Italian exploitation stalwart Enzo G. Castellari brings this 1982 riff on the Escape From New York concept with 1990: The Bronx Warriors. Melodramatic, portentous, action-packed, and totally entertaining, 1990, gets fine Blu-ray treatment from the good folks at Blue Underground. If you're a fan of Italian exploitation movies (and if not, why not?) then you'll want to give this disk a look.
It's 1990, obviously, and the government has given up on the Bronx; lawlessness reigns, and you take your life in your own hands should you venture into the borough. Stupidly, Ann (Stefania Girolami) decides to hide out in the Bronx, leading to a manhunt. With a mercenary on her tail, Ann finds safety of a kind with model-gorgeous gang leader Trash, (Mark Gregory) who decides that, while he and the other gangs might derive some benefit from the lawlessness, they ain't gonna take it anymore, fighting back against the establishment keeping them down in the wasteland of the Bronx. The thing is, Ann is next in line to run the evil Manhattan Corporation, meaning her dad really wants her home, so much so that he's hired that mercenary, Hammer (Vic Morrow) to sort things out: get the girl, kill everyone, you know the story.
Combining Escape From New York, The Warriors and other more artful exploitation pictures of the time, 1990 reads just like what it is, an Italian cash-in. (And let's face it, Italian cash-ins were/are a worthy genre in and of themselves.) At that, 1990 is simple and wholly entertaining. Subtext and complexity of plot are left by the wayside in favor of outlining weird gangs that are mostly pretty flamboyant. Not that there's anything wrong with that, either. Nonetheless, the other unacknowledged influence on 1990 is A Chorus Line, since most of the gangs duking it out in the Bronx seem filtered through that sensibility: a Hockey gang that's a bit flashy, a gang that fights via elaborate dance routines, and so on. Castellari puts things together nicely, and 1990: The Bronx Warriors is never anything less than smooth and entertaining. It's never anything more than adequate, by the same standards. The inclusion of genre stalwart Fred Williamson (with his gang of flashy pimp-style gangsters) is a coup, to be sure, and some splashy violence but the set-pieces that truly get the blood pumping are on the tame side for this reviewer's tastes.
Thoroughly entertaining and engaging, but not exactly rising above a solid homage/pastiche, 1990: The Bronx Warriors is a welcome viewing experience for any genre enthusiast, while Blue Underground graces us with a beautiful transfer and some nice extras, (one part of which is spread across three(!) Castellari releases) meaning this Blu-ray/DVD combo is Recommended for serious fans, but might just be only a fun rent for casual observers.