The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist clearly takes influence regarding it's central theme from the Sergio Leone masterpiece 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly', and here we follow the fortunes of three strong male characters a...展开s their lives intertwine in the name of crime. Director Umberto Lenzi plied his trade in a number of Italy's most popular genres, and his resume includes the likes of zombies, cannibals and Giallo; but the only field he's a master in is the Dirty Harry inspired sub-genre, 'Polizia'. This is only my third Lenzi crime flick, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that it's one of the best he ever made, as the masterpiece 'Almost Human' only just edges it out. Umberto Lenzi packs his film with all the things you'd expect from the crime genre; with things such as shootouts, car chases and sadism featuring strongly. The actual plot is a little convoluted, and follows Italian mob boss 'The Chinaman', as he hooks up with New York crime lord Frank Di Maggio. The cop looking to take the pair of them down is Leonardo Tanzi, a man not afraid to break the law in order to bring in his man.
Exactly which of the title monikers apply to which of the three characters is never really explained; although personally, I wager that Tomas Milian's Chinaman is 'The Cynic', John Saxon's mob boss is 'The Rat' and Maurizio Merli violent copper is the aptly named 'The Fist'. One of the film's strongest elements is undoubtedly the cast list, as the central trio of characters are brought to life by three of cult cinema's best actors. Tomas Milian certainly knows his way around a sadistic part, while the underrated (and sadly here underused) John Saxon's resume speaks for itself. Maurizio Merli is perhaps the least accredited member of the cast, but lead roles in this and Lenzi's Violent Naples certainly shows that the man can play the gritty copper. The plot flows very well, and Lenzi's direction continually impresses. It can be a little hard to follow at times, but there's always enough shooting and murders to keep genre fans happy. The ending is a major strongpoint too, as Lenzi spends the entire film building up to a showdown, and when it hits; it doesn't disappoint. Overall, this is a first class example of the Italian crime thriller and comes highly recommended.