LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN (1976)
Rating: 3.5 on 4 / Buy the DVD here
Tagline: From the director of Cannibal Holocaust!
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Starring Marc Porel, Ray Lovelock, and Adolfo Celi
THE PLAN: Fred (Marc Porel) and Tony (Ray Lovelock) are on a “special elite squad” of cops that essentially gives them free reign to do whatever the f*ck they want to do get the job done. Between stopping hostage situations and nailing anything that moves, the two hone in on a notorious drug dealer that they’ve been tasked to take down. Hilarious macho bullshit and blatant sexism carbombed with a layer of unapproachable violence ensues.
THE KILL: Buddy Cop movies generally feature two cops from different world partnered up as crime-fighting detectives, who (regardless of their unconventional ways) always manage to bust the bad guys, either by throwing them in jail and putting them in a body bag. It’s a formula that’s as ageless as time, though one that really hit it’s note in the ‘80s and early ‘90s with shite like 48 HRS., LETHAL WEAPON, TANGO & CASH, and THE LAST BOYSCOUT (just to name a few). But before the craze really hit, there was an Italian monster who practically wrote the book… and that monster is the exploitive grindhouse action flick LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN, from schlocky grime director Ruggero Deodato (the man who also directed CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST).
In many ways, LIVE LIKE A COP feels like a movie that should have been made today, as while it’s ahead of the Buddy Cop craze, it’s practically a giant cliché of the Buddy Cop formula that knows what it’s doing, that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and one that’s so over-the-top that it could only be a joke. But it’s not. It’s the real deal, which makes LIVE LIKE A COP one of the most entertaining no-nonsense cop thriller / action flicks ever made, jam-packed with blatant sexism, fascism, chauvinism, and just about any other exploitive ism you could imagine. In other words, it’s a fantastic display of grindhouse cinema, and a fantastic example of the action movie of yore, where the sex and violence is pushed to the absolute limit, where the good guys shoot first and ask questions later, and where the good guys don’t really a give a f*ck about morality and will do whatever it takes to take the bad guy down.
As cops of the “special elite force”, Fred and Tony are about as badass as they get. Sure, they look like supermodels who aren’t quite old enough to drink legally, but that doesn’t keep them from being the swiftest motorcycle drivers on the planet, the best shots with their little hand guns (they quite literally deliver a kill-shot with every bullet they fire), and (of course) some of the smoothest pussy magnets you’ll ever come across. They’re not muscle-bound heroes, they’re not hardened veterans, they’re just a couple of young good-looking dudes who don’t give a f*ck about anything other than scoring with chicks (i.e., double-teaming chicks), killing bad guys, riding their motorcycle around, and setting expensive cars on fire. They’re essentially a couple of carefree guys thrown into one of the most badass movies ever made.
And while the duo obviously have game, LIVE LIKE A COP is also one of the most homoerotic movies in the history of action movies, so much so that it gets to the point of being ridiculous. The two tandem ride their motorcycle (yes, they share the same motorcycle), they share an apartment and have no problems walking around shirtless or with a shirt—but no pants, and they barrage of side-glances and “looks” they share with each other sends the message that not only are they partners on the force—but they’re partners in bed, too. And yet, when told they could nail the secretary if only they’d be down for a threesome, the two are appalled at the idea of sharing a bed together.
To counteract the homoeroticism, the film is overbearingly sexist and machonomistic. When Fred and Tony aren’t trying to f*ck the secretary by any means possible (how she resists they’re charm is a mystery), they’re nailing random hoes left and right—by force. There’s no rape going on or anything (all these chicks wants their cock), Fred does slap the shit outta one chick—so hard that her shirt comes off. And this act of violence turns her on so much that just his touch sends her over the edge. And when Fred’s done nailing her, Tony comes in afterwards to finish the job—because the chick is still the horniest chick alive. Later, they come across another acquaintance of a suspect, they pull off her short, and begin to double-team her as well (regardless of the fact that they’re in the middle of a stake out).
Ok, so Fred and Tony are pimps (albeit gay for each other), and they don’t give a f*ck about killing bad guys or f*cking shit up. What about the baddies here? Well, the main drug dealer is pretty much a wanker, but the thugs they meet along the way are all pretty ruthless (and of course, all the ruthless violence is laid upon various women). From the two purse snatchers in the beginning who drag their victim to death along the sidewalk, to the hostage situation where the dudes get their kicks beating the victim, the bad guys are pretty bad—but there’s no main bad dude to really fuel the fire. Cause it’s all about Fred and Tony, and everyone else is inconsequential, I suppose.
LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN is the type of action film that could never be made today. The two guys are too good looking to be cops, the movie hates on women too much, and the violence is unnecessarily over the top. And because of all of this, the film is a legend in the REEL ACTION archives of awesomeness. In a time where action is PG-13, it’s a refreshing change of pace to see a flick that doesn’t hold back, that relishes in it’s R rated-ness, that quite frankly doesn’t give a f*ck about much of anything (just like the main characters). Because it’s an Italian import (dubbed and everything), they were able to get away with doing way more than any U.S. cop thriller could have dreamed of—and for that, it will always have a place in my heart.
Extended trailer for LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN!
TOP DEATH: After a shoot-out in an dirt-covered ravine, Fred, hiding out in an abandoned tractor, pops out in the nick of time to blow away some poor henchman’s face at point-blank range. While it’s not spectacular, the death is somewhat of a shocker as it’s brutal and unnecessarily violent, and, of course, totally awesome.
TOP ACTION SCENE: The opening sequence is one that starts strong and gets you hooked right from the beginning. A couple of thugs snatch a purse on a motorcycle, killing the victim in the process. Robbery turns into a motorcycle chase that spans across the city when Fred and Tony try and intervene—a chase sequence that goes beyond the opening credits and well into the movie, with a finale that speaks wonders as to the attitude of said cops and what you can expect from the rest of the film. Motorcycle chase sequences always equal a good time!
TOP HOMOEROTIC MOMENT: The whole movie is an ode to homoeroticism for Fred and Tony, from the tandem motorcycle rides to their shared apartment where they walk around shirtless and pantless. On the other hand, when propositioned for a threesome with a special lady friend, they’re both appalled at the idea of sharing a bed together. Right…
FEMALE EXPLOITATION: Not only are our heroes the most male Chauvinistic pigs that have ever worn a badge, but there are a number of boobies thrown into the mix to keep it entertaining. Fred slaps the shirt off one chick who’s so turned on that she immediately starts to orgasim… and after she’s done playing hide the salami him, Tony jumps in for a follow-up round—she simply can’t get enough of these guys! There’s also a random topless sunbather that shows up on the most overcast day ever for some rays on her ta-tas (the duo, of course, tag-team this chick, too).
TOP LINE/DIALOGUE: You’re wrong; he’s not screwing my mother. That seems to be the one thing on your mind, just trying to get laid.
DRINKING GAME: Every time you see Marc Porel's face and think of Mischa Barton, you gotta drink!
TRIVIATo help prepare him for HOT FUZZ, Quentin Tarantino invited director Edgar Wright to his house for a screening of LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN, which Wright later called “the most homoerotic cop film” he had ever seen.