1990: Bronx Warriors (1983)
1990: Bronx Warriors (1983)

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.

Release Date: April 22nd, 1983 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Enzo G. Castellari Actors: Vic Morrow, Mark Gregory, Stefania Girolami, Fred Williamson, Christopher Connelly, George Eastman, John Loffredo, Betty Dessy, Massimo Vanni

 


 

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ffluent yet rebellious Ann (Stefania Girolami) is on the run, fleeing from her school and her overbearing father, the President of the Manhattan Corporation, which controls over 60% of the world’s arms manufacturing. When she purposely wanders into the Bronx, a “no man’s land” of gangs and crime, where the authorities have long given up attempts at law and order, relinquishing the area to the “Riders” – a territorial biker group – there’s seemingly no hope for her survival. “Contact Hammer for me,” commands Ann’s father, recruiting the help of one of the underworld’s most ruthless Bronx hitmen (who is also a cop) to track down the missing woman.

“Nothing is worse than this hellhole.” Fortunately for her, Trash (Mark Gregory), the baby-faced leader of the Riders, is an unusually decent brute. Before the Hammer can discover Ann’s whereabouts, Trash comes across the girl, rescuing her from a crew of hockey-stick-wielding skaters (the Zombies). The next day, Trash discovers the body of Chris, a slain comrade – killed at the hands of the “Ogre” (Fred Williamson), the leader of a rival gang of pimp-like, flamboyantly-suited men (called the Tigers) – which nearly shatters a shaky truce between the bitter Bronx brawlers. Was it a set-up? Or was their man a double-crossing spy?

“The Warriors” played an obvious inspiration for this Italian, post-apocalyptic, semi-futuristic, gangland mash-up (a spaghetti biker movie), wherein anarchic adolescents engage in regular melees with adversaries and the police. “Mad Max” and “Escape from New York” are also clear contributors to the vision of this exploitation epic, while it also steals a set and costume design or two from “A Clockwork Orange” and “From Russia with Love.” The overall look of the film isn’t too shabby (save for flamethrower tanks made from trash cans), though many of the ideas don’t quite fit with the morbidity of the Bronx’s lawlessness. A tap-dancing gang – fighting in rhythm and adorned with colorful face paint – is one of the oddest inclusions, along with nomadic, tattered, dusty killers (something along the lines of the Tusken Raiders from “Star Wars”). But Vic Morrow as Hammer the Exterminator is certainly the best, as he plays his part with the utmost sincerity, going so far as to relish, quite convincingly, in his sadistic tendencies (even if his speech about nihilism and his unyielding war-cackle are unintentionally silly). “No survivors!”

“Death rides and sleeps with us.” The dialogue is cheesy and tends to over-explain everything, perhaps due to the dubbing and the fear of international audiences not understanding things; the premise is simplistic and, at times, poorly designed, such as when the Ogre teams up with Trash, but only brings his main girl, Witch (Betty Dessy), along for help in a dangerous war zone; the violence is frequent yet accidentally humorous, such as when a thug is decapitated; and a man on a drum kit jams furiously in the middle of an abandoned lot, for no apparent reason other than to generate tension for a pending clash (and for brief, artistic panache). Plus, the picture inexplicably shifts between overdramatic moments (like that of a ritualistic funeral pyre and the spreading of ashes), time-wasting segues that depict little more than the drive from one location to the next (or just long pauses without spoken words), and timid sarcasm – which doesn’t quite work in an environment meant to be chaotic and hostile. Strangely, background music is absent during the fight sequences, which is detrimental to their effectiveness; when the kung fu is noticeably bad, something has to supplement the ineffective choreography. At least the finale is a bigger, bloodier bash, though it concludes with astonishingly mild satisfaction.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10