Sunday, September 2, 2012

1990: The Bronx Warriors


  Shamelessly mimicking movies like Escape From New York and The Warriors, this classic italian exploitation flick Bronx Warriors may not be as big budget and grand scale like the former, and not a classic like the latter... but it's sure as hell a fun time. It was absolutely worth my time and bandwidth.

  I had just suffered through another old 80's trashy flick called Hard Ticket to Hawaii, an Andy Sidaris movie, and was sorely disappointed. It was simply put: boring.  I needed something to wash the taste out of my mouth. All the painfully unfunny attempts at humor, didn't they know they sounded funny enough trying to play it straight? Anyways, I popped in this one and was right off the bat, super excited. Any funny bits in this one are entirely unintentional. Which is the way it should be. I wasted no time digging into the cool weapons, the leather jackets, the colorful gangs, and some actually well shot and cleverly staged scenes.

    There is one scene where all the 'Riders' pull their motorcycles up to this dock area by the water on this big empty dirt lot.  In the off-middle is a random guy tapping out a beat on a big full drum set.  The snappy and suspenseful beat sets the mood for the upcoming confrontation as a bunch of snazzy 40's looking hot-rod cars pull up, belonging to the 'Tigers' gang.  The man just sits there the whole time, riffing away on the drums. Is he a gang member? We don't know. Nobody seems to even notice him, which is kinda cool in a probably unintentionally meta way. 

  That was a real bright spot of the movie. It was unique and unexpected. Alot of the movie is very unexpected. Now, please, don't confuse unexpected with unpredictable. The plot and story are very predictable. It's not a bad story, in fact it's a decent set up for the action it contains.  The best compliment I can level at it, is to call it servicable.  What's unexpected is how it doesn't look as cheap as I predicted it would. They make great use of some really run down locations to evoke a very demilitarized feel.  It looks like they're really crawling through the ruins of big old buildings that could very well be inhabitted by a gang of freakish scavengers.  The scavengers themselves aren't that freakish, but they're effective. They all seem to carry an identical plank of wood, which just... is one of the hokier aspects of the flick.  But they ambush our heroes more than once, and they're quite ruthless.

  If you want something entirely dark and gritty, look elsewhere. The gangs here are colorful and very eighties.  The right viewer will eat it up and get lost in the movie, the wrong viewer will be taken out of it and probably laugh his way right off of it. Not many people still appreciate the appeal of roller skating, hockey stick wielding gang members. Who, by the way, wear nazi looking german-esque helmets. They're just one gang. There are a couple more. None quite so flamboyant, but still.  And speaking of looks, you'll have to get used to how awkward the protagonist looks in the jeans he wears. It's literally distracting at times.

   And whoever dubbed him sounds a bit odd at times too. But once you get past that, you can soak up all the hokey dialog and ocassionally wooden acting.  Fred Williamson and Vic Morrow are the acting talent highlights, though... Vic gets a sudden personality makeover for the climax, making him into a maniac with a god complex. Its the stuff which Raul Julia must've studied hard in order to play the role of the ridiculous M.Bison in Street Fighter.  Fortunately, Bronx Warriors is a much more creative and even keel movie than that one. Not to mention way more fun.

  The movie is about a young woman in New York, who's about to inherit a whole multi-billion dollar company, but for fear of becoming a corporate pawn she runs away to the Bronx. Which in the future of "1990" (movie was made in 1982) is a total demilitarized zone run entirely by cutthroat gangs.  Luckily! This woman is pretty looking. So, the 'ruthless' gang, the Riders, that rescue her from the roller skating thugs (oddly called 'the Zombies') doesn't hurt her OR rape her. Instead she becomes like... their groupie.  Officially she becomes their leader's 'girl' so if anyone touches her, they die. Anyways, the company's head honcho's send people to get her, mercenaries and such. Subsequently, more and more Riders are getting picked off one by one.

   So in order to prevent a full war or something like that, our hero, named 'Trash', the leader of the Riders has to cross the WHOLE Bronx to get to the 'King' who's the leader of the 'Tigers' and the most powerful cat on the scene apparently.  Trash's whole plan is to convince the king (Williamson) to band together with him in an alliance to stop the mercenary and rescue the girl who's been kidnapped again by the Zombies.  Yep.  Which is actually a pretty cool thing to see unfold.  It all builds to a pretty over the top finale as you might imagine.  It was very cool.

  Not much more I can say without spoiling the best stuff. The fights are good and intense. The movie is not boring at all.  It has a bunch of padding which could've been trimmed and replaced with more violence and shit, but overall, very cool flick. I'm trying to avoid calling it 'good', because the dialog and acting is spotty overall, as well as the story and the dubbing. But stylistically it stands on its own with lots of visually cool scenes and sets. Not bad and surprisingly entertaining.  Can't wait to see the sequel. I definitely recommend this one if you're hungry for some decent B-movie action.

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