Monday, April 4, 2011

1990: Bronx Warriors (1982) and Escape From the Bronx (1983)

Like many Italian genre directors of the time, Enzo G. Castellari dabbled in many genres. Among them were Spaghetti Westerns ("Keoma"), Fantasy ("Sinbad of the Seven Seas"), Crime and Police films ("The Heroin Busters", "Street Law"), War epics ("The Inglorious Bastards"-not related to that other movie) and even Giallo films ("House by the Edge of the Lake.") Oh, and of course, rip offs of other, better titles. The likes of "Jaws" ("Great White") and the "Mad Max" movies ("The New Barbarians") weren't safe, and as "1990: Bronx Warriors" and it's sequel "Escape From the Bronx" show us, not even "The Warriors" and "Escape From New York" were safe.

"1990" deals with a Post Apocalyptic New York (well, it just looks like the Bronx-so yeah, it looks Post Apocalyptic) in which many gangs rule the streets for survival. One in which is run by Trash (Marc Gregory), who finds Ann (Stefania Girolami Goodwin), who happens to be the daughter of a corporate leader. Well, she ends up getting kidnapped, so Trash ends up bringing some of his men with him, as well as finding help from Ogre (Fred "The Hammer" Williamson.) However, there's a snake in the grass in Ice (Josh Sinclair), and to make matters worse, an insane, nihilistic assassin named Hammer (Vic Marrow), is after Gregory and Ann, and will stop at nothing.

If there's any problems I had with the movie, it's Goodwin and Gregory. Goodwin delivers her lines as if she's on Xanax, and Gregory isn't that convincing as a bad ass hero. In fact, I think he and his gang spend more time getting their asses handed to them than the other way around. Also, maybe it's just me, but this movie didn't really go as far as it could have. Sure, there's some bloody action, but it's too far and in between at times, and the lack of female nudity also hinders it.

On the plus side, the other performances are good, with Marrow clearly having a blast as Hammer, and Williamson being his regular bad self doing his thing. The direction is also fine, as are the action scenes (though you have to wait for those at times.) I especially dug the score by Walter Rizzati, which really brings the thing to life. So, like many movies of this kind, it's kinda dull, but it's the little things that make it worth a rental.

The same can't be said for it's sequel, "Escape From the Bronx", which was rightfully ripped apart by the guys from "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (under the title "Escape 2000.") Taking place 10 years after the events of "1990", this sees Gregory returning as Trash. Here, the evil Manhattan Corporation wants to all the gangs to New Mexico. Cut lots of guys in silver outfits and shit blowing up.

I will give the movie this much: Gregory is better here. He's not a good actor mind you, but he's a more convincing bad ass this time around. Apart from that, there's nothing that really stand out in this movie. The action is monotonous, as you can only see things blow up for so long. There's also no serious identity here. While the previous movie had little original going on, it at least managed to offer a few moments in which it felt like it's own movie. This movie is just painfully boring, as even the action scenes and score by Francesco De Masi failed to keep my interest.

So in closing, these aren't really good movies. However, indiscriminate exploitation and action fans might like the first one, though the second is only worth watching with Mike and the Bots tearing it apart.


1990: Bronx Warriors 5.5/10
Escape From the Bronx 1/10

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