They Call Me Jeeg

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They Call Me Jeeg
Italian theatrical poster
Directed byGabriele Mainetti
Written byNicola Guaglianone [it]
Produced byGabriele Mainetti
StarringClaudio Santamaria
Luca Marinelli
Ilenia Pastorelli
CinematographyMichele D'Attanasio
Edited byFederico Conforti
Andrea Maguolo
Music byMichele Braga
Gabriele Mainetti
Goon Films, Rai Cinema
Distributed byLucky Red (Italy)
Uncork'd Entertainment (U.S.)
Release date
Running time
112 minutes
LanguageItalian / Romanesco dialect
Budget€1.7 million
Box office€6 million[1]

They Call Me Jeeg (Italian: Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot; lit.'They called him Jeeg Robot') is a 2015 Italian superhero film directed by Gabriele Mainetti and starring Claudio Santamaria in the lead role.[2][3] The plot concerns a lonely misanthropic crook named Enzo, who gets superhuman strength after being affected by radioactive waste in the Tiber waters.

The film is a tribute to the anime and manga series Steel Jeeg (Jeeg robot d'acciaio in Italy, where it is very popular) by Gō Nagai, from which takes up some thematics;[4] the title is an in-joke based on the Alessia character who believes that the hero of the anime, Hiroshi Shiba, exists in the real world, and she mistakes Enzo for him.[4] The title is also a reference to the spaghetti western film They Call Me Trinity (Lo chiamavano Trinità).

It received largely positive critical reviews and was nominated for several film industry awards, including seventeen David di Donatello, winning eight. The film was also one of seven films on a shortlist to be selected as the Italian entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards,[5] but the film Fuocoammare was chosen instead.[6]

After a successful run in Italian theaters in 2016, the movie got a limited release in the U.S. starting 17 March 2017 by Uncork'd Entertainment.[7][8]


Enzo Ceccotti is a thief who lives in Rome's slum Tor Bella Monaca. After stealing a wristwatch, Enzo escapes two police officers by jumping into the Tiber. When Enzo tries to get out, he comes into contact with radioactive waste after he accidentally breaks a barrel under the river level. Spending a night feverish and vomiting, he wakes up healed but with a persistent cough.

Enzo decides to sell the watch to Sergio, who works for Fabio Cannizzaro, known as "The Gipsy", a psychopathic gangster who hungers for fame. Sergio takes him on a job which is supposed to involve extracting cocaine from inside a pair of drug mule brothers. At Sergio's home, Enzo meets his daughter Alessia, a psychologically damaged woman who escapes reality by continuously watching the Steel Jeeg anime and relating everything to it. After arriving with the drug smugglers at the top of a building under construction, one of them dies from an overdose when the container in his stomach breaks. Sergio refuses to take him to hospital, so the man's brother grabs Sergio's gun and shoots him. Sergio, before dying, bashes the man's head against a pillar. The man then shoots Enzo in the shoulder, knocking him backwards off the building; miraculously, Enzo survives.

At home, Enzo discovers he has acquired exceptional strength, the reason for his healing ability. That night, he steals an entire ATM and is filmed by a security camera; the surveillance video goes viral, and the press calls Enzo a super-criminal, although no one knows his true identity. Gipsy discovers that Sergio has not returned with the cocaine, which the gang bought from a camorra clan led by Nunzia Lo Cosimo, a terrorist. Gipsy must retrieve the cocaine or pay Nunzia off, so he and his gang invade Sergio's place, finding only Alessia. Enzo rescues her by crushing Gipsy's posse, and Alessia mistakes him for Hiroshi Shiba, the hero of Steel Jeeg.

Enzo, who wishes to live in solitude, takes Alessia to a residential care home, where she previously stayed while her father was imprisoned. Finding information hidden in Sergio's spectacle case, Enzo robs the valuable contents of the same armored truck that Gipsy and his gang are about to assault. This increases Enzo's infamy, making Gipsy jealous. Shortly thereafter, two police officers bring Alessia to Enzo after they find her wandering in the highway, and he takes her in. That night, as they watch a Steel Jeeg episode, Alessia experiences an emotional breakdown, revealing that she suffered sexual abuse.

Gipsy's gang crumbles as his gang questions his leadership, and Gipsy orders his rottweilers to maul a gangster who suggests taking a loan. However, with no other options, Gipsy contacts Brazilian transsexual loanshark Marcellone, only to be attacked by Nunzia and her gang; in the ensuing clash, only Gipsy and Nunzia survive.

Enzo initiates a sexual encounter, which Alessia passively submits to after asking him to slow down. During an argument immediately afterwards, Enzo reveals the truth about her father's death. Alessia flees in anger and boards a tram. Enzo stops it with his superhuman strength and apologizes, telling Alessia he cares about her and offering to go with her to see her father's body. The passengers film this, and Gipsy discovers Enzo's identity. He and his assistant, Tazzina, kidnap Alessia to force Enzo into revealing how he obtained his powers. Enzo takes him to the Tiber quay, where Nunzia attacks. Alessia is shot and asks Enzo to use his powers for good before she dies. Gipsy is shot multiple times, then burned alive by Nunzia with a flamethrower and apparently dies in the Tiber. The next day, he emerges from the river, scarred and burned but with superpowers like Enzo. He goes to Naples and films himself as he kills Nunzia and her gang.

While wandering alone, Enzo saves a woman and her daughter from a burning car. Enzo sees a video on television where Gipsy threatens to bomb the Stadio Olimpico. Enzo finds and confronts Gipsy but is unable to defuse the bomb. Enzo grabs it and jumps into the Tiber from the Musica-Armando Trovajoli bridge with Gipsy, who is killed in the explosion. Enzo, now thought dead and exalted as a hero, watches over Rome from the Colosseum and, determined to protect the city, puts on a Jeeg mask Alessia knitted for him.



They Call Me Jeeg received positive reviews from critics, who praised Santamaria, Marinelli, and Pastorelli's performances, the screenplay, and the "township" setting.[9] MoviePlayer gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5, calling it "a triumph of pure cinema, writing, acting, ability to stage and productive obstinacy".[10] Film critic Massimo Bertarelli [it] called it "a masterpiece, to watch at all costs [...] full of fun", praising Santamaria, Marinelli, and Pastorelli's performances.[11] Jay Weissberg from Variety praised the film, calling it "surprisingly gritty and thoroughly enjoyable".[2] After its U.S. release, the film received a 75% score on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 12 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10.[12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award/Festival Category Recipients Result
2015 International Rome Film Festival BNL People's Choice Award Gabriele Mainetti Nominated
2016 61st David di Donatello[13] Best New Director Gabriele Mainetti Won
Best Producer Gabriele Mainetti Won
Best Screenplay Nicola Guaglianone, Menotti Nominated
Best Actress Ilenia Pastorelli Won
Best Actor Claudio Santamaria Won
Best Supporting Actress Antonia Truppo Won
Best Supporting Actor Luca Marinelli Won
Best Cinematography Michele D'Attanasio Nominated
Best Score Gabriele Mainetti, Michele Braga Nominated
Best Sets and Decorations Massimiliano Sturiale Nominated
Best Costumes Mary Montalto Nominated
Best Make-Up Giulio Pezza Nominated
Best Hair Design Angela Vannella Nominated
Best Editing Andrea Maguolo Won
Best Sound Valentino Giannì Nominated
Best Visual Effects Chromatica Nominated
Mercedes-Benz Future Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
Bari International Film Festival Ettore Scola Award for Best New Director Gabriele Mainetti Won
Amsterdam Imagine Film Festival Silver Scream Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
Seattle International Film Festival Best Film Award Gabriele Mainetti Nominated
71st Nastri d'Argento[14] Best New Director Gabriele Mainetti Won
Best Producer Gabriele Mainetti, Goon Films and Rai Cinema Nominated
Best Actor Claudio Santamaria Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Luca Marinelli Won
Best Script Nicola Guaglianone e Menotti Nominated
Best Cinematography Michele D'Attanasio Nominated
Best Scenography Massimiliano Sturiale Nominated
Best Costumes Mary Montalto Nominated
Best Score Gabriele Mainetti and Michele Braga Nominated
Hamilton behind the camera Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
56th Italian Golden Globes Best Film Gabriele Mainetti Won
Best First Feature Gabriele Mainetti Nominated
Best Actor Claudio Santamaria Nominated
Best Actress Ilenia Pastorelli Nominated
Italian Contemporary Film Festival[15] Toronto Film Critics Association's Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
Giffoni Film Festival[16] Giffoni Experience Award Claudio Santamaria Won
Ischia Film Festival[17][18] Italian Worldwide Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
73rd Venice International Film Festival[19][20] Starlight Award for Best Directorial Debut Gabriele Mainetti Won
Starlight Award for Best Actor Claudio Santamaria Won
Kinèo and RAI Com Award for Best Italian foreign release Gabriele Mainetti Won
Kinèo and Best Movie Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
Kinèo Award for Best Actor Claudio Santamaria Won


A comic book based on the film, produced by Lucky Red and La Gazzetta dello Sport, was published in 2016. The comic book is written by Roberto Recchioni, drawn by Giorgio Pontrelli and Stefano Simeone, and with the cover arts by Giacomo Bevilacqua, Leo Ortolani and Zerocalcare, and it takes place after the events of the movie.[21]

Malayalam movie Minnal Murali is inspired by the film.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "They Call Me Jeeg". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Weissberg, Jay (5 November 2015). "Film Review: 'They Call Me Jeeg'". Variety. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  3. ^ Montini, Franco (17 October 2015). "Al Festival del Cinema Santamaria il supereroe 'Jeeg Robot'". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Jeeg Robot: il mito degli Anime che ha ispirato il primo supereroe italiano". 21 February 2016. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Sette film per l'Oscar straniero. Il 26/9 si sa quale è il titolo italiano in corsa". Spettacoli - La Repubblica (in Italian). 16 September 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  6. ^ Ugolini, Chiara (26 September 2016). "I migranti di 'Fuocoammare' in corsa per gli Oscar". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  7. ^ Frater, Patrick (10 May 2016). "Uncork'd Makes Switch From Genre to Foreign-Language Distribution". Variety. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  8. ^[dead link]
  9. ^ "5 buoni motivi per andare a vedere al cinema "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot"". Wired (in Italian). 6 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot - Film (2015)". (in Italian).
  11. ^ Bertarelli, Massimo (6 March 2016). "I film in uscita visti da Bertarelli: "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot? Piccolo capolavoro, da vedere a tutti i costi". Il Fatto Quotidiano (in Italian).
  12. ^ "They Call Me Jeeg". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  13. ^ "Accademia del Cinema Italiano - Premi David di Donatello".
  14. ^ "Opere prime e seconde - Il premio Ettore Scola a Gabriele Mainetti". 8 April 2016. Archived from the original on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  15. ^ "ICFF TORONTO - Premiati Cardilnale, Bova e Iervolino -". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Claudio Santamaria al Giffoni 2016, successo in "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot". Un sequel?". 23 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Ischia Global Fest".
  18. ^ "L'Italian Worldwide Award 2016 va a Scamarcio e Mainetti". Globalist.
  19. ^ "Ecco i premiati Kineo 2016! - Kineo".
  20. ^ "Starlight Cinema Award, tutti i premiati".
  21. ^ "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot: ora è anche fumetto!". Best Movie. 26 January 2016.

External links[edit]