They Call Me Jeeg

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They Call Me Jeeg
Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot Poster Italia 01 mid.jpg
Italian theatrical poster
Directed byGabriele Mainetti
Produced byGabriele Mainetti [it]
Written byNicola Guaglianone
StarringClaudio Santamaria
Luca Marinelli
Ilenia Pastorelli
Music byMichele Braga
Gabriele Mainetti
CinematographyMichele D'Attanasio
Goon Films, Rai Cinema
Distributed byLucky Red (Italy)
Uncork’d Entertainment (USA)
Release date
Running time
112 minutes
LanguageItalian / Romanesco dialect
Budget€1.7 million
Box office€5.973.344[1]

They Call Me Jeeg (Italian: Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot) is a 2015 Italian sci-fi action film directed by Gabriele Mainetti [it] 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.

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 selected as the Italian entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards but it was not nominated.[5]

After a successful run in Italian theaters in 2016, the movie got a limited release in the US starting March 17, 2017 by Uncork’d Entertainment,[6][7] while as of July 2017 it is available on Netflix.


In a contemporary Rome stricken by a series of terrorist attacks, Enzo Ceccotti is a thief who lives in Rome's slum, Tor Bella Monaca. One day, he is chased by two policemen for stealing a wristwatch, and in order to escape from them he jumps into the Tiber. When Enzo tries to get out, he comes into contact with radioactive waste after he accidentally breaks a submerged barrel. Spending a night with a fever, vomiting, and cold chills, he wakes up in the morning totally healed, albeit with a persistent cough.

At this point, Enzo decides to sell the watch to Sergio, who works for Fabio Cannizzaro, known as "The Gipsy"; an unstable, crazy gangster with a hunger for fame and a psychopathic predilection for violence. Sergio ends up taking him on a job which is supposed to involve extracting cocaine from inside a pair of extra-communitarian drug mule brothers. While stopping at Sergio's home, Enzo meets his daughter Alessia, a girl with an apparent psychological disorder who escapes reality by continuously watching the Steel Jeeg anime and relating everything to it. When Sergio and Enzo take the drug smugglers to the top of a building under construction, one of them dies from an overdose due to a cocaine-containing egg breaking in his stomach. After Sergio refuses to take the overdosing brother to a hospital, the other brother grabs Sergio's gun and shoots Sergio. Sergio, before dying, is able to kill the brother, while Enzo falls from the building but incredibly 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 Enzo is nicknamed as a super-criminal by the press, although no one knows his true identity. Meanwhile, Gipsy discovers that Sergio has not returned with the cocaine yet, which the gang bought from a Camorra clan led by female boss Nunzia Lo Cosimo, the true author of the attacks in the city. Gipsy must get the cocaine back or pay Nunzia off, so he and his gang invade Sergio's place but only find his daughter Alessia. Enzo comes to her rescue by crushing Gipsy’s posse, and Alessia mistakes him for Hiroshi Shiba, the hero of Steel Jeeg.

Enzo, a reticent, socially isolated and withdrawn ex-felon who wants to lives in solitude, takes Alessia to a residential care home, where she had previously stayed while her father was in prison. Later, finding information written on a piece of paper hidden in Sergio's spectacle case, Enzo robs the valuable content of an armored truck; the same truck that Gipsy and his gang are about to assault in order to repay the Camorra clan. This increases the infamy of the mystery super-criminal, making Gipsy jealous. Shortly thereafter, two agents of law enforcement bring Alessia to Enzo's house, as they found her wandering on the highway, and Enzo finally decides to take care of her. At night, while Alessia and Enzo are watching a Steel Jeeg episode, Alessia experiences an emotional breakdown, revealing to Enzo that she had suffered sexual abuse in the past.

Gipsy's gang begins to crumble as his best soldier begins to question his leadership and insists that the gang resort to taking money from a local loan-shark in order to pay the debt to Nunzia. Gipsy, aspiring to be a famous and powerful crime boss and insulted by both his soldier's insolence and the thought of resorting to taking money from a loan-shark, responds by having the soldier mauled to death by his rottweilers. However, Gipsy himself nonetheless eventually borrows money from the loan-shark, a Brazilian transsexual named Marcellone. While meeting with Marcellone, Gipsy is attacked by Nunzia and her gang; in the ensuing clash, only Gipsy and Nunzia survive.

Alessia and Enzo become closer, and Enzo begins to develop feelings for her. However, when Enzo has sex with her in the dressing room of a clothes shop, Alessia is reminded of her traumatic past sexual abuse. She becomes angry with Enzo, and in an ensuing argument Enzo reveals to her the truth about her father's death. Alessia flees in anger and boards a trolley, but Enzo, having fallen in love with her, stops the trolley with his superhuman strength, apologizes, and takes Alessia away with him. This is filmed by the passengers, and the videos are seen by Gipsy, who discovers the identity of the famous super-criminal. With the rest of his gang having been killed by Nunzia and her men, the increasingly unhinged Gipsy and his assistant Tazzina kidnap Alessia and Enzo and threaten to kill the captive Alessia unless Enzo reveals how he obtained his powers. Enzo is forced to take Gipsy to the Tiber quay, but at that moment Nunzia arrives with her gang. In the subsequent gunfight Alessia is fatally shot and, in her last moments, asks Enzo to swear to use his powers for good and "save the people". Gipsy is burned alive by Nunzia with a flamethrower and falls into the Tiber waters, apparently dead. The next day, he emerges alive from the river, scarred and burned but with superpowers like Enzo. He goes to Naples and massacres Nunzia and all her gang, filming himself during the act and spreading the video on the web.

After Alessia's death, while wandering alone, Enzo witnesses a traffic accident involving a woman and her young daughter and manages to save the latter from the wreckage of the burning car. Later, Enzo sees Gipsy's video on the news. In the video, Gipsy threatens to set off a bomb in the Stadio Olimpico. Enzo finds Gipsy at the stadium and the two engage in battle. Unable to defuse the bomb however, Enzo grabs it and throws himself into the Tiber from the Musica-Armando Trovajoli bridge along with Gipsy, who is killed in the explosion.

Enzo, now considered dead and exalted as a hero, watches over Rome from the Colosseum and, now determined to protect the city, wears the Jeeg mask that Alessia had 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.[8] 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".[9] Film critic Massimo Bertarelli (it) called it "a masterpiece, to watch at all costs [...] full of fun", praising Santamaria, Marinelli, and Pastorelli's performances.[10] Jay Weissberg from Variety praised the film, calling it "surprisingly gritty and thoroughly enjoyable".[2] After its US release, the film received a 70% score on Rotten Tomatoes, based on ten reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10.[11]


Year Award/Festival Category Recipients Result
2015 International Rome Film Festival BNL People's Choice Award Gabriele Mainetti Nominated
2016 61st David di Donatello[12] 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[13] 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[14] Toronto Film Critics Association's Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
Giffoni Film Festival[15] Giffoni Experience Award Claudio Santamaria Won
Ischia Film Festival[16][17] Italian Worldwide Award Gabriele Mainetti Won
73rd Venice International Film Festival[18][19] 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.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Jay Weissberg (November 5, 2015). "Film Review: 'They Call Me Jeeg'". Variety. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  3. ^ Franco Montini (17 October 2015). "Al Festival del Cinema Santamaria il supereroe 'Jeeg Robot'". La Repubblica. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Jeeg Robot: il mito degli Anime che ha ispirato il primo supereroe italiano". February 21, 2016.
  5. ^ Redazione (26 September 2016). "Oscars: I migranti di 'Fuocoammare' in corsa per gli Oscar". La Repubblica. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  6. ^ Patrick Frater (10 May 2016). "Uncork'd Makes Switch From Genre to Foreign-Language Distribution". Variety. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "5 buoni motivi per andare a vedere al cinema "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot"". March 6, 2016.
  9. ^ MyMovies - They Call Me Jeeg
  10. ^ Massimo Bertarelli (March 6, 2016). "I film in uscita visti da Bertarelli: "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot? Piccolo capolavoro, da vedere a tutti i costi"".
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Opere prime e seconde - Il premio Ettore Scola a Gabriele Mainetti". April 8, 2016. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  14. ^ "ICFF TORONTO - Premiati Cardilnale, Bova e Iervolino -". Retrieved 2016-06-22.
  15. ^ "Claudio Santamaria al Giffoni 2016, successo in "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot". Un sequel?". 23 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Ischia Global Fest".
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Ecco i premiati Kineo 2016! - Kineo".
  19. ^ "Starlight Cinema Award, tutti i premiati".
  20. ^ "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot: ora è anche fumetto!". Best Movie. January 26, 2016.

External links[edit]