Escape from the Bronx (1983)
By: Stuart Giesel on October 15, 2013 | Comments
Shameless | All Regions, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 1.0 | 85 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Starring: Mark Gregory, Henry Silva, Valeria D'Obici, Timothy Brent, Paolo Malco
Screenplay: Tito Carpi, Enzo G. Castellari
Country: Italy
Escape from the Bronx (aka The Bronx Warriors II) takes certain elements from director Enzo G. Castellari's unapologetically silly and fun The Bronx Warriors - namely gang leader Trash (Mark Gregory), the grim and broken down Bronx setting, stylish slo-mo death scenes and the faceless death squads - and caps off his apocalypse trilogy with bloody, illogical style. The film is plagued with ineptness, which of course makes it great.

Once again, we follow gang leader Trash, who this time around has ditched the tight jeans that caused him so much internal distress in the first film. He's still in charge of Bronx gang The Riders, presumably, but now there are far greater problems now than gang rivalry, because the evil General Construction Corporation (a rebranded Manhattan Corporation from the first film, perhaps?) has sent their armed thugs into the Bronx to "persuade" people to move to New Mexico (honestly, I'd be there in an instant) so that the Bronx can be torn down and rebuilt into GC's version of utopia. Overseeing this initiative is Floyd Wrangler (Henry Silva) who, despite his wimpy-sounding name, is in the true Silva tradition an utter badass. Together with underground leader Dablone (Antonio Sabato) and mercenary Strike (Giancarlo Prete) and his son, Trash kidnaps the president of the corporation (played by Castellari's brother Ennio Girolami) in a hope that it will stop the violence.

Guess what? It doesn't.

Like The Bronx Warriors, the fun lies not in following the compelling plot or the lives of its fascinating lead characters (both elements that Escape from the Bronx does not possess) but rather the baffling and offbeat moments that somehow snuck into the final product. Trash's parents have, for some inexplicable reason, a fanboy-sized poster of their son hung up on the wall - did he become a rock star in between the events of the first film and this one? Trash is able to fire off a round from his pistol and blow up a helicopter, just after the guy with the machine gun on the copter proved he couldn't hit shit from an elevated position and a thousand times the number of bullets. Arbitrary sector names like "R-2-R", "P-6", "M-3" are thrown around as if they mean something. The GC Corporation prove that either they have the most useless PR team in history, or the state of the media in the future is even more fucked than it is at the moment - the media are blacked out from the events happening in the Bronx, but even still, the most inept reporter wouldn't have to try hard to uncover the hideous facts, because the people running the operation are apparently idiots: a massive sign on the side of a van tells all that it belongs to the DAS or "Disinfestation Annihilation Squad". To further hammer the point home, Henry Silva runs around in a Nazi/SS-esque uniform trying not to act too crazy in front of the media. Whatever you do, DON'T give him sugar in his coffee...it makes him crazy!

There's certainly plenty of action - the death toll is through the roof on this one, and there are plenty of burning and exploding bodies to keep your eyes glued to the screen, as well as a fantastic gory shot of a shotgun smashing a guy's face through his helmet. As with The Bronx Warriors, the faceless goons tend to brandish flamethrowers, resulting in plenty of shots of flames shooting at people or directly into camera. Castellari stages the action well, giving certain shots a Peckinpah-esque quality.

Mark Gregory is a little less stiff in this flick than The Bronx Warriors, but that's probably more to do with his change of wardrobe than anything else. The token female in this film is a nosy reporter, but refreshingly this doesn't result in a new love interest for Trash. After all, Escape from the Bronx is all about the action, which is a good thing considering there's not much plot to speak of. It's definitely more wall-to-wall action than The Bronx Warriors ever was, so by the end of it you'll struggle to recall, other than the odd bit of violence, what you just witnessed. It's probably as entertaining as its predecessor, and certainly much more so than The New Barbarians thanks to some nice action choreography and the striking setting, but just don't expect any elements of greatness here, other than another winning turn from the great Henry Silva.
The Disc
Shameless' Escape from the Bronx DVD release is a mixed bag when it comes to picture and sound quality. Considering the film's age and low budget, it looks decent enough, although lots of artefacts, grain and noise persist. As warned by the opening text, this "Shameless Fan Edition" is a rebuilt edit, containing low-quality old additional footage that has been spliced back into the film. This new footage, at least picture-wise, doesn't gel with the rest of the movie. There's not enough of this footage to spoil the film, but to be honest the material doesn't add much to the experience, and it would have been nice to have an option to watch the movie minus these added moments. As with The Bronx Warriors and The New Barbarians, dialogue was mostly added in post and comes across a little unnaturally, but the non-stop action means you won't mind all that much.

The disc is crammed with trailers for twenty Shameless features including The New York Ripper, Manhattan Baby, Torso and the wonderfully luridly-titled films What Have They Done To Your Daughters?, Strip Nude for your Killer and Who Saw Her Die? I have no idea whether these films are any good or not, but like Last House on the Left, the title alone has me intrigued. Interestingly, the DVD itself suggests that Escape from the Bronx has a UK 15 rating and the Shameless trailers themselves have warranted the DVD's 18 rating. The trailers certainly provide a generous helping of nudity and gore.

You can watch the title credits sequence in both English and Italian, and there are International and UK Video trailers for Escape from the Bronx too. As with the other Castellari releases, the Fact Track is here to give you some interesting facts about the making of the film, and Shameless have also provided a reverse DVD inset with alternative cover, something that all DVD and Blu-Ray releases should do.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
If The Bronx Warriors was Enzo Castellari's homage to The Warriors, and The New Barbarians his attempt to clone Mad Max 2, then Escape from the Bronx is Escape From New York by way of Death Wish 3 and Rambo: First Blood Part II - gritty locales infused with insipid writing and a ton of action. It's almost as nonsensical as the other two apocalypse films in the series, which means it's equally as entertaining and, combined with a generous helping of Henry Silva, means you have another cheesy exploitation winner on your hands.
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