Saturday, December 22, 2012

#859. 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)

Directed By: Enzo G. Castellari

Starring: Mark Gregory, Vic Morrow, Fred Williamson

Tag line: "A Heavy Metal Journey Into An Urban Hell Where Everything Was Done Wrong!

Trivia: Vic Morrow's last completed performance before his unfortunate on-set death while filming 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie

Directed by Enzo Castellari, 1990: The Bronx Warriors combines aspects of Escape from New York (a dystopian future in which a portion of New York has been turned over to criminals) with Walter Hill’s The Warriors (by way of its flamboyant gangs, vying for control of the borough). And in spite of a few rough spots, 1990: The Bronx Warriors does a fine enough job blending the two.

The year is 1990, and the Bronx, one of the 5 boroughs of New York City, has become a breeding ground for criminals and lowlifes. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that the authorities have given up on restoring law and order, essentially turning the entire area over to the gangs roaming its streets. Things get a bit complicated, however, when Anne (Stefania Giorlami Goodwin), a young girl in line to become the next President of the world’s largest arms manufacturer, decides to abandon her life of privilege and seeks refuge in the Bronx. Shortly after her arrival, Anne is attacked by a gang calling themselves The Zombies, then saved at the last minute by a biker named Trash (Mark Gregory), the leader of a rival gang known as The Riders. Trash takes it upon himself to watch over Anne, but when the Corporation hires Hammer (Vic Morrow), a vicious bounty hunter, to go in and retrieve her, it could spell the end for both Trash and The Riders.

1990: The Bronx Warriors has a few things going for it. First off, it was shot on-location in New York, which added to the film's overall grittiness, and even though the production lacked the funds to shut down an entire city block while they were shooting (meaning we sometimes see traffic flowing normally in the background), it doesn't really matter… New York is New York, and brings with it a flavor all its own. The supporting cast is also a plus, and features a couple of legendary performers. Fred Williamson is smooth as Ogre, a gang leader with a whole lot of flash, and when it came to playing bad-ass pricks, few were better than Vic Morrow, who’s menacing enough as Hammer to raise the tension several notches whenever he’s on-screen.

And it’s a good thing 1990: The Bronx Warriors had Williamson and Morrow, too, because Gregory is downright awful as Trash. Actually, I’d go so far as to say he’s the single worst cinematic gang leader I’ve ever seen, from his stone-faced delivery of each and every line to the awkward way he struts around, looking as if he’s suffering from a perpetually stiff back. Along with its terrible lead performance, 1990: The Bronx Warriors also has a handful of lackluster fight scenes; the opening confrontation between the Riders and the Zombies feels more like a practice exercise than a battle.

Still, even with its flaws, 1990: The Bronx Warriors is a lot of fun, and when it comes to low-budget post-apocalyptic fare such as this, that’s really all you can ask for!

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