Title: 1990: The
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Cast: Fred Williamson, Vic Morrow, Marc Gregory, Stefania Girolami
Director Enzo G. Castellari was one of the many Italian directors that made a career out of ripping-off more successful American films; this guy liked an American film, he’d immediately go and make his own low budget version of it. The most infamous of these rip-offs is of course Great White (L’ultimo Squalo) (1981) a film that was so similar to Spielberg’s JAWS (1975) that Universal actually sued and won, which is the main reason why we haven’t gotten a proper dvd release of that film yet. Gotta be honest, I am more than a little curious to check that film out, from what I’ve seen, it looks like fun. But anyways, for a while there all Castellari could do where rip offs. The Great White fiasco didn’t stop this guy! Right after that one, he went and made The New Barbarians (1983) and 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982), two films that ripped off various successful American films. The film I will be reviewing today is 1990: The Bronx Warriors; a film I’d been looking forward to seeing for a while now; if anything, out of sheer curiosity. How was it?
Enzo G. Castellari, ripping off some American film!
Same as in Escape from
(1981) the apocalypse on this film isn’t a world-wide event, the apocalypse has
only taken place in The Bronx, where as the film states in its opening
statements “The Bronx is officially declared ‘no man’s land’". The Authorities give up all attempts to
restore law and order to that notorious borough. From then on, the area is
ruled by gangs with such names as Sharks, Scavengers, Tigers and The Riders. So
basically, nobody dares venture into The Bronx, well, almost nobody. The
daughter of the president of a powerful weapons manufacturing company called ‘The
Manhattan Corporation’ decides she no longer wants to be a part of her fathers
business, she considers him and his company scum, and “unscrupulous”. So she decides to go and live with the poor
and the oppressed deep within the heart of The Bronx. Problem is her father
wants none of that! He needs his daughter because she is the heir to his
fortune! So he sends a murderous cop known as “The Hammer” to find his daughter
and kill those who get in his way. New
Weirdest thing happened while watching this movie. Normally, when I watch an Italian Rip-Off like this one, I try and pin point which films have inspired the rip-off, but on 1990: The Bronx Warriors the opposite happened! I noticed how an American film ripped this one off, I’m speaking of course of John Carpenter’s Escape from
(1996). If you guys remember correctly, Escape from L.A. is all about the
presidents daughter escaping to L.A. (which has been turned into an island/wasteland
by a savage earthquake) and falling in love with a Che Guevara type gang leader
called ‘Cuervo Jones’. The president then sends Snake Plissken in to rescue his
daughter, who has taken with her a doomsday device that could shut down the
entire world. The plot for 1990: Bronx Warriors is extremely similar, a rich
and powerful girl decides to side with the rebels, she falls for one of them,
and her father sends a mercenary of sorts to rescue her. The real difference
between both films is that the man sent in to rescue the girl in Escape from L.A. is our hero, Snake
Plissken while in 1990: The Bronx Warriors the man sent in to rescue the girl is
a murderous cop known as ‘The Hammer’. This is a man who thrives on killing people;
he believes in nothing and works for no one. He just loves killing! So anyways,
if we take in consideration that 1990: The Bronx Warriors rips off Carpenter's
Escape from New York, one could argue that Carpenter was executing sweet
revenge on the Italians and giving them a taste of their own medicine by
ripping off 1990: The Bronx Warriors with Escape from L.A., but that’s just me
and I could be horribly wrong. But I make perfect sense don’t I? L.A.
Alex De Large's Italian Droogs
So yeah, of course 1990: The Bronx Warriors borrows heavily from other American films. If I had to describe it in someway it would have to be a mix between Escape from New York (1981) and The Warriors (1979), with a little bit of A Clockwork Orange (1971) thrown in. Same as Escape from New York, on this film they’ve gone and turned a part of New York City into a wasteland populated by bums, low lives and gangs, the kind of place where anything can crawl out of the darkest corners. And it’s like The Warriors because each gang has its own distinctive gimmick. For example, one gang looks like a roller derby team, the other looks like a group of zombies, the other is a gang of dudes with make up and batons who like to tap dance and so forth. The main gang in the film is actually a biker gang called ‘The Riders’ led by a super gay dude called ‘Trash’; why all these super tough dudes, riding choppers and sporting huge beards and leather jackets would let themselves be lead by this skinny clean shaven, effeminate is beyond me, but such is the logic of an Italian Rip Off.
The film is filled with nonsensical moments, for example. When two gangs are about to meet for face off, we hear the beat of a drum. Normally you’d think ok, it’s the soundtrack setting the mood for this big face off between two gangs, but then as the camera zooms out we realize, no, in fact there is a drummer banging his drum set right there in the scene. For no reason! Ha! I’ve read that in fact, the drummer in the scene wasn’t planned; he was simply there when they were going to shoot the scene and Castelliari decided to include him in the scene. What the Hell?? Another scene that left me baffled: The Bronx is supposed to be a ‘No Man’s Land’ according to the films opening credits, but in one scene as the biker gang rides across an abandoned neighborhood, we can clearly see regular every day traffic going on in the background! Yeah, right, post apocalyptic waste land my ass! How lazy! Had I been the director I would have simply NOT used those seconds of film, but they didn’t care and left it in there so it could completely take us out of the film. So be ready for lazy filmmaking and some bad acting, especially from the two leads.
Fred Williamson plays 'The King of New York'
Don’t know what it was about
This film was shot between
and Rome, but mostly in . What they did to create the illusion
that the whole film was shot in New York is they shot lot’s of exterior shots
with New York buildings in the background and the rest was simply shot it in places
that looked like New York but where actually Rome. Gotta say they did a good
job of hiding it. I didn’t really notice! But the scenes that they did shoot in
New York look very much like The Bronx, the abandoned buildings and isolated
areas look post-apocalyptic because The Bronx was kind of post apocalyptic
looking back in those days. The Rome Bronx was a borough
that was emerging from the 70’s and was in a transitional period. Lot’s of changes were going on in terms of buildings and
architecture back in those days. I know because I lived in The Bronx during the
early 80’s, I experienced this desolation first hand!
Vic Morrow as 'The Hammer'
Final words on this film is that it’s bad, it’s got some bad acting, and it’s obviously a rip off of many films that came before it, but at the same time some of you out there with a tolerance for heavy cheese and b-movie madness will find it watchable and maybe even entertaining. The film made me giggle a time or two, especially when the character called The Hammer comes into play. He was played by Vic Morrow before Vic Morrow died while making John Landis’s segment for Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), so 1990: The Bronx Warriors was actually Morrow’s penultimate screen performance before his untimely death. Morrow steals the show as ‘The Hammer’ a heartless bad guy who laughs while ordering his minions to kill. Another bonus is Fred Williamson as ‘The Ogre’ a.k.a. The King of
Though to be honest, I don’t know why they didn’t call Williamson’s character
The Hammer, that’s how he calls himself in real life anyways! But whatever, let’s
not try and make sense of these Italian rip offs which are best enjoyed with
our sense-o-meters turned off. Speaking of Willamson, highly recommend you
check out the dvd extras which include an interview to Williamson where he goes
on and on about how he built his career from the ground up, loved hearing his
story. He kind of comes off as the black Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or many Schwarzenegger
is the white Fred Williamson? So anyways, 1990: The Bronx Warriors is at times
a slow film, a violent film and a funny film all rolled up into one. Just don’t
expect a masterpiece. New York