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February 2010

Escape From The Bronx

cast: Mark Gregory, Henry Silva, Giancarlo Prete, Valeria D'Obici, and Paolo Malco

director: Enzo G. Castellari

85 minutes (18) 1983
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Shameless DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
review by Jim Steel

Escape From The Bronx

Judging by the evidence provided in 1990: The Bronx Warriors, it is reasonable to assume that Castellari didn't plan on making a sequel. He would probably have left more of the original characters alive if he had. Then again, The Bronx Warriors did have an improvised feel to it. Escape From The Bronx (aka: Fuga dal Bronx) has had a bit more thought put into it and is consequently a better film. Do not read too much into this, though. It merely feels as if it were plotted by a 12-year-old rather than a 10-year-old boy this time. However, it does lose some of the jaw-dropping weirdness of the first film. Castellari giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other.

This time the Bronx is being demolished by a faceless corporation which has plans to redevelop it. You've all seen RoboCop, right? The people are being relocated (or possibly sent to death camps), and anyone who resists is killed by the foil-suited storm troopers of the GC Corporation. Their weapon of choice appears to be the flame-thrower, which makes the foil suits' tendency to burst into flame somewhat puzzling. One omission in the first film has been rectified here: the absence of guns. Now they are freely available and the body-count is consequently pretty spectacular.

The first we see of Trash (Mark Gregory) in this film is when he blows a helicopter out of the air with his revolver. When his parents are killed (giving Gregory the opportunity to run through his entire repertoire of expressions: stunned and stoic), Trash leads the survivors in resisting the cleansing. The Disinfestors are lead by the psychotic, but delightfully named, Floyd Wrangler (Henry Silva, the budget Jack Palance), and opposing them is the equally wonderfully-named Moon Gray (Valeria D'Obici), a liberal reporter. She enters the Bronx and teams up with Trash, and together they go underground - literally - to meet up with the last of the gangs who are led by Dablone (Antonio Sabato).

Sabato has a tendency to overact as much as Gregory under-acts and the two make for a strange screen pairing. With the Disinfestors closing in, Trash and Gray decide that their only real chance is to recruit legendary criminal Strike (Giancarlo Prete) and kidnap the GC president when he visits the Bronx. Strike comes with a son (Alessandro Prete) who is a dab-hand with explosives and, since he mostly keeps his mouth shut, is not an annoyance to the viewer.

As with the first film, the interiors are shot in Italy and the exteriors in New York. This version has been restored and is apparently the most complete on available; you are warned by Castellari in a brief introduction that the stock quality is not very consistent. However, what you see here is fine, and you will only occasionally notice any drop in quality. There is also a commentary track with this DVD as well as a couple of trailers for the film. Finally, there are 14 trailers for other Shameless releases, which are mostly vintage giallo films.



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