Blu-ray Review: Death Promise

During the ’70s so many apartment buildings in New York City had caught fire or fallen into severe disrepair that neighborhoods looked like bombed out parts of Europe after World War II. The easy story was that the people living in these buildings vandalized them. But the documentary made a case that it was the owners of the buildings that hired goons to destroy them so they could collect insurance before tearing them down for bigger projects. It was all a scam and the poor tenants took the blame. Death Promise came out in 1977 when the Bronx burned. The film is about what happens when a man stands up to the rich and powerful. Although it helps when that man has the martial arts skills of an army. Death Promise is the ultimate film about real estate and kung fu revenge in the Big Apple

After a good workout Charley Roman (The Black Dragon Revenges the Death of Bruce Lee‘s Charles Bonet) returns home to discover his apartment is lacking power, gas and water. His father <i>Dark Shadows‘ Bob O’Connell) discovers thugs have ripped out the electrical cables. The duo beat back the intruders. But the trouble isn’t over. Another batch of goons arrive with boxes of rats to dump in a hallway. Who is behind such horrifying acts. The rich landlords who have a massive plan for those building. But they need to get them out of the streets before the wrecking ball arrives. When the father refuses a pay off from the building owner to back off on his crusade, he’s relocated to a nearby cemetery. Charley wants revenge, but knows his Kung Fu skills aren’t up to the level for what’s required to take on the men that must bite the dust for his father’s honor. He’s goes upstate to learn the secrets of how to kill with his hands. It’s bumpy training, but he returns to New York City with his body a complete lethal weapons. He doesn’t fight alone as his best friend Speedy Leacock joins his wrecking crew. But can they real put an end to the evil ways of real estate owners and their deadly tactics?

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Death Promise is a fine low budget action flick from the ’70s. The acting isn’t stilted. The marital arts fight scenes aren’t clunky. The plot keeps moving. The soundtrack has that funky vibe. This is the kind of film you can enjoy without feeling like you’re enduring the dull spots. Charles Bonet comes off more believable than Steven Seagal as a leading man that knows how to beatdown Bronx-style. For fans of New York City in the ’70s, this is a must watch for the details of the city, the fashion and the furniture. This is such a potent mix of Kung Fu in New York City. The final fight is on a rooftop so you can see the Empire State Building and The World Trade Towers in the distances. Death Promise delivers its promise.

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The video is 1.85:1. The transfer is a 2K scan from the original 35mm negative. There’s an occasional scratch, but nothing too nasty. The resolution upgrades the action. The audio is DTS-HD MA. You’ll hear all the bone cracking chops and kicks with the funky soundtrack. The movie is subtitled.

9,000 Feet in 90 Minutes (16:06) is an interview with editor Jim Markovic. He was deeply involved in making the film. It was his production company that made commercials. On the side, he would edit down feature films to make them safe for TV. This was how he met up with the people that wanted to make Death Promise. They wanted him to direct, but he recommended Robert Warmflash to helm. He was the one who realized the fight scenes weren’t blocked right so it wasn’t going to edit. Markovic gives deep background on the entire process.

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Original Theatrical Trailer (3:01) sets up how evil landlords are using evil thugs to chase tenants out of their buildings. It sets up the crisis perfectly. This is still being done today to renters across America.

Still Gallery (1:55) have artwork, promotional material, newspaper ads, production photos, posters, press book from the original release.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Death Promise. Directed by Robert Warmflash. Screenplay by: Norbert Albertson. Starring: Charles Bonet, Speedy Lecock, Kao Kang & Tony Liu. Running Time: 95 minutes. Rating: R Rated. Release Date: April 27, 2021

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