Sunday, June 7, 2015

1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS (1982)

1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS (1982) 

Label: Blue Underground
Release Date: June 30th 2015 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 92 Minutes
Rating: R
Audio: English DTS-HD Mono, Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English SDH Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Cast: Vic Morrow, Christopher Connelly, Fred Williamson, Mark Gregory, Stefania Girolami, George Eastman, Massimo Vanni


I can just imagine director Enzo G. Castellari (THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS) walking out of a double-feature of THE WARRIORS and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and putting in a phone call to producer Fabrizio De Angelis just a few moments minutes later announcing he had a great idea for a film. Surely, this must have been the birth of 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS, a low budget Italian knock-off that gleefully exploits both of those aforementioned slices of cult cinema. 

In the futuristic year of 1990 the Bronx has been declared a No Man's Land, which in 1982 probably didn't seem that far fetched to be honest. Various gangs have declared territories throughout the Burroughs, with the controlling gangs seems to be a group of motorcycle toughs known as the Riders, whom are lead by the dark-maned Trash (Marc Gregory, ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX). While on patrol they encounter a rival gang named the Zombies who are harassing a young woman named Ann (Stefania Girolami)). The Zombies are a group of roller-skating weirdos whom wear cartoonish outfits and carry metal hockey sticks as weaponry, exactly like a zombie... uh-huh. Anyway, the Riders make mince-meat of the Zombies and Anne becomes an honorary member of the gang. 


Anne's backstory goes as such, she's the daughter of the President of the Manhattan Corporation, and is set to inherit the multi-billion dollar arms manufacturer on her eighteenth birthday. However, she is turned off by the corruption f the corporation and flees Manhattan for the Bronx to live with the scum. Her father enlists the help of a mercenary named The Hammer, played by veteran actor Vic Morrow, in his last finished film prior his tragic death on the set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. So far we have various costumed gangs and the daughter of a president in a bad part of town, you can taste the influences coming together here already. 

For a film that borrows so freely from other (better) movies it manages to become overly convoluted with a mish-mash of ideas and a poorly conceived tragic romance, Anne and Trash have zero chemistry onscreen and when they try to push that arc it goes nowhere fast. So we have Hammer who begins as every bad ass character who comes onto the scene dressed as a postman with cool shades carrying a deadly package, infiltrating the territory of the Riders where he murders two members of the gang before planting evidence meant to implicate rival gang the Tigers of the crime. The Tigers are lead by the Ogre (Fred Williamson) and dress dapper while cruising around in vintage cars. It made me laugh that Fred "The Hammer" Williamson was in a movie with a character named Hammer and it was not him, I imagine that might have drove him crazy.



Anyway, back to the convoluted storyline we have the Hammer joining forces with a devious semi-truck driver named Hot Dog (Christopher Connelly, MANHATTAN BABY) and Trash's turn-coat second in command, the power-hungry Ice (John Sinclair). When Anne is kidnapped by the Zombies on behalf of the Hammer. Now Trash must journey to the far side of the Bronx and through the different gang territories to seek the aid of the Ogre in returning Anne. During the journey he must face-off against primitive subterraneans and a group of vicious of tap-dancers in what appears to be Ultimate Warrior make-up. None of these manage to measure up to the Baseball Furies from The Warriors but you can see what they're going for here, each gang having their own wacky costumes and identity, none of which manage to come across as scary or intimidating. As the movie comes to a close we build-up to the Riders teaming-up with the Tiger's versus the mutual rival the Zombies and the death squad sent by the Manhattan Corporation lead by the now inexplicably maniacal Hammer, who was once a cool-cucumber of a bad ass with a plan but now just goes completely over-the-top cackling like a madman during the siege, thought we'd get something a bit more from him, but nope. 

Director Enzo G. Castellari could definitely stretch a dollar and get the most bang for his Italian financiers buck, and it shows with Bronx Warriors, shot partially on location in the Bronx it does have a somewhat post-apocalyptic feel about it, if you;re able to suspend disbelief and ignore the traffic in the background in nearly every scene. Castellari enlisted the NYC chapter of the notorious biker gang the Hell's Angels as stand-ins for the Riders and I have to wonder what the set was like and what they thought of the wooden Marc Gregory as the character of Trash. Gregory had a great physique but it was more the body of a dancer than a street-tough, the way he carried himself reminded me of the re-animated Patty Mullen from Frank Henenlotter's FRANKENHOOKER. His movement was uncomfortable and unnatural and he comes across slightly effeminate to me, seems a strange choice for the role, though I will say he is slightly better in the sequel. 
Probably not a surprise to anyone familiar with Italian exploitation but the dialogue is awful, it is crammed with deliciously awkard English-dubbing which for someone like myself who can appreciate an entertainingly awful movie is a lot of fun. 


In regard to the action sequences Castellari rarely disappointed and crammed the film with good action moments to get the blood pumping, the finale is particularly effective. There's a nice array of weaponry on display, each gang have their own weapon of choice, the Riders have a club-spear, the Zombies have the metal hockey sticks and Trash elbow-spikes are awesome. One of the motorcycles has a set of blades that pop-up from the front wheel which enables the rider to take out two enemies at once, cool stuff. Fred Williamson as the superbly moustached Ogre wears sweet satin shirts and carries a cane, loved his character but I wanted more scenes with him. I was not pleased with how easily his character was dispatched, though he does get a decent death scene with some gravitas, only further proving how cool he was. 

The film goes out in spectacular fashion with the Manhattan Corp. death squad arriving in riot gear on horseback with an arsenal of machine guns and flame-throwers. I loved the very simple effect they used of shielding the actors behind plated of glass and then blasting a real flame-thrower in their direction. The reverse point-of-view shots of the flames is cheap and effective.


1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS is a knock-off and a mish-mash of ideas but at least it's a fun knock-off. The plot might be overwrought but Castellari keeps the momentum moving forward with enough cheap action onscreen to merit a watch. Compared to something like EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000 this was a pretty spectacular slice of Italian exploitation with good production value, not every Italian knock-off can make such a boast, but Castellari had high standards and wrung every ounce of value he could muster from the anemic budget provided to put more bang onscreen. 

Audio/Video: 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground with a new HD transfer that is very pleasing on the eyes, colors are vibrant with some decent depth and clarity with a surprising amount of fine detail evident throughout. Cinematographer Sergio Salvati (THE BEYOND) did the lensing on this one, he makes the most of the dilapidated building and subterranean settings, and the transfer does it justice. The Englisg language DTS-HD MA Mono audio as solid as the dubbing will allow, with well-balanced dialogue and score, English subtitles are provided, because you do not want to miss out any of these verbal nuggets. 



Onto the extras we have a brand-new audio commentary with the director and Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis In Conversation Part 1 with the director and producer reminiscing about how they came to work together with Castellari turning down the chance to direct ZOMBI 2, which went on to be directed by Lucio Fulci. They also speak about shooting in te Bronx and what it was like working with Vic Morrow and Marc Gregory, both speaking about how the actor has slipped into obscurity. There's also a featurette with Castellari visiting the Italian Weapons Rental House of Paolo Ricci where he sourced many of his movie weapons from, displaying guns, knives and flamethrowers. Additionally there is an interview with Actor/Stuntman Massimo Vanni who speaks about his career with the director and visiting the US for the first time during the filming of this one. 

Special Features: 

- Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Enzo G. Castellari
- Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis In Conversation Part 1 (14 Mins) HD
- Sourcing The Weaponry - Enzo G. Castellari visits the Italian Weapons Rental House of Paolo Ricci (12 Mins) HD
- Adventures In The Bronx - Interview with Actor/Stuntman Massimo Vanni (7 Mins) HD
- Italian Trailer (3 Mins) HD 

- International Trailer (3 Mins) HD 
- The New Barbarians Trailer (3 Mins) HD 
- Escape from the Brox Trailer (3 Mins) HD
- Poster and Still Gallery


Blue Underground have done a great job with the transfer and a putting together a bunch of new extras for 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS. They're also releasing the sequel ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX (1983) and the ROAD WARRIOR knock-off THE NEW BARBARIANS (1983) on the same day, if you are a trash-cinema enthusiast with a predilection for Italian post-apocalyptic knock-offs then mark June 30th on your calender, it's gonna be a glorious day.  3/5


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