Movie Review: Ricco the Mean Machine

ricco the mean machine1973. Starring Christopher Mitchum. dir. Tulio Demicheli.

Death by acid bath. Rifle-butt dentistry. Switchblade castrations. Ricco the Mean Machine delivers everything the DVD cover promises, and then some. Maybe a bit too much.

A Spanish production, starring Christopher Mitchum (yep, Robert’s son), who may be the least-bloodthirsty avenger ever portrayed on film. Under long blond hair, Christopher looks a lot like his dad, with a lazy delivery that adds some ruthlessness to this character. Oh, he’ll kill you, but he won’t go out of his way to do it.

Mitchum plays Ricco, the son of a organized-crime boss, who doesn’t care much for his father or his business. After his father is gunned down by colleagues (one delivers a brutal-but-unconvincingly-shot “coup de grace”), Ricco vows to exact revenge his way, which begins by wandering into the guarded compound where the new boss has happened to keep captive Ricco’s old girlfriend, played by Maliso Longo.

Ricco begins making trouble for the new boss (Don Vito, played by Arthur Kennedy) by stealing extortion payments and knocking off his unimpressive bodyguards. Aided by his former girlfriend’s cousin and a few of his father’s old buddies, Ricco really starts annoying Don Vito. That’s when the acid baths and switchblade castrations start.

Don Vito also took over “the factory” when he became boss, and the factory makes and packages soap, which besides being a profitable commodity business largely unaffected by market flucuations and seasonal demand, also allows the boss to have a couple big acid vats in which to throw the incompetent and disloyal. And Ricco’s old girlfriend. Which really makes Ricco a mean machine.

If you can get through a couple of the scenes — oh, let’s say the switchblade castration, which at least is ridiculously unrealistic — Ricco is entertaining, with fun early-70s music, clothes, cars and attitude. The ladies (Longo and Barbara Bouchet as the cousin) are very attractive, and Mitchum is fun to watch as he sleepily throws karate chops and tears down one of film history’s least-competent crime organizations.