MAN OF VIOLENCE
Color, 1971, 107m.
Directed by Pete Walker
Starring Michael Latimer, Luan Peters, Derek Aylward, Maurice Kaufmann

THE BIG SWITCH
Color, 1969, 76m.
Directed by Pete Walker
Starring Sebastian Breaks, Virginia Wetherell, Jack Allen, Derek Aylward
BFI (DVD & Blu-Ray, UK R0 PAL/HD)


Though best known today for his string of socially savage horror classics like Frightmare and The Confessional, director Pete Walker dabbled in multiple genres earlier his career ranging from sexploitation (Cool It, Carol) to these two unheralded oddities of British crime cinema. The more ambitious of the two, Man of Violence, follows a mercenary also named Moon (Prehistoric Womens Latimer) who teams up with two different heavies posing as policemen to steal a huge cache of gold from an Arab country now descending into anarchy. In the tradition of other taboo-bending crime films of the time like Villain, Moon also happens to be bisexual and is pursued by a sadistic gay killer, while beautiful actresses like Luan Peters (Twins of Evil) and Virginia Wetherell (Curse of the Crimson Altar) provide the requisite eye candy. In keeping with the Walker tradition, the narrative takes some surprising twists and turns and concludes on a surprisingly bleak note, and while it may not reach the heights of a bona fide classic like Get Carter, this is certainly time well spent for fans of 70s crime cinema.

Paired up with this film on the BFIs release is the slightly earlier The Big Switch, another Walker crime outing about a cavalier party animal named John Carter (The Night Diggers Breaks) who, apparently having never seen The 39 Steps, goes home with a beautiful woman only to find her dead after he slips out for a pack of smokes. Hes fired from his job shortly afterwards and becomes entangled with a variety of shady characters and beautiful women (including Wetherell again), ultimately forced into the underworld of pornography where a larger criminal plot is looking to ensnare him. Nudity and exploitation takes a front seat here ahead of the crime elements, but Walker keeps the proceedings clipping along nicely and delivers a solid dockside climax. The BFI version can be viewed in either the UK version (68 minutes) or the longer, saucier export version which adds an additional nine minutes of salacious material, which includes an entirely different credit sequence with the export version wasting no time getting down to the nitty gritty. Obviously 99% of consumers will opt for the latter option.

Both films are transferred in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the original negatives (though they could have probably been matted to 1.66:1 at least without losing anything), and the quality is spectacular. Both look absolutely fresh and vivid with nary a flaw in sight even if the budgets were obviously limited. Optional English subtitles are included and come in quite handy during some of the rougher-sounding passages. Extras include theatrical trailers for both feature, an alternate title card for Man of Violence, and a 26-page booklet featuring new essays from Walker himself, Cathi Unsworth, frequent Walker writer David MacGillivray, and Julian Petley.


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