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1990: The Bronx Warriors – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

1990-Bronx-WarriorsOh those lovely Italian movies from 1980s.  Find one cool, hit American genre movie and exploit, exploit, exploit it.  Much of their fare in the decade were either zombie films inspired by George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (But really set into motion by Zombie Flesh Eaters) or post apocalyptic wastelands akin to George Miller’s The Road Warrior.  Personally, these are pretty trashy, but I dig them.  They are great late night movies and can be fun to watch for reasons both intentional and unintentional.  While knocking things off, they often try to push their own limits, making for an unpredictable and bolder adventure than your common popcorn cinema escape.  Blue Underground is giving us three of these classics from director Enzo G. Castellari.  Today, we’re covering 1990: The Bronx Warriors.

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Film 

Anne is the 17-year-old heiress to the arms manufacturing giant, The Manhattan Corporation. Unable to face her guilt over inheriting a morally questionable company when she turns 18, Anne runs away into the lawless wasteland of the Bronx.  Attacked by a roller skating gang called The Zombies, Anne is saved by members of The Riders, and taken under the protection of The Riders’ leader Trash. The Manhattan Corporation hires a ruthless and psychopathic mercenary named Hammer, who turns the various Bronx gangs against each other to ensure Anne is returned.

While there are other elements in play, if you strip 1990: The Bronx Warriors down to its core you get two movies.  This movie basically looks like Enzo G Castellari went to a double feature of The Warriors and Escape From New York, loved both, then decided he would make his own film mashing them together.  It basically plays like reverse Escape From New York, because our good guys are The Warriors.  The person that is trying to be extracted from the Bronx wants to be there, and our badass sent in to rescue (Snake Plissken type) is our villain.  There is nothing wrong with this, as I’ve said before, I prefer knock offs to straight remakes.

While this film has a bit of a problem with pacing (It feels much longer than 90 minutes), its still quite an entertaining watch.  The action scenes and stunts work well enough and the gore effects look really great.  It knows it’s never going to be the two films its ribbing from, so it adds its own element in being a bit more brutal with showing violence than its predecessors.  There was even a guy crashing his motorcycle that looked so natural (Maybe it was) that I stepped outside the movie wondering if the actor was okay.

Another thing I thought was cool was how Enzo utilized the location shooting.  There are a lot of real ruinous places featured in the film.  He also really knows how to shoot them and fill his world with color as well.  There are a lot of interesting, beautiful and weird things to gaze at in The Bronx Warriors that even a detractor could appreciate.  And like all good things, some stuff is kept ambiguous and just left to be there, like the drummer at the beginning during the little biker gathering.

Now, no, this movie is not perfect and its likely for a very niche audience.  As I mentioned before, it has some pacing issues.  A lot of the group sitting around and talking scenes feel a little bit repetitive and some things could have been subtracted or tightened.  Also, the acting is pretty bad.  Aside from Fred Williamson (Who oddly doesn’t play the character called “The Hammer” in the film), everyone struggles on their lines.  And its odd because you don’t know whether its the actual performer or the people dubbing the lines challenging themselves to match their words to the lips.  One thing is very obvious though; our hero Trash is not the greatest actor.  He also looks super awkward in his outfit and trying is best in every shot to puff his chest out.

With a nice new Blu-ray of this film, its one that may be a lot easier or better to swallow and appreciate compared to the days of a ratty VHS tape.  I’ve found that a lot of the time in the advent of Blu-ray with many B-films of the 1970s and 1980s.  1990: The Bronx Warriors is a fun little mish-mash of two geek/cult friendly properties that fans of both should really check out and have fun with.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  These old 70s and 80s Italian movies are a real mixed bag sometimes in terms of their print qualities, restorations and transfers.  This is one of the better looking ones in terms of looking clean.  However, its a bit soft and things will look a little smooth form time to time.  On first look, I was quite surprised at how nice it looked.  The opening credits probably actually are the highlight of the transfer.  The rest of it isn’t, bad though, and for what this is, I’d say its really good.

Depth:  There are some really good moments in some of the ruinous interiors, with separation of character and environment.  Motions, for the most part, work out smoothly and cinematic.

Black Levels: Blacks are rich and probably accurate to their cinematic appearance.  Crushing is minimal and detail is average on clothing articles, surfaces and hair that are black in color.

Color Reproduction: Colors actually look really nice when given the chance.  Any scene Fred Williamson is in has colorful set designs and they radiate nicely in this transfer.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent.  Detail is solid in static close-up shots.  Although it is a little hit and miss between good deal and looking smooth and smudgy at times in further out shots.

Noise/Artifacts: A layer of grain is present as well as a little bit of noise.  Dirt, specs, scratches in the print are surprising very minuscule.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dynamics: This is a decent sounding theatrical mix that does very well by its score.  Drums, bass and everything is very individualized in the mix.  Punches, crashes and effects all sound nice, natural and loose.  The vocals are a little bit dated sounding, but this mix sounds really balanced and cleanly.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud and clear.  Much of it does sound a little like dated ADR and slightly muffly.

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Extras 

1990: The Bronx Warriors comes with  DVD copy of the film.  The reverse side of the cover features a production photo along with a chapter selection layout.

Audio Commentary

  • With Co-Writer/Director Enzo G. Castellari

Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angeles In Coversation: Part 1 (HD, 14:09) – The director and producer sit down to talk about how they started working together (Castellari was offered Zombie Flesh Eaters before Lucio Fulci) and details of their production.  Including how Schwarzenegger was a possibility until Conan was released.

Sourcing The Weaponry (HD, 11:55) – Enzo G. Castellari visits the Italian weapons rental house of Paolo Ricci.

Adventures In The Bronx (HD, 7:21) – Interview with Actor/Stuntman Massimo Vanni.  Among many things he discusses are his first time in America being this movie, working with Enzo and also gets into working on The New Barbarians.

Theatrical Trailers

  • International Trailer (HD, 2:42) 
  • Italian Trailer (HD, 2:41)
  • Escape From The Bronx Trailer (HD, 3:15) 
  • The New Barbarians Trailer (HD, 3:25)

Poster And Still Gallery – Features many posters, lobby cards, VHS artwork, news clippings, promo & behind the scenes photos.

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Summary 

Its hard to see what would make for a much better release of this movie.  I know different companies have put their own supplemental material to it in the past.  And, sure, the picture could ALWAYS look better.  But, you gotta realize the film you’re dealing with, the distributor and the potential sales for the release.  In that regard, I think this release is pretty great with picture, audio and extras.  The film itself is a lot of fun if you’re into trashy, vintage, b-action/genre films.  For fans, this is an easy upgrade and pickup.

1990-Bronx-Warriors-Blu-ray

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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