Saturday, 27 April 2013

Marked For Torture

'Man Of Violence' (aka 'Moon') presents us with a domestic (and international) criminal world that is both swinging and sleazy, an underworld milieu of smuggling and double crosses, crooks pretending to be cops, cops pretending to be crooks, pop music, loose women, torture and casual murder.

Michael Latimer plays Moon, an amoral, bisexual, sharp dressed hustler who is quick with a gun and makes a living by playing both ends against the middle. He seems to only work for crooks, who expect him to be on the make and, to compensate, try to rip him off and kill at every turn. It’s a pretty tiring way to earn a crust, really, but there are compensations: lots of blonde women in their underwear (and out of it), the occasional pretty boy and, in this particular instance, a trip to North Africa and a shot at nicking thirty million quid in gold bullion.

Directed by Pete Walker, ‘Moon’ is too long and too slow to be quite the pop art pulp thriller it wants to be but, when it’s good, it’s excellent. Luan Peters gives an good and thoughtful  performance as Angel, but her future career was more or less dictated by her comeliness, i.e. 'no dramatic roles for you, my girl, just stand around in just your pants'.  

There are lots of scenes in which something genuinely surprising happens, or there’s a burst of violence or suggestion of sadism that reminds the viewer of James Hadley Chase at his nastiest and most prurient. Most of all, I kept thinking of a mod James Bond on a budget, although it is far grittier and dirtier and serious than, say, the twinkly, self-parodying ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, released in the same year. 

As it is it’s a fascinating curio, but with a bit more money and a few more takes (maybe a few songs) it could have been the British equivalent of one of Seijun Suzuki’s manic psychedelic yakuza films. Be warned, however, watching this film will make you wonder if you could get away with a bright orange shirt and a red and black neckerchief. The answer is 'NO'.

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