Blood & Diamonds Blu-ray Review: Dull & Boring

Our man Guido (Claudio Cassinelli) can’t catch a break. Someone snitches on him and his partner Marco (Carmelo Reale) during a diamond heist, he’s caught, and is sentenced to five years in prison. When he gets out, he finds Rizzo (Martin Balsam) the crime boss who orchestrated the heist not only held out his cut of the score but apparently has put a hit out on him.

Or at least that’s what he thinks when two thugs hijack the bus he and his girlfriend Maria (Olga Karlatos) are on. Guido, who thinks with his fists and doesn’t believe in coincidences, figures the thugs aren’t really there to rob the passengers but to kill him, takes quick action by jumping into a passing car and runs the thugs down. Maria takes a stray bullet in the process and dies. Now Guido wants revenge.

The police, however, want Guido’s help in taking Rizzo down. Guido refuses, but not before a corrupt cop tips Rizzo off that Guido seems pretty cozy talking to the police. That makes Rizzo send his right-hand man Tony (Pier Paolo Capponi) to have a sit down (and a slap around) with him.

Meanwhile, Maria’s son Enzo (Alberto Squillante) is pissed at Guido because he figures it’s his fault for getting his mother killed, and now he wants Guido dead. Meanwhile Part II, Enzo’s girl Lisa (Barbara Bouchet) doesn’t care one bit about Enzo’s mother, or Enzo, or anything really except diamonds and she knows about another score and hits up Guido to pull it.

That heist goes off without a hitch, but Guido is still in the hatch. Lisa is proving to be problematic, especially with Enzo still out for blood. Tony sniffs out Marco who has been helping Guido and things turn bloody on that front.

That’s a lot of plot, and we’re not even halfway done, so you’d think it would all lead up to something special, or at least memorable, but I gotta tell you, I watched this movie yesterday and I’d be hard pressed to give you any more details. Truth be told, I spent the last 20 minutes scouring the Internet looking for some plot summaries just to tell you what you’ve just now read. Now it is true that I’ve been battling a mild case of the flu this week and I’ve been popping generic Dayquil pretty heavily, but a man ought to be able to remember at least a little bit about what happened in a movie he’s just watched. My point being, Blood And Diamonds, despite an awful lot of stuff happening in it, is not in the least bit memorable.

It doesn’t help that Cassinelli is dull as dishwater. He seems to be playing Guido like Clint Eastwood in all those Man With No Name films, but he’s nowhere as cool as Clint and so he comes off more bored than calculating. Martin Balsam is solid as always and Capponi’s performance as Tony is terrific. He gives the character an off-balanced, quirky menace that’s just fascinating to watch. Barbara Bouchet isn’t given much to do beyond looking beautiful. Her introduction is basically a five-minute music video where she’s go-go dancing in a bikini and somehow this film manages to make that boring.

The film boasts two diamond heists. Better films would make them centerpieces, or at least make them interesting. Here they are almost afterthoughts. The first one is interrupted before it starts. The second basically involves our criminals walking up to a roadside cafe, sticking a gun in a guy’s face then walking off with a box full of diamonds. There is no plan, no security to overcome, not even a safe to crack. I don’t know if the filmmakers simply didn’t have the budget to shoot a big heist, or they didn’t care to bother with it, which is maybe indicative of the entire film. A lack of budget or lack of initiative created a film that doesn’t do much of anything.

While I’m clearly not a fan of the film, if you are, this release from 88 Films goes out of its way to make it worth your money. It’s been given a new 4K restoration and transfer with new English subtitles. It comes with both Italian and English audio tracks. There is a nice audio commentary from the always great Troy Howarth. There’s a feature-length documentary on director Fernando Di Leo, and a shorter featurette on him as well. Plus a nice booklet with some essays on the film, new artwork, plus a trailer, and Italian Opening, Intermission and Closing titles.

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Mat Brewster

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