Plot: A special law enforcement task force has been created, known as The Seven-Ups, as the criminals they hunt down are all high value targets with at least seven years of prison time ahead. Buddy (Roy Scheider) heads up this elite squad and with good reason, as he is a grizzled veteran who knows how the criminal mind works, not to mention the politics of the criminal underworld. He and his men are given more freedom to operate than any agents of the law, which means Buddy sometimes bends or even breaks the rules, if that is what it takes. He also has contacts within the mob world, which he can tap into to have an edge on the criminals, but of course, the legal conflicts involved are immense. When someone begins to kidnap high ranking crime bosses, Buddy finds himself in a precarious place and unless he can execute a perfect plan, The Seven-Ups are all but doomed.
Entertainment Value: Although The Seven-Ups was made as an obvious attempt to capture of the magic of The French Connection, that is by no means a bad thing, as this is one rock solid movie. The film borrows a lot of elements from that other movie, but never feels like a cheap knockoff version and has enough fresh elements to be able to stand on its own merits. I am sure some will still see this as a lesser take on similar material and to an extent that is true, but that doesn’t make The Seven-Ups a bad movie, as few films can aspire to be The French Connection. The elements borrowed are given the utmost respect and executed in skillful fashion, from the cast to the gritty narrative to of course, the car chases involved. The epic car chase in this movie alone is enough reason to recommend a watch, as it is one of the best in cinema and was performed by Bill Hickman, who also drove in Bullitt and The French Connection. The narrative is an interesting one with a nice underworld grit and plenty of twists and turns, so it will keep you reeled in from the start. I think the movie all you could want from a 70s crime flick, just a fun, well crafted picture.
The cast of The Seven-Ups is strong and has several ties to The French Connection, with the actors in similar roles in both movies. Roy Scheider has the lead and turns in a powerful performance, one that captures a good deal of emotion, more than you might expect from a gritty crime movie. He conveys the strength needed to have survived in this dangerous world so long, but also a weariness and emotional depth that really flesh out the character. I think he brings out the best in his costars as well, as most of the best scenes here are when Scheider plays off his cast mates. Tony Lo Bianco also has a good effort in The Seven-Ups and has a very authentic texture inside the role, which makes sense, given his experience in the genre. The rest of the cast includes Bill Hickman, Richard Lynch, Victor Arnold, and even cult favorite Joe Spinell. I am sure some will dismiss this because it is so heavily inspired by The French Connection, but that would be foolish, as The Seven-Ups delivers a terrific crime movie experience and has all the right ingredients for a film of this kind.
The Disc: Twilight Time presents the movie in a clean, clean visual treatment that shows remarkable detail, but allows the natural texture to shine through. The extras here are substantial to say the least, with an isolated musical score, a second isolated score with an unused Johnny Mandel score, an introduction from the director, audio comments from a film historian, and that’s just the start. We also have several featurettes on various aspects of the production, a scrapbook of production materials, and galleries of lobby cards, stills, and other promotional materials, plus the movie’s theatrical trailers, so this is a loaded release.