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1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/30/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/22/2015
I've written in the past about how, in the 1980s, Italian filmmakers were very, very influenced by popular American films, but I'm not sure if I made myself clear. I don't want to imply that the Italians didn't have any original ideas, because some did, but there's no denying that there are many movies from that period which are nearly carbon copies of hits from the United States, and even worse, they were marketed to confuse easily swayed filmgoers. (The ultimate example of this would be that after Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy, where it was called "Zombi", an unofficial sequel called "Zombi 2" was released.) Now, this leads us to the question, is it more creative or an even greater sin when someone rips off two American hits? Let's explore that idea with 1990: The Bronx Warriors.
The year is 1990. (Remember, this was released in 1982.) The Bronx is considered a "no man's land", which is ruled by gangs. Into this land comes Ann (Stefania Girolami), an heiress who is on the run from her family. She meets Trash (Mark Gregory) and is taken in by his gang, The Riders. The company looking for Ann sends Hammer (Vic Morrow) to find her, and his violent tactics soon have The Riders in an uproar. Meanwhile, Trash is attempting to navigate the other gangs in the area to ensure that Ann remains safe.
There's a difference between being "inspired by" and straight up copying something. 1990: The Bronx Warriors goes far beyond simply being enamored of American movies. The movie borrows liberally fromEscape from New York and The Warriors. We have a futuristic New York City setting in which the desolate landscape is ruled by criminals, here replacing the Manhattan of Escape from New York with The Bronx. The police force which is dispatched into the area in the third act is really reminiscent of that film. Oh, and did I mention that Ogre (Fred Williamson) rides in a motorcade not unlike The Duke from Escape From New York? But the movie will really feel familiar to those who have seen The Warriors. In that movie, a gang was forced to traverse New York while facing various other gangs that wore elaborate costumes. We get the exact same thing here, as The Riders encounter gangs dressed like flamboyant roller-skaters (is that intimidating?), Broadway dancers (wait, is that intimidating?), or zombies (I guess that is intimidating). Having "warriors" in the title was no accident.
As established earlier, plenty of Italian movies steal, so what makes 1990: The Bronx Warriors so different? The answer is that this movie stands out by how ineptly bad it is. When the movie was shot, Director Enzo G. Castellari had been making movies for nearly two decades, including Quentin Tarantino favoriteThe Inglorious Bastards. Yet, while watching the movie, one would assume that this was his first film. Let's start with the location shooting. Kudos to the movie for actually shooting in New York and including a good amount of footage of the Manhattan skyline. Here's the problem -- The story is purportedly set in a future where things have gotten out control, but in many, many shots we can see cars going over bridges and people going about their daily lives. This really pulls one out of the movie. Next, we have the costumes. I realize that this wasn't a big-budget movie, but the roller skaters and especially the Broadway dancers (or whatever they were supposed to be) look like rejects from an elementary school production. And then there is the dialogue and acting. Nothing which comes out of Morrow's mouth in the third act sounds like anything which an actual person would say. Add to this the typically wooden acting which we get with this kind of film, and you've got a lethal combination. Speaking of which, you know that the fight choreography is bad when you notice it like you do hear.
The early 80s were filled with cheap knock-offs, but there's something especially odd about 1990: The Bronx Warriors. Morrow and Williamson were definitely B-list (of lower) actors, but we have heard of them, so it's odd to see them in something this amateurish. (Both had worked with Castellari in the past.) It's clear that work went into scouting locations (while ignoring the background), arranging for motorcyclists and having someone make those costumes. But, the whole feels like it was thrown together and shot over a weekend. This isn't a so bad it's good movie, this is a so bad it's difficult to believe movie.
1990: The Bronx Warriors show why ice and hot dogs never mix on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Blue Underground. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. Once again, Bill Lustig and co. have done a fantastic job with the transfer. The image isn't pristine, but it looks damn good for a bargain-basement movie made over 30 years ago. It baffles me why BU can clean up movies so well, while other companies don't. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a very minute trace of grain and scant defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good, as the image is rarely soft and the depth is impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a mono track, we don't get any dynamic effects here, but neither does the audio sound flat. The speech is clear and never dominated by music or sound effects.
The 1990: The Bronx Warriors Blu-ray Disc contains a small assortment of extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Co-Writer/Director Enzo G. Castellari. "Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis in Conversation Part 1 (14 minutes) has the Director and Producer discussing how they came together and their work on 1990: Bronx Warriors. The take-away here is that Castellari was offered Zombi 2, but didn't want to do it because it was a "sequel" (so he did a movie which was a huge rip off of other movies). In "Sourcing the Weaponry: Enzo G. Castellari Visits the Italian Weapons Rental House of Paolo Ricci (12 minutes) the director is reunited with the props specialist and they examine some of the knives and guns from the movie. "Adventures in the Bronx - Interview with Actor/Stuntman Massimo Vanni" (7 minutes) has the actor who played Blade reminiscing about the movie and how he contributed to the casting process. We get the INTERNATIONAL TRAILER and the ITALIAN TRAILER for the film. The extras are rounded out by a POSTER & STILL GALLERY which has over 100 entries.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long