Mob Snobs in Heat!
But aside from those masters and those monsters, Italy did give us one other wunderkind worth tipping your hat to... Margi Newton! Man, what a B-Movie mega-beauty! From the moment when she bounded through the forest dressed in nothing but leaves and body paints in Hell of the Living Dead until right this minute, I've been Margi's biggest fan.
Margi Movies... Mafia Movies. Shall the twain meet? Well, they did, way back in 1980, and while this film may never be The Godfather, it's got a strong shot at boggarting the title of The Bodfather, because Mafia, una legge che non perdona (AKA: The Iron Hand of the Mafia) does have one thing that The Godfather and most others cannot claim: A topless fight scene featuring Margit Evelyn Newton.
Yes, yes, yes, yes. Another winner for Margi. However, this isn't just a fun fest. This is a serious drama. That's not to say it's that good of a serious drama, but one does with what one can, si? Si.
The story begins with a funeral that sets of a string of events that firm up by mid point to be an all-out Mob War and a clash of internal forces vying for control of the mafia. But who is the hard target here? Gordon Mitchell's Don Nicola or Raffaele Fortunato's fortune seeking Don Raffael?
Naturally you've got one rising star who could prove to be the key to the whole shebang. That is, of course, a guy named Tony (Jackie Basehart). This guy truly amazes me. No, not as a mobster... he's kind of a joke there. He could be in the middle of the biggest interstellar mob war of all time for all the crap I give! No, what amazes me is what he DOES find himself in the middle of. Here we get this hairy douche who looks like one of the N*Sync boys (the white afro kid... uh... Justin, but with a mustache) and he's got this majorly hot woman in his bed. Yep, we're talking star Malisa Longo as Angela. Man, this woman is hot, and director Roberto Girometti (who wrote this spiller thriller along with Pierpaolo Lubrani and Pelio Quaglia) takes great pains to remind you of this in as many naked frames showing as much of her as possible as often as he can get away with it. Good thing it's summer! But if the fact that Tony (definitely not a Soprano) gets to make the naked pretzel with Angela isn't shocking enough (I wondered if this might actually be a horror film), the fact that he gets to cheat on her with Margit Evelyn Newton is the most shocking thing of all.
Credited here as Margie Moreau, Margi's character of Teresa is definitively too good for this guy, especially in that she starts her repeated and honorable practice of wearing see through items when she's wearing anything at all right here. Man! But in Tony's defense, Margi is really hot, and, in truth, she resembles Malisa Longo quite a bit. Some websites out there actually feature photos from this film with Margi's photos credited to Malisa and Malisa's photos credited to Margi! So... maybe he's just stupid (and lucky) and didn't realize he was cheating. Maybe he thought that Teresa actually WAS Angela? I wonder if that excuse would work. Hmmm.
Back to the plot (such that it is). The mob war intensifies with some truly brutal killings (though unconvincing, the wet cement scene is pretty scary to consider). It spirals out of control, however, when Tony and company kidnap Don Raffael's grandson Michael (a double Godfather reference, que no?) and sets events into motion that may not be stopped.
This keeps Tony stuck in the middle of the action... while he finds himself still stuck in the middle of a hot Italian Sandwich between Margi and Malisa. Let me tell you, their fight scene (they choreographed it themselves) is the most exciting fight scene I've seen since Yoda and Sidious went at it in the Imperial Senate! Whew. Pause buttons, screen shots and slow-motion features were made for scenes like this. Margi's breast reveal in Hell of the Living Dead will remain a classic, but here, when both of Margi's breasts repeatedly pop out of her top while she's rolling around the floor in a face-slapping, clothes-grabbing, hair-pulling girl fight... well... that's art.
What's more, Margi isn't just Early-'80's B-Movie Babe Eye Candy. The lady could act and she manages to make good on her promise throughout her screen time. She pulls a lot of emotions out of what she's given, and she looks good doing it! Malisa is no slouch either, especially as she wears almost as much to Sunbathe as Margi did during her anthropological studies during Hell of the Living Dead. As the film's lead, she's called upon to do a lot, and she manages to do a fine job and act well throughout the many dangers, toils and snares she's faced with. These two are shining jewels in the rough that is Mafia, una legge che non perdona.
Sadly, "Rough" it is. Aside from the obvious "homage" to Coppola's lil' mob flick, The Iron Hand of the Mafia never quite gels as a film or great story. The acting is so-so, and the fight scenes (except for the aforementioned catfight) don't quite add up to excitement. Jackie Basehart's horribly phony-looking punches are just the icing on the cake of mediocrity here.
True, many of the shortcomings here can be placed firmly on the shoulders of the budget, which is understandable. However, when one sees how good low budget films can get, one has to state openly that the curve doesn't always warrant the grade. Two Stars out of Five for Mafia, una legge che non perdona, the Italian movie about Italian Gangsters in Italy and the naked Italian women who inexplicably love them. Not a great film... but not the worst either. I'll say this, though... if a sequel is in the works, I'll be first in line... that is... if one can get the surviving cast back. Malisa Longo has aged well... I'm sure Margi's looking pretty good. Wherever she is. Margi? Come back to films. I know you're out there with your family in the Italian Countryside, playing your drums and fielding calls from Kassogi, but you had that... eh... je ne sais que. Or the Italian Equivalent at least. Well, until that happens, I'll see you all in the next Burning Reel.
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