The Bronx Executioner (1989)

The Bronx Executioner (1989)- * * *

Directed by: Vanio Amici

Starring: Alex Vitale, Margie Newton, Gabriele Gori, and Woody Strode

“I need a box!” - Dakar

In the future, the Bronx is divided into two zones: the one controlled by the humanoids, and the one controlled by the androids. Rather than celebrate how similar they are to each other, they’re constantly at war. The androids are led by the beautiful Margie (Newton), and the humanoids are led by the great Dakar (Vitale), a robot/meathead hybrid with a surprisingly sensitive soul. When James (Gori) enters the fray, he yearns to be Sheriff of the Bronx. Why, we don’t know, but he must go through an extensive training regimen from Warren (Strode), the old salt who is getting on in years and wants to make James his successor in the profession of keeping the peace between the humanoids and the androids. Dakar, wanting revenge for what his rivals did to his lost love, forges an uneasy alliance with James. Despite the fact that none of this makes a lick of sense, someone will have to be...THE BRONX EXECUTIONER!

The Bronx Executioner is a great example of how to make a movie out of nothing. All the Woody Strode footage is from The Final Executioner (1984), and we think some of the Margit Newton footage is too. Director Amici then fashioned some footage to wrap around the rather puzzling remainder, and the result is completely incoherent, but about 80% entertaining. For this type of movie, who needs consistency and continuity anyway? Those things are boring. We’d take The Bronx Executioner - which is like an Italian version of a Godfrey Ho movie - over a lot of other possible choices.

Perhaps the best reason to recommend this movie is Alex Vitale as Dakar. This is a man-mountain who is too muscular for even the most basic shirt. He’s practically as tall as he is wide. Yet, he has feelings - call him an “emohead” if you will. Just about everything he says is pure gold, and simply watching him walk is more entertaining than several Seagal movies combined. Vitale appeared in Comeuppance classics such as Hands of Steel (1986) and Strike Commando (1987), but here he really comes out to shine. In the world of 80’s Italian action, he truly is a star.

The rest of this mix n’match mishmash of goulash contains dudes on motorbikes poppin’ wheelies in a rock quarry, lots of bang-bang shooting, great costumes, do-it-yourself tech, guys who twirl before they shoot, guys who twirl after they’ve been shot, classic NYC footage including the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center towers, Paolo Rustichelli music, and a rather obvious Woody Strode stand-in for when Gabriele Gori is talking to “him”, dogs controlled by beeping lights, a Dakar/dog fight, and the time-honored Final Warehouse Fight. There’s a lot of other stuff jumbled in, but why list it all? You’ll be seeing it eventually, especially because the DVD is available for a dollar in most places where it’s sold.

Yes, there are some slow moments, and the movie loses momentum after the halfway mark (we would say it loses direction, but that would imply it ever had one), but if you’ve ever wanted to see a training sequence where the trainer isn’t there, this is the movie for you. It’s all wonderfully 80’s - they truly don’t make ‘em like this anymore, and solely for the archival value, The Bronx Executioner is worth watching, if not owning. 

But, honestly, it’s not in the same league as gems like Escape From the Bronx (1983) or 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982), which are movies all of a piece and not cobbled together, so maybe it’s an unfair comparison. But you have to love the 80’s - Italian-made “Bronx” movies were so hot in video stores, someone thought they would capitalize on that. It truly was a magical time.

Though he did other things in the Italian film industry, most notably as an editor, this is the only writing or directing credit for Vanio Amici. The mind boggles upon thinking what his other projects might have looked like. At least he added to the rich tapestry of 80’s video-store movies with his lone offering. While the DVD is dirt-cheap, according to the Video Hound, the VHS version contains an intro by none other than Michael Dudikoff. That might be worth tracking down just to see what he could possibly have to say about The Bronx Executioner - a neglected Italian actioner from a time when coherency was not even close to being king. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


Roger Renman said...

The Dude didn’t really have anything interesting to read off the cue card: https://youtu.be/u5ZmIKJykfg

Ty said...

Haha! You're absolutely right. He just goes through the motions.