Monday, 9 February 2009

Bronx Warriors 2 (1983)

To recreate the experience of watching this film, drink heavily then
stare at this image for 90 minutes while making exploding noises.

Bronx Warriors may have been a near-perfect film, but one of it's few flaws was that it left so many unanswered questions. What happened to Trash now that his motorcycle gang is completely wiped out? How does he maintain his mane of curls in an Escape From New York style wasteland? What kind of parents would name their kid "Trash"? Thankfully, Enzo G. Castellari saw fit to give us another entry in the saga of Trash: Bronx Warriors 2 (aka Escape From the Bronx), a film that answers at least the last of the above questions.

Although he retains the head of hair that made him famous, Trash (Marc Gregory) has gone through a few changes since the first film. He's still got his bike with skull headlamp that he uses to traverse stairwells instead of the traditional walking, but no more sleeveless leather vests. He must have been too busy to work out in between films. He has also traded in his metal club for a tiny six-shooter, which may seem like a step down but in his first scene he uses it to take down a helicopter with a couple of shots. Sure it's a model helicopter, but still, pretty impressive.

The people hunting Trash are the private army of the E.C. Corporation, an evil company that wants to turf out the residents of the Bronx so they can build a gleaming new metropolis. Although they claim they are financially compensating the residents and giving them houses in New Mexico, what they are really doing is sending in a team of silver-jumpsuited "Disinfestors" to roast every resident they can find with a flamethrower. They are led by Floyd Wrangler (Henry Silva, picking up slumming-actor role from Vic Morrow) who hates the Bronx almost as much as he hates sugar in his coffee ("It makes me crazy!!"). Most of the surviving gang members are hiding out underground, led by the violently overacting Dablone (Antonio Sabato).

Among the Bronx natives willing to fight it out above ground are Trash's own parents, no doubt inspired by the enormous poster of their son (a publicity still from Bronx Warriors) that they keep on their living room wall. In hindsight it should have been obvious that Trash's father would be Ratchet from 2019: After the Fall of New York (or the actor who played him anyway), and needless to say he greets the neighbourhood Disinfestation team with a baseball bat to the face. Unfortunately Pa Trash quickly learns that you should never take a baseball bat to a flamethrower fight, and pretty soon Trash's folks are stinking out the building with their barbecued corpses. Although grief is clearly outside his acting range, you can tell Trash is upset because he shoots some scavengers a bunch of times with an angry scowl on his face. Go get 'em, Trash!

Meanwhile, a former-Bronxian reporter thinks the Corporation's cover story is a little suspicious (the fact that they have Disinfestation Annihilation Team written on the side of their trucks was probably her first clue) and during a press conference she launches into an angry rant that she concludes with a succinct "The E.C. Corporation sucks!" before getting tossed on her ass. Subsequently, she sneaks into the Bronx in order to gather photographic evidence of their dastardly deeds. Although her cameraman gets roasted like a Christmas turkey, she joins Trash's crusade against the evil Corporation.

Together they come up with the idea of kidnapping the President of the E.C. Corporation and forcing the Disinfestors to evacuate their gang-run hellhole. As Dablone says, "Nobody will sit on a john full of dynamite." Who knows what that is supposed to mean, but Trash's plan requires enlisting the help of a mercenary named Strike (Giancarlo Prete, last seen getting fucked up the ass by George Eastman in The New Barbarians) and his explosives obsessed son. In his first line this kid called Trash a "fag", so I immediately liked him. Strike is reluctant to take part in Trash's stupid plan, so Trash convinces him by telling him something or other about sitting around and "scratching his balls". "I like scratching my balls", replies Strike. We all do, buddy. We all do.

Together their team treks through the sewers and into Manhattan, where they capture the President during the public opening of the new demolition project. The reporter uses her gift for shrill, hysterical rants to distract the cops while Trash nabs the President, and together they escape into the sewers. One police officer says what we were all thinking about Mark Gregory's bizarre effeminate walk when he remarks "What a fag! Look at him run!", although it's possible that he was referring to Trash's hasty retreat. What follows is almost half an hour of sewer chases and dudes in silver jumpsuits jumping away from explosions in slow motion.

After some convincing from Wrangler, the Vice President (Paolo Malco, everything) decides to bomb the entire Bronx, President and all, so he can take over the company. This leads to an insane firefight where the remains of the gangs are smoked out of their hidey-hole and pretty much everyone gets a bullet sandwich. I didn't count how many Disinfestors and gang members were shot or exploded, but a conservative estimate would place it at around five billion. More magic bullets are fired that explode vehicles in a single shot.

Bronx Warriors 2 seems to be a much different film that the first. The tone is a lot more bleak and serious. The characters just aren't as interesting, and I'm not sure who could fill the hole left by Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and Vic Morrow, but a bored Henry Silva isn't it. The awesome tap-dancing gang make a brief cameo but unfortunately you don't see them fighting the Disinfestors using the power of dance. It's more action packed than the first film, but it's not as interesting and varied... the guys in silver jumpsuits doing flips in slow motion starts to get a bit repetitive the 100th time around. There aren't as many deliciously quotable lines from Trash this time (I call it "Trash Talk") since he seems content to let his tiny pea-shooter do the talking. I'd consider this an slightly inferior follow-up to Bronx Warriors, but essential viewing for fans of Trash (pretty much everyone).

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