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ITALIAN ACTION CRIME 'HIGHWAY RACER' AKA 'POLIZIOTTO SPRINT'

Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER Year: 1977 Rating: ***

Stelvio Massi's Italian action-crime-flick HIGHWAY RACER is built around the premise of a cop who'd rather be (and drives like) an extremely fast yet far too risky race car driver, beginning like a sequel that had already properly introduced the argumentative relationship between titular cop Maurizio Merli and middle-age has-been captain Giancarlo Sbragia...

The latter had once been a speed-demon cop on his own (the best sequence is his own Spanish Steps flashback), but now he spends time butting heads with until inevitably mentoring Merli's Marco Palma after his comic-relief "I'm too old for this" shotgun-riding partner's killed during the fastest of several already dangerous chases...

Japanese Video for HIGHWAY RACER

At which point, usual for Italian b-crimers, our motorhead hero (ironically resembling VANISHING POINT actor Barry Newman) seeks revenge... here against crooks not only driving souped-up vehicles, but wearing crash helmets... 

A unique element seeming almost futuristic wherein, along with the bright colors and streamline cinematography, director Massi makes this relatively low-budget venture seem like an American headliner, obviously influenced by BULLITT and THE FRENCH CONNECTION: plus there's a second-act sequence where Marli goes undercover as a rogue driver working for that formidable den of auto-garage-dwelling goons...

Original Italian title for HIGHWAY RACER

Which is confusing since our supposedly young rookie hero is barely younger than the captain:... but his age fits the rugged experience and sheer talent behind the wheel as director Stelvio Massi (backed by a otherwise slow-burn Stelvio Caprini score) enhances the rip-roaring car chases with the usual 1970's quick zoom shots that continue within the interior police station... 

So that HIGHWAY RACER... despite the villains having no real motivation and the film being twenty-minutes too long for the action genre... is always moving and energetic, even when standing still.

Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Spanish Steps from HIGHWAY RACER
Stunts from HIGHWAY RACER
Stunts from HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli and Giancarlo Sbragia in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Stunts from HIGHWAY RACER
Stunts from HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli and Giancarlo Sbragia in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER with Rosario Borelli
From HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Giancarlo Sbragia in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli with original doomed partner in HIGHWAY RACER
Villains from HIGHWAY RACER
From HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Angelo Infanti in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Angelo Infanti in HIGHWAY RACER
Angelo Infanti in HIGHWAY RACER
Angelo Infanti in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli in HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merliin HIGHWAY RACER with Angelo Infanti
Lilli Carati from HIGHWAY RACER
Lilli Carati from HIGHWAY RACER
Lilli Carati from HIGHWAY RACER
Maurizio Merli  in HIGHWAY RACER
Lilli Carati from HIGHWAY RACERwith Angelo Infanti
Lilli Carati from HIGHWAY RACER with Angelo Infanti
Maurizio Merli  in HIGHWAY RACER

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