Bronx Executioner effortlessly takes its place in the pantheon of awesome post-apocalyptic Italian movies set in the Bronx! And it does it without being particularly post-apocalyptic and not really being set in the Bronx!
Sure, the movie’s opening shots feature a nice tour of recognizable New York City landmarks and I think the Bronx Executioner himself had a badge that identified him as a New York cop, but the bulk of the action took place on mounds of dirt and a large derelict country villa that looked distinctly Italian.
The post-apocalyptic aspect is likewise quite limited and doesn’t make a lick of sense, but what it lacks in sense, it makes up for in guys rolling down mounds of dirt! That’s a trade off I’ll make every time!
This is a Bronx populated by warring races of androids and humanoids! In a future that we can only hope and pray arrives as soon as possible, humans manufacture androids and humanoids, but sometimes they turn out defective!
Due to the political climate, the original plan to simply destroy them is abandoned in favor of a much more sensible plan that involves dumping them all in the Bronx!
The problem that necessitates the presence of Bronx Executioner on the dirt roads of the Bronx is the fact that the androids and humanoids are mortal enemies and routinely try to kill one another. The NYPD decides that they need a police presence to keep a lid on things.
Thus we have Bronx Executioner hanging around a station house in the Bronx that looks like someone’s garage. A cinder block wall with a poster of the city (at night!) on it, a desk, and some beat up lockers pretty much sums up the whole decor and really cements the movie’s claim to being post-apocalyptic. Oh and it also had a training course.
What part of Rocky movies do all of us love? I mean, aside from when Apollo Creed gets killed. Right, the training montages where Rocky beats his meat, runs up stairs, hauls wood, and helps KGB agents get their car out of snow drifts. It’s this “old school” training that allows Rocky to overcome all odds, while the fancy opponents are left on the canvas, their dirty, positive-testing urine all over the mat!
So you just know that when Bronx Executioner is getting whacked by hanging sandbags, sliding under barb wire, and doing pull ups while the old Bronx Executioner, Warren, is smacking at his knuckles with a metal pole, he’s going to be good to go once the inevitable storming of the android’s castle compound takes place.
Well, actually Bronx Executioner never really trained with Warren. It turns out there never was a Warren at all! But that’s Woody Strode with someone’s dubbed voice saying he’s Warren, you say! No, that’s really Sam from The Final Executioner!
In the post-apocalyptic Bronx, resources (like training montages) are scarce, so it’s all about recycling! And that includes footage from other Italian movies!
Bronx Executioner gets his first big case when Dakar, the leader of the humanoids, comes to the office and asks for help in avenging the death of this human girl he had a crush on. Bronx Executioner initially refuses, but then hears the voice of Warren/Sam repeat the words of wisdom he left Bronx Executioner with.
It was something about not having any mercy on the ruthless, but always help those in need. Bronx Executioner stands there for about fifteen seconds hearing this in his mind while Dakar is just staring at him, then he announces he has changed his mind and will help Dakar after all! If Dakar was worried about Bronx Executioner’s odd behavior, he didn’t show it, but you know how those humanoids are!
Alex Vitale, who played the big Russian we loved to hate in Strike Commando, is now the humanoid with a heart we love to cheer on as he leads an assault with Bronx Executioner against the evil Margie and her android subjects!
And this dame is as evil as only an android named Margie can be! With her skimpy red get up and metal studded arm band and dog collar, you actually believe her when she announces that she only loves death and then adds for clarification, “the death of others of course!”
Later, after watching a video of the raping of Dakar’s gal pal, she declares that violence is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Shark who has a crush on her thinks this is an invitation to bump metal parts with her, but she tells him he’s just an android and therefore a zero. Gosh, that Margie is pure evil!
When the attack on Margie’s compound finally comes, it’s everything you hoped it would be and more! Director Vanio Amici proves that when it comes to recycling footage, he’s an equal opportunity recycler as he gives us repeats of scenes inside the android’s headquarters when Shark and Dakar are shooting each other’s people! I personally applaud Vanio for this as it saved me from have to rewind to watch the faceless extras getting blasted again and again like I’m prone to do.
Like all really great films, Bronx Executioner surpasses all expectations by the time it concludes. With Dakar dying, he tells Bronx Executioner about his dream to be like Bronx Executioner while some Bladerunner-inspired music plays in the background.
And just when you think the movie will be content to go out with the whole “he just wanted to be human” angle, it turns it up another dramatic notch! Bronx Executioner closes Dakar’s eyes, then drops his badge on Dakar and walks off into the breaking dawn as the camera dramatically pulls back before going to a freeze frame! A disillusioned Bronx Executioner quitting the force is the perfect ending! Especially since all the androids and humanoids killed each other!
Sure, Vanio may not have the directing credits of a Sergio Martino or Enzo G. Castellari, but with his killer and economical editing skills and a script from Piero Regnoli who also worked on scripts for Burial Ground and Nightmare City it all comes together just as you hoped it would. And by that I mean there are guys with perms, leather jackets, and headbands running around shooting one another.
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