Italian futuristic action-schlock sequel. New York City is undergoing a major facelift, and the GC Corporation, the company behind the revamp, wants to oust the 'rats' in the Bronx and move them to the new city. Only their operation, led by cantankerous ex-prison warden Wrangler (Henry Silva), uses a bit of unnecessary force and the warriors aren't happy about it. So, with the help of underground warrior Strike (Giancarlo Prete), they decide to kidnap the President of GC so that they'll stop the operation.
"And the GC Corporation sucks!"
What is a filmmaker to do with left over prop guns, squibs, blood packs, pneumatic catapults, gore effects, zany costumes and about $20 and change? Make a sequel to a previous hit, thats what! Enzo G. Castellari returns to direct and co-write alongside Tito Carpi for this sequel to '1990: The Bronx Warriors' titled 'Escape From The Bronx.' Returning in the lead role as Trash is a much more confident and dynamic Mark Gregory along with numerous familiar looking faces from Castellari's stable of actors. The results are a bit mixed, but no less fun.
Not long after the violent resolution of '1990: The Bronx Warriors,' New York looks to reclaim the Bronx under the stewardship of visionary mega billionaire Henry Clark (Ennio Girolami) and his GC Corporation. Thing OCP but without the intention of building a RoboCop. Mr. Clark envisions turning the wasteland of the Bronx into the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by completely rebuilding the dilapidated borough. But in order to achieve his goals, he's going to have to start building from the ground up, and that means removing a few pesky pedestrians who call the rundown buildings "home."
To the press Mr. Clark says he's offering people full compensation and providing them new housing in New Mexico. In reality, he's hired the most ruthless genocidal killer on the planet, Floyd Wrangler (Henry Silva) and his Disinfestation Squads to beat, burn, and murder anyone who doesn't leave. Standing in the way is Trash (Mark Gregory) who runs things topside smuggling guns and ammunition for the gangs living underground if he isn't too busy shooting down attack helicopters with his six shot snub-nosed Smith and Wesson .38 Special. Underground belongs to the eccentric maniac Dablone (Antonio Sabato). Dablone has built a sort of sanctuary for the gangs so they can avoid the Disinfestation Squads with the idea that one day they will rise up like the phoenix and retake the Bronx for themselves.
After Trash's parents are burned alive for not leaving their home, Trash unites the topside gang remnants and wages war against the Wrangler and the Disinfestation Squads. Meanwhile in Manhattan, an intrepid reporter named Moon Grey (Valeria D'Obici) and her loyal photographer put pressure on the GC Corporation by exposing their crimes against humanity. In order to ensure the safety and security of the Bronx, Moon, Trash and Dablone concoct a plan to force the GC Corporation and Wrangler's Disinfestation Squads to negotiate - they plan to kidnap Mr. Clark. In order to get the job done right, they're going to need Strike (Giancarlo Prete) and his little demolitions expert son Junior (Alessandro Prete). Together they must traverse the maze of tunnels underneath New York which are filled with traps, dead ends, and teaming with Disinfestation Squads in order to save the Bronx and keep it in the hands of the gangs.
If ever there was a film that could stand as a showcase of how much can be done with very little, I think 'Escape From The Bronx' is a pretty strong candidate. This one is quite possibly the cheapest produced Enzo G. Castellari film of the three being released by Blue Underground. Everything feels recycled here, the costumes, the weapons, all of the stunt work, the moon suits the Disinfestation Squad members wear, even Henry Silva's costume is the same one worn by Vic Morrow at the end of '1990: The Bronx Warriors' only now it has silver oven mitts glued to the shoulders. To say the story or the script is a bit lacking would be a slight understatement. If there weren't so many slow-motion flamethrower deaths, I've got a feeling this movie would be about forty minutes long. But that's okay - this movie is crazy great fun.
Granted we don't get another appearance from Fred Williamson with this one, but we do get a spastic Antonio Sabato and a screaming Henri Silva! Every time these two are on screen, the movie just becomes unintentionally hilarious but no less lovable. Mark Gregory is back and with a little more age and the previous 'Bronx' film under his belt, he feels much more at home with the character offering real leading man presence while still maintaining an incredible head of hair. How he wasn't hired for Pantene commercials after this film is beyond me, talk about a missed opportunity. Also fun is seeing Ennio Girolami in yet another role while being dubbed by a completely different person. Seeing as how he is Castellari's brother, his presence just makes the whole venture feel like a wild family film with a budget.
Since strong story and performances aren't film elements one should aim to find with 'Escape From The Bronx,' new audiences should buckle up and just enjoy the onscreen mayhem in all it's flaming slow-motion glory. You could almost make a drinking game out of the number of people get killed by explosions and are then flung into the air thirty feet - although I would encourage you to use water or fruit juice, I lost count somewhere around 55 (no joke). For fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, this movie may seem a bit familiar. I don't know the circumstances surrounding this, but apparently at some point in time this movie was retitled and released as 'Escape 2000' - not to be confused with the incredible Steve Railsback movie from 1982. Whether you watch it riffed by Mike and the Bots or not, 'Escape From The Bronx' is just good fun. It may not be as strong as Casterllari's previous two films, but it's solid in of itself.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Blue Underground brings 'Escape From The Bronx' to Blu-ray pressed on an all regions BD25 disc. Along with the Blu-ray is a an identical DVD offering the same bonus content in standard definition. Both discs are housed in a 2 disc Blu-ray case with reversible artwork listing the chapter stops through the transparent blue plastic. The Blu-ray opens to an animated main menu offering scenes and music from the film.
After '1990: The Bronx Warrior' and 'The New Barbarians' I had pretty high hopes for this one. Sadly, 'Escape From The Bronx' is a very problematic mixed bag with this 2.35:1 1080p transfer. This is one of those cases where you can actually see the film's slim budget. Numerous shots were clearly shot with dirty lenses making things look overly soft and in focus at the same time. It also appears that for many scenes the camera must have been placed at a distance and was optically zoomed in later as grain structure can look wildly different within a single shot. The front end of the film is probably the roughest looking as the later half actually looks pretty darn amazing. Because the grain structure is retained, detail levels are for the most part pretty okay. Close up shots look the best, middles and long distance shots are where the troubles hit home. Color is where this transfer actually earns a lot of credit. Primaries have a lot of nice presence to them, especially blues and reds allowing for solid flesh tones and fire has never looked better! Black levels are a bit touch and go at times, for the most part they're good, but some scenes can get hit pretty hard by crush. Comparing this Blu-ray to the included DVD, the HD image is much better and since this is a more recent scan, I can only assume that it's an improvement over previous home video releases, but there is a part of me that wishes it looked just as good as the other Casterllari pictures. It's alright, but it didn't blow my hair back.
Thankfully the DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track for 'Escape From The Bronx' is absolutely knock your socks off sonically amazing! It has that familiar vibe as the other Casterllari films, but something about this one pops in all the best ways. The score by Francessco De Masi is cheesy and amazing and comes through with fantastic clarity. Like '1990: The Bronx Warriors' and 'The New Barbarians' sound effects get a ton of presence allowing explosions to blast your sound system to great effect. Dialogue comes through just fine, which is to be expected since everyone was dubbed over in post production. Imaging is again stymied a bit due to it being a mono track, but as bullets fly and explosions rock the screen, there is just enough sense of atmosphere and direction that it keeps the track from feeling flat or lifeless.
Audio Commentary: Co-Writer and Director Enzo G. Castellari and Enzo's son Andrea Castellari with David Gregory moderating - just as much fun and just as informative as the previous commentaries. You can help but love it when Castellari is laughing at the same things you are.
Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis in Conversation Part 3: (HD 13:16) Picking up where Part 2 left off found on the disc for 'The New Barbarians' - there is so much to learn in these packed 13 minutes. It's a lot of fun, but there is tons of information to take in.
The Hunt For Trash - Interview with Bronx Warriors Superfan Lance Manley: (HD 12:42) After the 'Bronx' films wrapped up, Mark Gregory did only a few more films and then virtually vanished off of the face of the earth making him the Big Foot of Italian exploitation cinema. Ultra fan Lance Manley built a website and made numerous attempts to find the reclusive former star.
International Trailer: (HD 3:15)
Italian Trailer: (HD 3:15)
1990: The Bronx Warriors Trailer: (HD 2:42)
The New Barbarians Trailer: (HD 3:25)
And with that, this little pseudo trilogy of films comes to a close. 'Escape From The Bronx' is a great piece of fun. It may not be as strong as '1990: The Bronx Warriors' or 'The New Barbarians' but it holds its own and offers a lot of great material to appreciate. I wish the video presentation for this Blu-ray had been as strong, but with amazing audio and another batch of entertaining and informative extras, I'm still calling this one highly recommended. How can you stop with the other two movies and not pick up this one? I wish these films had been released as a box set since they're all so perfect together. Grab some friends and have yourself an amazing Triple Feature event.