Devil’s Express (1976)

Luke Curtis (War Hawk Tanzania) is a New York City martial arts instructor.  He is ready to advance in rank to master and must travel to Hong Kong for a week of fun and a week of training and testing before he is awarded his new title.  He chooses his favorite student Rodan (Wifredo Roldan) to accompany him.  Unfortunately, his favorite student is a greasy drug dealing gang member who fails in his simple task of guarding his master as he meditates.  He instead steals a medallion which keeps a demon trapped inadvertently unleashing the 2000 year old entity on the city of New York as it tracks him down in order to destroy the amulet and ensure his freedom.  

The demon possesses a Chinese businessman and sails to New York City where he moves into the subway killing and possessing others whenever they cross his path.  Gang violence escalates between Ro’s gang and the Chinese gang when they screw him over in a drug deal gone south.  The Chinese gang ramp up their attacks when they notice the amulet Rodan is wearing until they finally capture the necklace.  The demon then lures Rodan into the subway and kills him unaware that the human no longer has his prize.  All the while the NYPD is working the case and baffled by the violence of the murders and their concentration around Luke’s dojo.  Detective Chris (Larry Fleischman) is a student of Luke’s but he has an uneasy arrangement with him.  Luke hates The Man and only teaches Chris to repay a favor.  When Chris comes to Luke with his concerns he nearly gets his ass kicked and Luke warns him off never wanting to see him again.

Before he takes apart the Chinese gang single handed he decides to hear them out and visits on elderly scholar who schools him on the amulet that his student had stolen.  He seems to have had an awful lot of faith in his skeezy drug dealing buddy because he thinks Rodan returned it when he was caught with it in Hong Kong.  Feeling responsible for the situation Luke takes the amulet and his finest gold lamé overalls into the subway to throw down with the demon and its ever-changing forms once and for all.  

The supporting cast has better acting chops than War Hawk does and that is not saying much.  He is woefully underused as a martial artist in this film and spends most of his time spitting lines and mugging for the camera.  Roldan, the other principal, is equally lousy.  War Hawk only did one other film while Roldan has done four–he has been in both of Tanzania’s flicks and then a short in 2010.  The film also has one of the worst cases of yellow-face I’ve seen.  Of course it could have been botched aging make up but it’s hard to tell.  Some fans will also pick out Brother Theodore doing his kooky thing as a priest which is real treat as he gets riled up at the subway entrance.

This flick has been on Code Red fans’ radar for quite awhile and now that its finally here they won’t be disappointed.  The picture quality is the best that this film has ever had and likely will ever get.  There is a brief scene where the dialog seems to be out of sync but it doesn’t last long maybe a minute.  The trailers included on the disc will probably get some folks excited as there are some fun kung fu flicks and even a killer primate flick. 

While lacking special features the Code Red release is swimming in trailers for upcoming releases.  There is a forced trailer for THE KING OF KUNG FU, and trailers for DEATH PROMISE, THE BLACK DRAGON REVENGES THE DEATH OF BRUCE LEE, RUNNING SCARED, THIS IS A HIJACK!, and SHAKMA.  There are feature trailers for the film under both titles THE DEVIL’S EXPRESS and GANG WARS.  These show how vastly different the film was pitched under each title the first focusing on the supernatural element and the second on the gang element each ignoring the other.  DEVIL’S EXPRESS is available directly from Code Red’s webshop.

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