Original Title: 1990: I guerrieri del BronxYear: 1985
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Writer: Elisa Briganti, Enzo G. Castellari, Dardano Sacchetti (screenplay, story)
Genre: Action, Post-Apocalypse
In a post-apocalyptic New York City, a policeman infiltrates the Bronx, which has become a battleground for several murderous street gangs.
Here's your recipe for success:
Take two parts The Warriors, two parts Escape From New York, one part Mark Slaughter, one part Rob Halford, sprinkle in a bit more gay, shake until unrecognizable, and voilà!
You have 1990: Bronx Warriors!
While I may be biased, and while there are some nicely shot scenes and cool little additions, I thought this film was pretty fun for the most part. Despite it being a trainwreck that is.
A bit of trivia I learned while reading about Castellari's dip into the post-apoc pool is that the "star" Mark Gregory, aptly named Trash in the film, at the age of 17 was discovered at a gym after his girlfriend sent a photo of him in to a contest to pick the lead actor in this film. And it painfully shows that poor Mark had little to no acting skills. Not even in the action department was he convincing. And put him next to cigar and scene chewing Fred Williamson, and the flaws become ever more apparent. He just cannot keep up.
Oh, but was he pretty! Even I wanted to bang him a couple times there. I think it's the vest/no shirt look that really did it for me.
And those pouty lips
and curly locks.
And that pointy, studded stick...
Now let's get back to Mr. Williamson.
Oh, I haven't forgotten you, Hammer!
Oh, what's that?
There's someone else named Hammer here?
And you're being forced to dress like a gay pirate complete with golden belt buckle and tight leather pants?
How pissed are you as Fred Williamson in this film if not only this douchebag...
...has stolen your awesome name, but you are also relegated to being the king of a shithole and leader of a gang of tacky pimps who never left the 1970s, your name is inexplicably The Ogre despite your being attempted suave, and you have to try to keep that tough persona alive while sporting a wardrobe fit for Saturday Night Fever?
He tries his best to maintain the illusion with his trademark cigar, camera mugging, and a stache that is simply out of fucking control, but silk (shiny polyester?) just isn't the best look for this man, let me say.
The other actors here are pretty much "Trash" as well. Haha, see what I did there?
Vic Morrow as Hammer is an enigma for me. In plain clothes, he is over the top, yes, but bearable. He yells, kills shit, and also has a terrific mustache! But mysteriously this mean dude in the fake Member's Only jacket disappears... it all falls apart when he dons his Fascist uniform and turns into an evil-laughing, pointing, hyper-overacting idiot. It was embarrassing, really, but just between you and me, I smiled a little. Shhhh.
Trash's gang, and really most everyone else in the film simply suck. Enzo makes a few appearances himself as the vice-president and is stiff as a board. There's his asshole second-in-command Ice (who wears a terrific John Denver costume), the forgettable everyone else in the gang, Trash's lady friend who I could care less about even though she was the keystone of the entire story.... and then this guy who was particularly annoying, Blade, played by Massimo Vanni who talks through his smiley teeth the entire time.
His delivery is painful!
But what a fabulous headband!
The story is simple enough despite not making a lot of sense. Trash's aforementioned lady companion Ann (Stefania Girolami Goodwin) is the heiress to a giant arms manufacturing corporation, and she is now set to become the owner. She does not want any part of this evil corporation, so she runs away to the Bronx from Manhattan because getting raped and murdered by men in facepaint and roller skates or tap shoes will really show those business types what's what. So she sets our story in motion as Trash becomes her protector and the president and vice president send in Hammer the super cop to retrieve her. Many of the actions of the characters I felt really were empty and pointless, but in an early-80s Italian post-apocalypse film, this really isn't something you need to get hung up on.
While we're on the subject of post-apocalypse films, I am really not sure if this is even considered one. Sure, the area we see most of the story in is dystopian and in shambles, but we can see the fucking Twin Towers in the background and there was even one point where you saw Manhattan traffic just zooming along on the other side of the river behind Trash in one scene. Plus, 1990 wasn't very far in the future for the Bronx to have completely crumbled. been abandoned by society and walled off.
Wait, you couldn't see the World Trade Center from the Bronx could you?? What the fuck?
And what the hell happened to the New York Yankees in this future?
Despite all of this Trash (man, does the guy ever stop?? LOL!) there are some nicely shot sequences in here as we often see with Castellari films. He was able to keep this American-set film feeling European which I can appreciate, and we see some of his trademarks shining through. The slow motion on the fighting sequences, while showing flaws in their technique (missing a punch is a flaw, yes?) added a nice sense of style at least.
There were cool weapons all around which are always a nice post-apoc staple I think; boot knife, the studded spikes of the Riders, whip, claws, cane sword, the combination knife/brass knuckles. Trash sports a particularly brutal elbow spike which he seems to use quite often. Too bad it never appears to be bloody, however. Gotta save money somewhere I suppose...
One of my favorite parts of the film actually was the opening credits, where there is a sweet song playing and we are shown closeups of these weapons briefly moving then pausing as credits flash by.
Poor Fred gets stuck again with a shit image; this time beside his credit.
Come on! at least give him a metal hockey stick!
And other scenes are shot (and scored) nicely, like the climactic battle despite some apparent reuse of shots, or like the funeral scene in the middle of the film followed by the procession as the Riders move to spread the ashes of their fallen members.
I liked the montage of all the individuals standing around the pyre, then dusk falling as the group rides down an empty New York street with their illuminated skulls on their handlebars. It's a little much, I suppose, but I thought it was a cool part.
I don't mean to come down entirely on this film. It's rather unoriginal, poorly acted, and kind of a mess overall. But it looks nice, has a few moments, and there is just something about these types of films are endearing to me.
It's worth a watch if you are into the genre or want to continue to play along in Castellari month, but there are much better post-apocalypse biker weapon fighting flicks out there... some even with LAZERS! I mean, look no farther than his 1982 flick The New Barbarians for evidence of that!
5 out of 10
In the comments, Matt noted my omission of the crazy drummer guy. TOTAL oversight on my part. When the Riders go to meet Ogre and his gang for the first time in a huge, dusty lot, there is a random (very random) guy on a simple drum set - snare, kicker, single cymbal - just playing the same little beat over and over again.
His "drum solo" is actually the repeating music for the DVD menu!
I did some reading about him after seeing him, and evidently he was some dude hanging out at the shooting site that day and he just kept playing. Castellari and crew worked around him. Honestly, he kind of blended in for me. After seeing a rollerskating hockey-themed gang, just a guy in street clothes playing drums didn't stick out all that much.
I'm so glad I read about him now, though. He will forever be a legend to me. Mark Gregory may have disappeared after 1989, but I wanna know where random drummer guy is now...
I was lazy in my determining my readers. Mattsuzaka (of chucknorrisatemybaby fame....check it out now!) pointed out that I had indeed confused my Matts.
Sorry for the confusion