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Escape From The Bronx – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Escape-From-The-BronxOh 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 Escape From The Bronx.

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Film 

Several years after the events of 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Trash , former leader of the Riders gang is now a cynical loner, remaining in the impoverished, lawless wasteland of the Bronx and trading in stolen ammunition. The General Construction (GC) Corporation, led by President Clark, wish to tear down the Bronx to turn it into “the city of the future”. To do this they need to clear the current population from the area and have employed expelled prison warden Floyd Wangler and a private squad of Disinfestors to burn, shoot and gas those that will not leave willingly.

Escape From The Bronx is a really interesting sequel, in that its pretty much its own film.  There are ties to the first one albeit the territory in the film and the character of Trash.  But, ultimately this movie rests upon its own shoulders and isn’t really a ‘Part 2’ at all.  You could jump right into this film and be just fine.  And that’s pretty interesting considering it shot 18 months after the first film was released.

Trash is our biggest connection to the first film.  However, its ten years since Bronx Warriors and he’s used differently here and is much better in both the acting department and costuming.  Mark Greggory looks far more comfortable in this movie than he did in the last movie.  While I guess we’d call him our main character, this one is more of an ensemble.  Trash is also sort of a second fiddle or right hand help whatever grouping he’s a part of .  Just an action man and following orders.

This film is much better paced than the first and has plenty of exciting movement.  Its one of those ‘point A to point B’ movies with plenty of obstacles to get through.  The whole crux of this movie is its own and has a different feel than the first movie.  The bad guys are different, the mission is different, the characters are new, the times have changed.  Its impressive how this one is set in comparison to its predecessor.  In the world of cheap Italian genre filmmaking, you’d expect “more of the same” and that’s nothing of what this movie is.

Enzo G. Castellari goes for broke with a lot of shoot outs, gun spraying events, car crashes, helicopter chases and explosions.  I guess you’d say he went for broke.  There’s some cool stuff that is both impressive, over the top and goofy to get you going.  However, one thing that was really missing was the gore factor that the previous film (And New Barbarians) excelled in.  I guess there was just too much violence going on in the budget that they had to cut squibs and exploding limbs and whatnot.  People get shot the hell up and not a spot on their body shows of any damage.  There is an AWESOME kill with a baseball bat, but the blood factor is way way down in this movie that has over 150 deaths I think.

I was really impressed on how Escape From The Bronx holds well on its own without needing to share hands with its predecessor.  Its still a trashy Italian sci-fi action picture, but an entertaining one.  My one wish is that it had the graphic violence the first one did.  If it had that exploitative measure added to it (And yeah, I know its just a silly “detail”, but this is exploitation we’re talking about), I think I’d easily choose it over the first film.  As it is though, I’d say they are about even stevens.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Featuring a similar image to the other two films, Escape From The Bronx has clarity but is a little soft around the edges.  In more static shots, the detail is a bit higher.  You can definitely see impressive moments, like the cracks and scratches on Trash’s jacket for example.  For what they probably had to work with, Blue Underground has done a solid job with this and the other two films.

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 look natural and a tad reserved in their element.  Its full of browns and the like.  The silver uniforms look solid, and when there are other colors they look accurate and aren’t really stealing the show.

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 SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: This one features gunfire, explosions and crashes with much more frequency than the other two.  It picks them up quite good and gives as nice an action experience as an Italian exploitation action film from the early 1980s could bring.

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 

Escape From The Bronx 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 3 (HD, 13:15) – In the final piece, the two discuss how simply it was to craft this sequel and also their surprise as to the legacy of the films.

The Hunt For Trash (HD, 12:39) – An interview with Bronx Warriors superfan Lance Manley.  He goes over his history of fandom, the creation of his fansite and the hunt for actor Mark Greggory (Still searching, btw).  It features videos that you can find on his site that is still up.  While it seems a bit crazy, you’ll jump on board with the fascination on wondering what the heck happened to this guy.  Kind of like Eric Freeman from Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2.

Theatrical Trailers

  • 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)

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

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Summary 

Escape From The Bronx caps off this little run of post apocalyptic Mad Max/Escape From New York inspired Italian action films from director Enzo G. Castellari.  This Blu-ray looks and sounds in sync with the other two releases.  The bonus features are once again terrific as well, as they come to a head with the director and producer interview.  The film itself actually stands on its own and its completely different than the original and is its own thing, which manages to be pretty impressive.

Escape-From-The-Bronx-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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