Ricco (Italy 1973)

Rating: **
Alternate Titles: "The Cauldron Of Death", "Mean Machine", "Heavy Dues"
Review Date: 8/27/22
Cast: Christopher Mitchum, Barbara Bouchet, Malisa Longo, Arthur Kennedy

"Don't worry. Just keep sweating."

A young man named Ricco (Christopher Mitchum) has just gotten out of jail, and while he tries to avoid it at first, he is eventually dragged into avenging the death of his father. A ruthless crime boss named Don Vito (Arthur Kennedy) is Ricco's main target, as he's taken over Ricco's family business and stolen his girlfriend Rosa (Malisa Longo) as well. But there's also another girl in his life named Scilla (Barbara Bouchet), who's in the forgery business with her uncle. Unfortunately for her, Ricco has no room in his heart for love.

While it's a fairly straight forward revenge flick, it's also surprisingly nasty and gory. The film's opening scene is a shootout where someone's head gets blown up at point blank range, and the film's biggest shocker is watching a guy's penis get cut off and shoved in his mouth in horrifically graphic detail. Yikes! I've NEVER seen anything like that before. Christopher Mitchum gives an adequate performance, but his character comes across as dull and lifeless. Perhaps he knows that he's trapped by fate and helpless to fight against it. He has very little to say, and a considerable number of his lines are simply "I don't know." His fight scenes try to cash in on the martial arts craze of the 70's and come across as silly and embarrassing. Barbara Bouchet is lovely, although nearly unrecognizable with her auburn hair and subdued makeup. It's a far cry from her 60's glamour image, although she has one laughably gratuitous nude scene that plays out like a fever dream. Most of the nudity in the film is provided by Malisa Longo, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Valerie Leon. She plays the trapped and abused lover well, and is also resigned to her sad fate. Apart from the shock value, it's a solidly mediocre crime thriller with a refreshingly downbeat ending.