Syndicate Sadists!

My biker knight in black leather
Umberto Lenzi
Tomas Milian, Joseph Cotton, Maria Fiore, Mario Piave, Alessandro Cocco
The Setup: 
Badass Italian biker saves kidnapped kid.

“Oh my God, have sadists been syndicated?” asked my friend upon learning that I was going home to watch this movie. “Have sadists been picked up for syndication?” Well, not really, because while this film contains a fair amount of bad guys, they don’t seem particularly sadistic, and there seems to be little evidence of a syndicate. Even the artwork, like an old men’s magazine of the 40s, of a bound man being threatened by a… well, a sadist with a blowtorch, has no relation whatsoever to the movie. But with a title like that it received my immediate attention, and once I saw that the hero is a cigar-smokin’ bearded Italian biker, it rocketed to the top of my list. Then I watched the first ten minutes and then put something else on, and it took me about three weeks to finally get through the rest of the movie.

So the story concerns Rambo, yes, Rambo [this was seven years before the Stallone Rambo], who is the aforementioned badass biker. He is seen riding along, looking badass, under the credits, then goes to visit this family that he knows. The dad is a cop and he talks about Rambo joining a sort of private police force, because crime is out of control in Milan. But Rambo operates alone. Still, he says that he’ll stop by the police station the next day.

We then briefly meet this woman Teleflora, whose name also predated the service of the same name that allows you to order fresh-cut flowers over the telephone. She walks into a bar and orders a double while she tells the bartender that she had a dream that Rambo was back, and that he was riding in on a big white horse. You’d think from this that she’s going to matter in some way, but unless I’m mistaken, she just vanishes after this scene.

So Rambo shows up at the police station and takes part in the judo [or whatever] training, where he kicks the ass of the guy in charge, and several others. Then he goes to the firing range and we see that he shoots with deadly accuracy. Then they offer him a job! But he turns it down, because Rambo works alone. So I guess he just came in and spent hours going through this exercise to prove to everyone that he’s the shit?

But dastardly deeds are afoot, as Champiero, the gee-whiz son of some rich guy, is kidnapped by four thugs. Then for some reason this truck Rambo is riding in is attacked, and Rambo jumps his bike out of the flaming vehicle and pursues, dealing justice to the bad guys, and catching this crook to offer back to his police friend. The latent homoerotic content is brought to the surface as Rambo says to his friend “You’re really terrific” and his friend replies “You just get your hand off that leg of mine.”

Okay, so Rambo has officially been drawn in to doing some off-the-record police work. First he visits this Karl Lagerfeld-type guy who he busted previously, then we notice that this thing [sometimes] boasts some surprisingly funky music, then he rescues Champiero for the first of many times. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s MY dirty mind, but I interpreted an erotic subtext between the young Champiero and the big strapping bearded leather-wearing biker, and several times we see Champiero smile beatifically up at his biker hero with an expression of true love. And of course, this is the fantasy many young boys have. Ah.

But wait, Rambo has ANOTHER young boy on the side, in the form of his police buddy’s son, who he promises a motorcycle if the kid vows to be a “good boy.” You cannot imagine the sheer volume of naughty comments that I am discreetly refraining from making.

But the fact is, it’s true that I was not giving this film the highest degree of attention, but I could only make out the barest outline of the plot. There’s a wild casino takeover, then the thugs rough up [REALLY rough up] this prostitute for information about Rambo [maybe that was Teleflora?], then the OTHER kid gets abducted, leading to a funny scene in which the distraught parents call Rambo to tell him, and he dismissively says “I’m sure he’s all right. I’ll call you tomorrow,” and hangs up. There’s then this very bizarre sequence in which someone is shot repeatedly while wearing a bulletproof vest, imagining that getting shot while wearing one is akin to being tapped on the shoulder.

So then Rambo drives around at night and finds Champiero all tied up and gagged in the middle of a field. NAMBLA members may want to rent this movie. Especially as next Rambo is coddling the boy on his motorcycle as the tyke beams up at him with the look of true love.

They repair to this farmhouse that seems to be next to the House of Laughing Windows, and leave the tyke upstairs. You will notice in this scene [around 1:15:00] that it is obviously daytime outside one window, and the dead of night out the window on the window on the other wall. Rambo gives the kid a gun and some instructions, then goes outside. Then comes a similar but even more obvious gaffe as the window is black as pitch from the outside, while inside the interior is brilliantly illuminated.

The kid shoots a flare and this lights up the night so Rambo can take out the bad guys. There’s a shootout, blah, blah, and the kid is returned to his parents. I will reserve comment on the exchange that takes place between Rambo and the boy upon taking their leave. “Remember to keep our secret,” Rambo advises. “But I want to tell my mother at least… about you,” replies Champiero. “Not even your mother,” says Rambo. The biker then goes and buys the other boy a motorcycle [workin’ the town, he is] and rides off on his solitary way.

While amusing, it wasn’t that amusing. It’s probably better to hear about than sit through. It starts decently enough, but it’s not at all long into it before you [or at least I] know exactly what one is in for, and interest can diminish. But if you don’t watch a lot of bad movies and haven’t really uncovered the filmic mystery of Italian pulp, I suppose it can fit the bill.

Should you watch it: 

If you want. Your pleasure will increase in inverse relationship to how much of this stuff you’ve seen before.