Not only is Carlo's (Franco Nero) appartment burgled, also a few days
later, planning to make a large deposit at the bank, the bank is held up
by a trio of gangsters (Romano Puppo, Massimo Vanni, Nazzareno Zamperla)
and the thieves steal his money before he can make the deposit ... but not
only that, they also take him hostage, and badly beat him up. Somehow he
gets away with his life, but is forever traumatized, and the police prove
to be little help. But Carlo has sworn revenge ...
But to get revenge on a trio of ruthless professional gangsters is
easier said than done, as when Carlo tries to investigate in the
underworld on his own, he does not only fall on the deaf ears of a society
that doesn't trust him, he is eventually even threatened, beaten and
So he tries a different approach and has soon enough picked out Tommy
(Giancarlo Prete), a small time crook against whom he gathers enough
evidence to be able to blackmail him, then forces him to sniff out his
gangsters. Eventually, the two men even grow friendly with each other, and
shortly before the proposed meeting of Carlo withthe gangsters, Tommy
tries to dissuade him from the whole thing ... and it soon becomes
apparent why, Tommy has sold him to the gangsters, and Carlo soon receives
another violent beating at their hands, then they lock him up to deal
with him later. But Tommy is decent enough that he wants no part in
murder, so he frees Carlo - only to find out that Carlo is hell-bent on
murder as well when he fights it out with the one of the gangsters left to
guard him. Only Tommy can keep him from killing the hood.
Next, Carlo tries to hand over the whole affair to the police, but when
he watches what should have been a clean arrest, he only sees the
gangsters making an escape when the police is still nowhere to be seen ...
so there must be a mole inside the force, which seems to only be confirmed
when he then finds his appartment raided ...
So, withthe help of Tommy, Carlo goes into hiding, but not before
leaving behind a collection of (sometimes artificial) evidence for the
police to be forced to act upon - especially when the press gets wind of
the whole affair. So Carlo's trio of gangsters is soon becoming a hot
potato even for the underworld who would now gladly hand them over to the
law ... but the trio still has one ace up their sleeve - they know who
Tommy is, and soon enough take him hostage and use him to force Carlo out
It all culminates in a shoot-out in a big hangar, with Tommy's
shattered (but still alive) body lieing in the middle and the gangsters
taking shots at him to torture him. Somehow though, Carlo still manages to
shoot all of them, even if it costs the life of Tommy.
In the end, Carlo is promised by the police to get off scot-free - not
because he has done the right thing (which I doubt he has), or because he
has acted out of self defense, but because the police want to hush the
affair up so that it doesn't look as if one determined civilian can
achieve more than the entire police force and that other people won't
follow his example - which leaves a bad taste in Carlo's mouth ...
Barbara Bach plays Franco Nero's wife, a comparatively small role.
Made in the wake of Death Wish, which was released earlier the
same year, it has to be stated that Enzo G.Castellari is of course a
better director than Michael Winner, Franco Nero is a better actor than
Charles Bronson, and the screenplay of Street Law is much more
interesting ... all of which makes Street Law the better film of
the two ...
Its eye for an eye-, pro-vigilant-attitude notwithstanding, Street
Law offers a perfect blend of social comment, character study and
first class action cinema, where the many shoot-outs, beat-em-ups and
chases are always more than just isolated stepiecesand the violence never
only serves its own purpose but is almost a narrative need. That all the
action scenes are excellently staged - as much could be expected from Enzo
G.Castellari - of course doesn't hurt either.