped – Interview with actor Alessandro Cocco (HD 27:02)
  • Interview with the Fascist – Interview with actor Bruno Di Luia (HD 24:17)
  • Trailer (HD 3:31)

Disc 4: Syndicate Sadists Soundtrack CD

Disc 5: Free Hand for a Tough Cop

  • In the Asphalt Jungle – Interview with director Umberto Lenzi (HD 3:46)
  • Tough Guy Corrado – A Look at the Career of Corrado Solari (HD 38:45)
  • The Father of Monezza – Interview with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti (HD 34:02)
  • Hand-Held Photography for a Tough Cinematographer – Interview with cinematographer Nino Celeste (HD 15:40)
  • Making Moves – Interview with producer Ugo Tucci (HD 12:10)
  • Extended Bank Robbery Scene (HD 3:27)
  • Trailer (HD 3:24)

Disc 6: The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist

  • Merli vs. Milian -- Interview with director Umberto Lenzi (HD 4:18)
  • A Man of Action -- Interview with director Umberto Lenzi (SD 10:13)
  • Me, Milian and Merli -- Interview with director Umberto Lenzi (SD 19:33)
  • The Writer, the Director and the Actor -- Interview with screenwriter Dsrdsno Sacchetti (HD 32:00)
  • Here Comes the Fist -- Interview with John Saxon (HD, 8:37)
  • Trailer (HD 3:41)

Disc 7: The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist Soundtrack CD

Disc 8: Brothers Till We Die

  • Tomas and Tomas: Interview with director Umberto Lenzi (HD 12:05)
  • He Called Me “The Tamer” -- Interview with editor Eugenio Alabiso (HD 19:28)
  • Music and Bullets -- Interview with composer Franco Micalizzi (HD 19:32)
  • Heart of Rome -- Interview with composer Antonello Venditti (HD 18:51)
  • Trailer (HD 3:50)

Final Thoughts

Enter the sleazy, violent world of 1970s-era Italy courtesy of cult filmmaking figureheads Umberto Lenzi and Tomas Milian with Severin’s Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection. This eight-disc box set comes loaded with supplements that cult film fans will enjoy and the transfers are a big upgrade over previous releases of each film. This release comes Recommended!