In anticipation of our screening of Bronx Warriors on Monday the 1st, November at the Mucky Pup in Islington, we present to you a little write up -
A suspiciously well-groomed man and his leather waistcoat lead a crew of rough diamonds across near-future New York City, battling gangs with outlandish, but strict, dress codes. Meanwhile the authorities decide that a maverick sociopath is their best hope and send him into lawless near-future New York City on a rescue mission. Sound familiar? It should.
1990: The Bronx Warriors (aka 1990: I guerrieri del Bronx) is part of the proud tradition of Italian cheekily-similar-to-a-recent-blockbuster Cinema.
Back in the heady post-Jaws, pre-multiplex, late 70s/ early 80s, anything was possible. Given a low enough budget and a quick, thrifty, plagiarism-schmlagarism, approach to film-making, knocking out a film with a similar title and theme to a recent box-office smash could turn a profit. The Italians seemed particularly adept at this: Producing spurious classics such as the bogus space opera Starcrash, the Conan-a-like Gor and the Escape From New York/ The Warriors mash-up we are discussing today. Whilst primarily designed to sneak a bit of reflected publicity and dupe the occasional sucker into the wrong cinema, these pictures are more than just flim-flam. While the cinema-goer may not be watching the film he thought he was, he still expects a solid 90 minutes of entertainment. Here is where The Bronx Warriors delivers.
A well-to-do heiress runs away from her responsibilities, as the future head of an evil arms corporation, into the dark concrete jungle that is the Bronx. Now abandoned by the law and one big turf-war. Her life of privilege has left her unequipped to cope with the rigours of living in the Bronx. Luckily she wins the heart of Trash, the leader of some rough-and-tumble yet noble bikers who enjoy gang-fights and decorating their vehicles with Halloween tat, and they take on the world together. Evil Inc. cannot understand why she'd chose the free wheelin' life of an outlaw over selling arms. They send in Hammer, a particularly evil man, who, while chewing on hyper-macho tough guy dialogue, sneaks around trying to escalate the simmering tensions between the gangs into all out all-out warfare. And then it really kicks off... cue battling street-thugs, shaky alliances, betrayal, love, loss, "You fuck! It could be a pile of shit from someone's asshole!", "Shut up, fag-face" are among just some of the beautifully crude exchanges. All the while, set to a futuristic score by Walter Rizatti which mixes the usual 80s action synth score with panpipes, church organ and a choir to great effect.
The film is made up primarily of unknowns and peppered with a couple of more familiar faces. Our hero, Trash is played by Mark Watson, a man director Enzo G. Castellari spotted working out at his local gym. With the well muscled, smooth body of a Tekken character bearing the grumpy head of an teenage metal head, Mark Watson was an unusual choice to play the leader of a bunch of grizzled future-bikers (many played by genuine motorcycle gang members) and his incongruous presence adds to the fun. Brawny veteran bad-ass Fred Williamson delivers his role as Ogre, the self proclaimed King Of The Bronx (NOT the Duke Of New York, totally different), with gusto and sports the most awesome moustache in a career full of awesome moustache-having. Vic Morrow, in his last role before being tragically killed on the set of The Twilight Zone movie, takes a similarly lusty approach to the cruel, murderous, law man Hammer.
Fans of spotting the cracks in movies will have a ball with this one: including such delights as an unexplained drummer, drumming away, during a meet between rival factions, a spectacularly non-threatening tap-dance gang, and clearly visible traffic in a supposedly abandoned wasteland. Some may jeer at this film's flaws. but I ask them this: Name me a film, where when one half of a shaky alliance turned to another and said "I've got a surprise planned for you", right at the point when a betrayal would make total dramatic sense, have you been genuinely surprised by the outcome? This unashamedly exploitative movie surprised me, skip-back-a-chapter-on-the-DVD-because-I-couldn't-believe-what-I-saw surprised me.
Wilfully unoriginal, but a blast to watch, 1990: The Bronx Warriors is, to quote eccentric-cinema.com, "The fake real thing."
Buy Bronx Warriors from Shameless Screen Entertainment here
Many thanks to Shameless for allowing us to screen Bronx Warriors.