Code Red hops aboard the DEVIL'S EXPRESS with Warhawk Tanzania in this inept yet unique slice of New York exploitation.
Black martial arts master Luke (Warhawk Tanzania, BLACK FORCE) travels to Hong Kong with his pupil Rodan (Wilfredo Roldan, VELVET SMOOTH), the leader of a street gang. While Luke is meditating in seclusion, Rodan shirks his bodyguard duty to explore the local ruins and discovers a cave with an ancient wooden coffin. He removes a medallion from the coffin lid and unleashes a two-thousand year old demon that follows Luke and Rodan back to New York. When bodies start turning up mutilated in the subways, Lieutenant Allen (Larry Fleishman, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN) believes that they are victims of the gang war between the blacks (lead by Rodan) and the Chinese, while his learned new partner Sam (Sam DeFazio) believes the culprits to be mutant cats and rats from the sewers. As the demon feeds off of the city's denizens, it may be up to Luke to challenge the monster head-on before it can attain invincibility.
Although hopelessly scattershot, DEVIL'S EXPRESS is immensely entertaining. Without the martial arts or gang war angles, it could have been a DEATH LINE/C.H.U.D.-esque monster movie. With all of these disparate elements, it would have been a Troma film had it been produced in the early 1980s (or at least a Troma pick-up). Tanzania is a rather underwhelming hero thanks to some lame fight choreography and coverage, as well his letting Rodan's cocaine dealing slide while arguing against using martial arts for gangland warfare. On the other hand, the film makes up for its so-so stalking/killing scenes and unexciting fights with memorable appearances from Brother Theodore as a raving Catholic priest, TV actress Sylvia Mann as a bag lady haranguing subway travelers with a rambling monologue about moral values, and some comic relief from Allen's partner. The soundtrack has some creepy cello cues and distorted/processed sounds for the horror scenes, as well as a grating love song for a padding montage with Luke and his wife, and a track for the fight scenes that sounds like a porn film library cue. Director David Durston (I DRINK YOUR BLOOD) has a cameo appearance as one of the subway victims.
Code Red's single-layer DVD features a progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer from the original negatives that ably conveys the funky décor, sunny New York exteriors, grainy underground, and the reds of the title card and occasional bloodshed. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is clean if not particularly impressive (although that's really down to the mix which often uses music in place of sound design or even location dialogue that it seems like the filmmakers just did not want to bother looping). The only extras for the film are two trailers for the film, one as DEVIL'S EXPRESS (0:30) – seen on several previous Code Red discs – and the other under the GANG WARS title (1:35) without reference to the supernatural content. The disc also includes trailers for DEATH PROMISE, THE BLACK DRAGON'S REVENGE (an Italian version of the trailer with English voiceover), RUNNING SCARED (a 1981 film by Paul Glicker, not the 1986 Gregory Hines/Billy Crystal film), "THIS IS A HIJACK!", and the baboon-on-the-loose film SHAKMA. (Eric Cotenas)
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