'Wake Up And Kill' (2-Disc Special Edition)
(Robert Hoffmann, Lisa Gastoni, Gian Maria Volonte, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray+DVD / NR / (1966) 2015 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: During the 1960's, Luciano Lutring committed more than one hundred armed robberies in Italy and on the French Riviera! To the media he was the machine gun soloist, a name he'd earned as he kept his weapon in a violin case. To the public he was a romantic figure, one who only targeted the wealthy, stealing more than 35 billion lire during his criminal career. 'Wake Up and Kill' (aka 'Wake Up and Die') was the logical extension of such fame.
Blu ray Verdict: Although the poliziotteschi sub-genre would not dominate the Italian box-office until the 1970's - a period which also saw crime movies in American cinema become distinctly grittier - it's roots can be traced back to the early work of director Carlo Lizzani. His early work, such as this just re-released 'Wake Up and Kill' (also known as 'Wake Up and Die') and even 'The Violent Four' (1968), laid the foundations for a rougher crime flick, movies that weren't afraid be socially aware or show Italy as the haven for crime and corruption it had become.
As noted above, for 'Wake Up and Kill,' Lizzani took inspiration from one of the country's most popular Robin Hood figures - Luciano Lutring. And don't worry if you have never heard of Lutring before sitting down to watch this movie, for nor had I. For the record, Lutring served 12 years in prison for his crimes, although what happened to him upon release is nothing I delved into, sorry). That said, his story is a familiar one. The likes of Ned Kelly and Jesse James come immediately to mind - criminals who are pardoned of their acts through folk-tales, becoming mythic heroes in the process.
Lutring (played with a charismatic swagger by Robert Hoffman) robs jewels in broad daylight by smashing shop windows with a hammer and grabbing what he can. As his fame rises and his reputation hardens, he turns increasingly violent, carrying a sub-machine gun in a violin case which lends him the name, the aforementioned "the machine-gun soloist."
Directed by Carlo Lizzani ('Requiescant'), scored by Ennio Morricone, penned by the future screenwriter of 'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,' and featuring that film's star, Gian Maria Volonté, in a key supporting role, 'Wake Up and Kill's true-crime thrills serve as an enthralling dry run for those aforementioned poliziotteschi movies that would follow a few years later. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentations of two versions of the film: the original full-length Italian release, and the shortened English-language cut
Italian and English soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono sound on the respective versions of the film
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian version
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English cut
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist