The Devil’s Express (1976)
Directed by Barry Rosen
Starring Warhawk Tanzania, Wilfredo Roldan, Larry Fleischman
aka Gang Wars
I had never even heard of The Devil’s Express until a friend gave me what looks to be a copy of a Dutch release. The story involves an urban karate master (played by the amazingly monikered Warhawk Tanzania) who must rid the NYC subway of a Chinese demon that was unwittingly released by his brash friend. The movie is a fun mix of kung fu, blaxploitation, monster movie and police procedural. The colorful cast (including weirdo comedian Brother Theodore in a cameo) all give enjoyable, naturalistic performances, and the action sequences are actually pretty well choreographed. There’s also a propulsive funk soundtrack, a bit of gore, and the big baddie looks pretty neat, although it was sort of hard to see him on the murky print I watched. Perhaps best of all, the film features that great 70s New York atmosphere throughout.
Fast moving and surprisingly competent, The Devil’s Express is a relatively light-hearted exploitation mash-up and I think cult film fans of all stripes will probably get a kick out of it. Hopefully it gets a proper, cleaned up release some day. I guess Code Red announced they had found the original negative but that was back in 2008.
Fun Fact! - Larry Fleischman, who does a good job as the lead cop here, also appears in Mulberry Street, another great New York indie genre film released 30 years later.
If you want to discuss this movie in depth, come join us at Cinephobia’s Mortuary.
Immeasurable amounts of love for this gif set.