Wednesday, May 25, 2011

REVIEW: Kriminal

Director: Umberto Lenzi
Year 1966

Kriminal is a mishmash of 60's film elements, based off the popular 1964 italian comic book of the same name, that showcases the crazy antics of a master thief named Kriminal. With his creepy skeletal disguise, he robs from the rich to make himself richer, all the while being chased by the determined Inspector Milton who will stop at nothing until Kriminal is behind bars.

The film is just wacky as all hell, with enough sixties euro-vibe atmosphere to shake a stick at. The real fun is in Kriminal's nonchalant attitude, as he pulls off some very imaginative capers. He's so cool and calculative, that he appears unstoppable in his pursuit for the riches. There's even some great twists and turns in the narrative that prove Kriminal to be one hell of a tricky bastard and the film to be an entertaining ride where anything can happen.

Nice ascot.... Ass!

Kriminal, that creepy pervert.

The first aspect of this film that really drew me in, was the genre hopping that occurs throughout the film. At its heart, Kriminal is a heist caper that focuses on one master thief as he goes about pulling off a daring robbery that continuously escalates as the story moves on. Underneath that simple premise lies a more mishmashed mixture of sub-genres including horror, comedy, and Eurospy elements. The layers are all there, but they melt so well with the world of which Kriminal inhabits that they really don't jump out at you at first sight. 

What really works for me the most out of all of those sub categories is the Eurospy element. If Kriminal wasn't a thief, he would have made one hell of a secret agent. He globe trots like a madman, romancing every woman that he comes into contact with, often leaving them dead or dying. If that wasn't enough to set him in the mold of the typical super spy, the guy also has charisma to boot. With such a strong Eurospy atmosphere, I debated on whether to add this to my i Spy Eurospy segment, but opted out at the last second seeing that in essence Kriminal is not a good guy. He's a bastard, but oh how good at being a bastard he is. 

Kriminal says, "If you can't take the heat, get your ass out the sauna."

I just can't look at you when you're wearing that ridiculous outfit.

Kriminal is not your usual central character for a movie. He doesn't rescue the girl or save the day, but instead is out for himself. Everything that he does throughout the film is to benefit himself and he often does this at the expense of other people's lives. With all of this bad publicity and selfishness that comes with Kriminal's personal baggage, you surprisingly end up rooting for the guy. It's a strange outcome for someone who is such a prick, but the plans that he executes are so outlandish and bold that you can't help but hope he gets away with it.

It also doesn't hurt that Kriminal has a confidence and self assurance that hasn't been seen on the screen since Sean Connery's turn as James Bond and that is all credited to the fine acting prowess of Glen Saxson. This guy never falters, even at the sight of capture. He just grins and presses on, lying his way out of any jam and diverting the attention of his pursuers with ease. Kriminal is one smooth criminal and he makes it look so easy too.

Kriminal AKA Handsome man about town.

WANTED: That mustache!

Now what I respect Kriminal most for is his fashion sense. The guy is supposed to be a master thief, stealthy to the last, but what kind of outfit does he decide on? A bright yellow skeletal halloween costume that practically screams out "Over here!" With such a vibrant and unstealthy selection, he shockingly never gets caught. Now that's one hell of a master thief.

When not burglarizing the well to do, Kriminal wears the most distinguished in sixties swinging attire. The man can rock an ascot like it's nobodies business and when it comes to sleek suits, he's right up there with some of the most stylish secret agents of the era. In fact the overall style of the film is very lush and exotic, making it a pleasant walk through the fashion of the time. It also doesn't hurt that you've got one of the most beautiful woman of italian cinema to showcase some of these outstanding wardrobes.

Hello Helga Line. You are a stupid head.

Kriminal is one dirty bastard.

Helga Line of Mission Bloody Mary, Special Mission Lady Chaplin, Horror Rises From the Tomb, Loreley's Grasp, and countless numbers of Peplum films, plays a duel role in both Inge and Trude, two sisters who are in possession of Kriminal's next heist. She's outstanding in this film, showcasing why she is such an icon of this era of filmmaking. Able to convey both the victim and the assailant, Line milks all aspects of the spectrum as she plays both sides for all it's worth.

She's made for these kind of mirrored roles, ones that allow here to stretch herself and skew that moral compass. A wolf in sheep's clothing would be a very accurate description for a good majority of her most iconic roles, and this one is no exception. She passes with flying colors and adds a certain erotic tone to the film that would be sorely lacking without her captivating presence.

Where the hell am I?

Roger Big Daddy we got the blonde bandit. Over and out.

With all the colorful cast members and the genre borrowing of the film, the movie has a style all of its own. Taking tremendous efforts to broaden the visual look of a caper film and blend it with the world found within the Kriminal comic book. It's fantastic and surreal as it amplifies an already engaging element of the heist film, and melds it with a realm only found within the kaleidoscopic panels of a cartoon strip.

This is not only implied throughout the film, but accented in the closing moments of the film where we are treated to a stylistic illustration of Kriminal's final moments as a free man. The technique is kind of jarring visually, but aesthetically it fits in perfectly with the playful nature of the film. It also acts as a clever homage to its own source material while at the same time leaving on an outstanding and illustrious note.

Overall this film is just a whole hell of a lot of fun. There's a ton of memorable moments where Kriminal barely escapes capture, only to be later revealed that it was all according to his master plan. The brilliant locations and varying exotic cities that Kriminal visits add to the overall scope of this enjoyable piece and enhance the wonder and style of the Eurospy elements. Even though this is a caper film, it spans such a large portion of the globe and never feels small in scope, that you tend to forget its meager heist origins and take it as a new kind of beast. One that doesn't rely on the trappings of the genre, but in fact embraces all forms of cinematic splendor to tell its story.

In the end, Kriminal is just a film full of flavor and fun, dashed with a spicy undertaking of Eurospy goodness that doesn't take itself too seriously and rather relishes in the delights of the era. It's a feast for the eyes that never lingers, allowing us to get swept up in the outlandish story and unforgettable characters. I had one hell of a time with this film, just sitting back and watching Kriminal do his thing. He may be a bastard that only looks out for number one, but I'll always have a soft spot for this prickish rogue.

If you need a good pick me up and you love sixties italian cinema, then I highly recommend Kriminal for its extremely high entertainment value. Kriminal teaches us that being bad can be oh so good.

4 out of 5 stars               A Kriminal-tastic Heist Film!


  1. Who sells a DVD with English subtitles?

  2. I bought my copy from a guy on, but I'm pretty sure it was English dubbed. Still the dub job was nice. Don't know if there are any good English subtitled versions out there, but it would be worth it to hunt a copy down.