Bronx Warriors Trilogy DVDs

Saturday, 28 November 2009 12:36

“The Bronx Warriors Trilogy” DVD box set is out now in the UK via Shameless Screen Entertainment, as an exclusive to HMV. This stunningly-presented box set includes all three riotous movies from the series. Fans of apocalyptic cult classics such as “Escape from New York”, “The Warriors”, “District 13” and the “Mad Max” trilogy will be right at home with this collection, directed by one of Quentin Tarantino’s heroes, Enzo G Castellari – who is co-incidentally also director of the original “The Inglorious Bastards”!

All three movies feature futuristic dystopias where violent gangs and outlaws rule the land. In “The Bronx Warriors”, motorcycle gangs roam the wasteland, vying for control of the Bronx after it is abandoned by the state. The daughter of a rich arms dealer finds herself in the middle of this hellish arena, and is then subject to a crazy rescue attempt by a ruthless mercenary hired by her father.

The Bronx Warriors Trilogy DVD

“Escape From The Bronx” catches up with events several years later. Business interests outside the district want to level it at any cost and reap massive profits by rebuilding the area. They send in a squad of merciless “Disinfestors” to wipe out anyone left alive in The Bronx, but meet their match in the shape of entrenched warrior gangs left behind.

Finally, in “The New Barbarians”, nuclear war has devastated the planet. A brutal gang called the Templars seeks to claim ultimate dominance over the land by wiping out the last remaining dregs of humanity. Standing against them is Scorpion, an ex-member of the gang, backed up by his own band of fearless warriors. Who will be victorious in this final showdown?

“The Bronx Warriors Trilogy” (Certificate ‘18’) is being released at an RRP of £29.99 (or less from www.culttvstore.com), and comes in a highly collectable, limited edition tin.

Each DVD has reversible sleeves and some great special features including an all-new interview with the director, Enzo’s introductions to the films, ‘Shameless Fact Tracks’ by Paul Alaoui, masses of trailers and a Collector’s Gallery. Reviews of all three movies will be appearing on this site very soon, so keep your eyes pealed!

You could have won a copy of the box set in our competition. All you had to do was watch the following trailer for the trilogy and then answer a question.

 

The Bronx Warriors Trilogy Trailer


 

According to one of the slogans used in the trailer, “The lucky ones were...”:

(a)      … the first to die.

(b)      … rolling in money.

(c)      … holders of the final golden ticket.

 

The answer was (a), and the lucky winner was Helen Battle of Boston, Lincs - meanwhile, here's our review ...

The set includes all three movies from the series – “The Bronx Warriors”, “Escape From The Bronx” and “The New Barbarians”.

The Bronx Warriors (1982)

Part one of the trilogy is set in a slightly futuristic 1990. The authorities have deserted The Bronx as a lost cause and left it to a collection of fiercely territorial rival gangs to fight over. Into this melé comes Ann (Stefania Girolami), the runaway daughter of Henry Clark (Ennio Girolami), President of the massively influential General Construction Corporation (GCC). Our damsel in distress is rescued from a horrible fate by Trash (Mark Gregory), leader of The Riders – a gang of leather-clad bikers. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of The Bronx, Ann’s father sends in a crack team of mercenaries led by the ruthless Hammer (Vic Morrow), on a retrieval mission. Trash and The Riders then not only have the challenge of defending their patch and Ann from the other gangs, but also deciding whether they might need to actually team up with their rivals against the common enemy invading from the civilised world.

Fans of ruggedly dystopian cult classics such as “Escape from New York”, “The Warriors” and “District 13” will be right at home with this collection, directed by one of Quentin Tarantino’s heroes, Enzo G. Castellari (co-incidentally also director of the original “The Inglorious Bastards”!). The desolate setting is a perfect arena for gang-on-gang combat. Crumbling, derelict buildings line cracked and overgrown streets; graffiti and bullet holes cover the concrete walls. Against this drab and depressing environment stand the gangs, a weird and visually wonderful bunch of hoodlums each with their own tribal outfits and markings. For example, the spike-wielding Riders sport leather jackets, mirrored shades and tight jeans; The Zombies look like something out of the “Flash Gordon” movie – pristine white helmets, roller skates, white puffer jackets and hockey sticks. As in “The Warriors”, these costumes help to differentiate the various gang members in the numerous fights that break out, and fill the screen with bright, clashing colour. Each gang has its kingpin and lieutenant, and the best moments of the film come when these puffed-up figureheads stand up to each other. There are also some splendid views of the river and the Whitestone Bridge, with the setting sun shining through the sparkling glass skyscrapers beyond. The “them and us” separation could not be more starkly illustrated.

As you would expect from a film from this era and in this genre, the acting and script are largely risible, though some particularly hammy performances from Fred Williamson (“From Dusk Till Dawn”) and Morrow help to give the movie some atmosphere. Sadly, Gregory’s Trash is a limp and seriously wooden lead, and although he looks the part, he just does not have the presence and charisma to carry the film. Trash spends most of the film mincing about like he has just painted his nails! Castellari first spotted Gregory in his gym; this movie proves that a proper casting and screen-test process is critical. On the plus side, the fight and chase scenes are well choreographed, bloody and it is always intriguing to see which of the gangs will come out on top. Fans of moustaches and 80s fashion will also find much to engage them here.

The slightly disappointing special features on this first disk include an all-new interview featurette with the director and editor Gianfranco Amicucci, Enzo’s introduction to the film, a Shameless (subtitle) Fact Track by Paul Alaoui, masses of trailers and a Collector’s Gallery.

Escape From The Bronx (1983)

“Escape” moves the story on several years. Trash is now a loner, selling ammunition to a conglomeration of members from the heavily decimated gangs. More trouble is on the way, as GCC President Clark and local politicians in his pocket have decided to forcibly relocate the inhabitants of The Bronx, and flatten the district to make way for a brand new city and hospital complex. Consequently, Disinfection and Annihilation Squads led by Floyd Wrangler (Henry Silva) are sent to clear up the streets. Officially, the relocated Bronx folk are being offered compensation but in reality they are being dumped, and those squatters who resist are unceremoniously slaughtered. Moon Grey (Valeria D’Obici), a cynical reporter and her colleague venture into The Bronx to find out what is really happening. The weak and unsuspecting people fall easily to the private army of silver-suited, crash-helmet wearing soldiers with flame throwers and machine guns, but the street fighters are less than happy about being turfed out, and fight back. Meanwhile, Trash, Moon, robbery expert Strike (Giancarlo Prete) and his very resourceful son, Junior (Alessandro Prete) plan an audacious counter-strike – to kidnap GCC President Clark himself as a hostage.

Part two of the trilogy definitely ups the ante; there is way more going on, an astronomical body count and everything is much more frenetic. Whilst the plot is still quite slim, the two story strands of squad incursion and attempted kidnap make it more stimulating. The improved ingredients fashion a better action film as a result. It seems Castellari had a bigger budget this time around, and he makes effective use of it. Explosions are going off everywhere, dozens of men are caught flying through the air in slo-mo, and he manages to convince us that there are hundreds of soldiers on both sides of the battle. As before, there are no Oscar-winning performances, but charismatic if frequently cheesy acting from Antonio Sabato as Dablone, leader of the resistance, Silva, Girolami and D’Obici helps to keep the audience engaged. Sabato and Silva’s gurning conjures up memories of that sorely missed king of scenery-munching, Ricardo Montalban. Even Gregory’s Trash is more convincing this time around, in terms of his vocal and action work if not his facial expressions. He finally feels slightly more like a battle-hardened warrior than an effete hairdresser, though his massive rock-perm is still distracting.

Unlike part one’s sharp remaster, the picture quality of “Escape” sometimes briefly drops below par, though not really to the detriment of the film. It is understandable given that the DVD producers had to piece together footage from various sources since no complete copy remained.  In terms of special features, this second DVD disk has another subtitle fact track, and dozens of trailers for other weird and beguiling films from the Shameless label. It seems their mainstay is bloody and titillating “giallo” films, often from cult Italian directors such as Umberto Lenzi and Lucio Fulci.

The New Barbarians (1982)

Part 3 of the trilogy is set in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse. All that remains of humanity is a few crude but harmonious settlements, the vicious gangs who want nothing more than their extermination, and a few good-hearted loners fighting the good fight. Whilst not really a true sequel to the other two movies, it does feature more of the same crazy action and many of the same actors, shifted further into the future and standing as a more direct homage to Mad Max, with Western undertones. Giancarlo Prete stars as Scorpion, a skilled warrior who has a lot in common with Sergio Leone’s “Man with no name”. Scorpion is being hunted by the dreaded Templars, a tribe of punk-haired, American football kitted yobs who are spitting-images of the Space Rats from the “Stardrive” episode of “Blake’s 7”. Scorpion has very few allies, though they do include crack bowman Nadir (Fred Williamson overacting with aplomb again!), and a young boy (Giovanni Frezza) who can fix cars in a jiffy and take out dozens of goons with his explosive slingshot.

The Templars are led by the ruthless duo of One (George Eastman) and Shadow (Ennio Girolami); the pair make fine, scene-stealing adversaries for our heroes, and embody all the pantomime evil you could ever want from this kind of action movie. They also command a small army of sadistic killers, which thanks to some crafty editing is quite credible given that there are in reality only a handful of vehicles and a dozen or so extras playing their parts! Their modus operandi is to encircle the camps of innocent folk, take pot-shots at them and do stunt jumps through their midst. The end result is invariably an array of burnt out buildings and charred corpses.

The future is captured in a typically cheesy fashion, but in this context it holds up pretty well. Vehicles all stick to the obligatory sci-fi code of being silver go-karts with angular metal plates welded to the sides, clear viewing bubbles on the roof, retractable cannons and spinning blades, and the unmistakable high-pitched electric whine heard so often before in both cinema and TV fantasy from the period. They seemingly all travel at no more than 50 despite dashboards quoting hundreds of kilometres per hour, but it really does not matter. The sets include deserted stretches of road and quarries, which we all know make fantastically desolate landscapes. Silver fuel tanks and stagnant pools lie here and there to give the picture some variety. Better still are the opening thirty seconds, where the camera slowly pans past a decrepit console room and a few skeletal corpses in bio-hazard suits, before pulling back to show the brown, cratered landscape beyond.

As in the previous two films, there is plenty of action and some impressive stunts. Occasionally it is clear that a dummy has been substituted for one of the actors, but when the “body” is cut in two or blown to pieces a couple of seconds later, you will be laughing too loud to care. It is that kind of film – full of comic-book violence and definitely not taking itself at all seriously. This final disk has the last fact track, and loads more of those nutty and/or smutty trailers.


“The Bronx Warriors Trilogy” (Certificate 18) is an HMV exclusive, and is out now. The RRP is £29.99, and that includes a very striking limited edition tin featuring the skull emblem of The Riders; each DVD sleeve is reversible, too. Taken as a whole, it is a very tempting package, with hours of very colourful and tongue-in-cheek action and violence. Fans of similar movies featuring Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell will love each and every one of them.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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