Deep in the heart of New York City, some ski-masked psycho is murdering cops. Lieutenant Fred O'Connor (Keitel) is coming under increasing pressure to solve the murders but there are no concrete leads for these seemingly-random assaults. In between the demands of work O'Connor lounges comfortably in his "hideaway," a posh uptown apartment bought with confiscated drug money which he shares with his partner Bob (Leonard Mann).
O'Connor begins to be pursued by a weird little kid (Johnny Lyden). Lyden eventually follows Keitel back to the apartment and confesses to the copkiller crimes. O'Connor beats Lydon, ties him up and locks him inside the bathroom.
After investigation by Keitel uncovers the kid to be nothing more than some rich tattle tale, Keitel continues to keep him bound. After accidentally murdering his partner he sets Lydon free and attempts to pin the murder on Lydon, but Lydon has other special plans of his own. Complicating matter's further is Keitel's growing involvement with Bob's widow (Nicole Garcia), who seems to be geting closer to uncovering the truth of the entire affair.
Numerous public domain video companies have released Corrupt in recent years, most-likely using Thorn-EMI's out-of-print VHS copy as their source.
Canada's Direct Source Media released the film under its oriingal title Corrupt with slightly muddy yet watchable video and a mono audio track which is fairly clear and free of disortion. As with most Direct Source titles, the title menu screen is narrated(!) by a helpful guide which explains all the features of the dvd to the uninformed buyer. Neat but essentially useless. The disc also features a short biography of Keitel.
Brentwood Video released Corrupt under the Bad Cop 2 title (another open reference to Bad Lieutenant) in both a standalone release and a few of their multi-disc box sets. While the box art displays this retitle the movie itself has been mercifully left unchanged. A cursory examination of the Brentwood disc shows very little different from the direct source version so it seems like they either came from the same or Brentwood simply re-used the contents of the Direct Source's disc. Brentwoods re-titled "Bad Cop 1" is actually the excellent Italian crime film Confessions of a Police Captain, prsented in another poor version likely ripped from VHS.
No matter what version you see, it's still a great film regardless of how poorly-cropped of muffled it may look. One hopes that some company might eventually take the care to present this unkown gem in the way which it desperately deserves.
While at first glance it seems as if Keitel's part in Corrupt is a close cousin to his later role in Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, examination reveals this film to have a far more rich and detailed performance. Whereas the Bad Lieutenant is literally exploding with angst and hatred of the world, Keitel's Lieutenant O'Connor is all about successive hidden layers of sexual ambiguity and sadomasochistic urges. Slowly the roles of Keitel and Lydon as Law Enforcement and Criminal become preverted to those of master and slave, with both frequently switching side throughout the course of the picture. Long-time Italian cinema fixture Leonard Mann (L'Umanoide, Cut and Run) ,also delivers a deep performance as Keitel's partner who reacts much like a scorned lover to the intrusion of Lydon into their sanctuary. In his first starring dramatic role, Lydon essentially plays the same chameleon character which he had honed in the arena of punk rock. Coming in somewhere between a weird mix of innocent schoolboy and anarchist, Lydon's naturalsitc style perfectly captures his role as the primary irritant which sends the delicate balance of Keitel's and Mann's worlds spiraling into oblivion.
Faezna;s direction seems as good as any of the excellent Italian film of the day, effortlessly moving from smooth exterior compositions to the angular perfection of the prison-like apartment. Ennio Morricone's score reinforces this precision with an excellent score full of mechanical percussion mixed with a whispy guitar lead which underscores the foreign presence of Lydon. Music plays an important role in Corrupt, most importantly the one strange country music track "Tchaikovsky's Destruction" which is replayed throughout the film to emphasize the changes occuring within the characters.