Can lightning strike in the same place twice? Yes, it can! Escape from the Bronx, a.k.a. Bronx Warriors 2, a.k.a. Escape 2000, is the wonderfully shitty sequel to 1990: the Bronx Warriors. Coming back from the previous film are producer Fabrizio de Angelis, director Enzo G. Castellari, and star Mark Gregory as Trash. The gang’s all here! Well, almost. The Bronx Warriors was such a success for de Angelis and company that it appears he reduced the already miniscule budget for this film in order to generate a higher profit margin. At least, that’s what I would do. The Bronx Warriors had a larger entourage for Trash, and more above scale talent than Escape. Gone are Vic Morrow and Fred Williamson, replaced by one of the most recognizable That Guy faces of the 1970s and ’80s — Henry Silva.
Silva has always been great in shitty movies, and he does a great job in this film as the over-the-top mercenary Floyd Wrangler. That’s right. FLOYD WRANGLER. All caps, folks. That’s the praise Silva has earned from me for putting on the bad guy hat in this flick.
Taking place an indeterminate amount of time after The Bronx Warrior, Escape from the Bronx once again follows Trash, the leader of an outlaw biker gang that controls a large part of the Bronx, New York City’s most forlorn borough. In the cinematic universe of Escape, the Bronx is a no-man’s land, the criminal elements making the borough ungovernable. Trash had a gang in the first film, but it appears that the climactic battle that ended that flick also divested Trash from his involvement in gangs. He is now a sullen loner, constantly on the run in his home borough from attempts to kill him. Most of these attempts are carried out by hired soldiers of the evil General Construction Company.
The GCC has big plans for the Bronx. They are going to engage in the largest slum clearance project in human history, tearing down the entire borough and constructing a modern metropolis on top of it. All the current residents are being rounded up, and told they will be given brand new houses in New Mexico. The holdouts are suspicious, and for good reason. The GCC isn’t moving anybody. They’re just burning everyone out with flamethrowers. In fact, the flamethrower is a much-used item in both this film and its predecessor. Castellari loves the damn things. I’ve never seen a movie with guns where more people are instead burnt to death with a flamethrower. And why did Castellari use flamethrowers? Because they look fucking cool, that’s why.
Trash and a whole bunch of other criminal roustabouts don’t like what GCC is doing in the Bronx, so they go to war to preserve their little slice of failed-state lawlessness. Trash teams up with Dablone (Antonio Sabato), who might be the single most Italian person I’ve ever seen, and the movie is off. There’s more story, sure, but it’s far less important than all the fighting. Characters fight in the streets, they fight in abandoned warehouses and apartment buildings, they fight everywhere. There are loads of explosions and slow motion shots of stuntmen flying through the air. It’s very ambitious for all its amateurism.
Like The Bronx Warriors, Escape had its exteriors filmed in New York City, and the interiors filmed in Italy. The small slice of the Bronx we see is nicely decrepit, as is the Renwick hospital on Roosevelt Island. This film was made close enough after The Bronx Warriors that the gaffer tape might still have been on the ground.
Also like the first film, Gregory is precious as the hero. The man had almost zero acting talent, but he gave it his all. I couldn’t find the name of the voiceover talent who overdubbed Gregory’s lines in both this and The Bronx Warriors, but he really is just as important a member of the cast as Gregory. If I ever hear Gregory’s voice not dubbed, it might give me a stroke.
Escape from the Bronx is not the bottom-est of the bottom feeders because it has a large amount of both charm and kitsch. When fans of shitty movies try to explain what it is that makes a shitty movie fun to watch, they’re referring to films like Escape from the Bronx. It’s an awful, awful film. But it’s only slightly less fun than its shitty movie predecessor. Escape from the Bronx is not a better film than Alien: Resurrection, but it hurts me to have to say so.