Death Promise (1977)

It Stinks!

Directed by Robert Warmflash

Written by Norbert Albertson

Starring Charles Bonet, Speedy Leacock, Bill Louie, Thompson Kao Kang, Vincent Van Lynn, Thom Kendell, Abe Handy, David Kirk, Tony Liu, & Bob O’Connell (as Rocky Crevice)

Release Date: August 1977

Running Time: 1hr 35min

Rating: R

I’m just gonna say it now, this movie is amazing! Oh sure, it’s not what you would call a “good movie” or “competently made” or “well acted,” but it’s entertaining as hell! I first saw this gem thanks to the comedic geniuses of RiffTrax, which is among my favorite of their riffs.

A group of stereotypical slumlords join forces to try to drive tenants out of a seedy New York apartment building, so they can renovate the building and jack up the rent.

E. Bartley Alden, (Lynn; rich white guy with a walking stick who wants to get richer, de facto leader)

Albano (De Caprio; fat Italian mafia goomba, also enjoys archery)

Mursky (Kendell; Jewish guy with beard, there’s really not much else there so he’s basically the least offensive stereotype)

Judge Engstrom (Kirk; racist grandpa who constantly complains about the “welfare queens,” the law being twisted to help “those sorts,” and wanting things to go back to the “values this country was founded on,” the kinda guy who masturbates to right wing news and Alex Jones podcasts)

Emmanuel Jackson Jr. (Hendy; black pimp drug dealer, probably the most on the nose stereotype)

Alden also has his own boss in the form of guy in chair petting a cat (seen from behind, of course), I have no idea if the other slumlords are aware of cat guy. [I’d like to take this moment to discuss the wardrobe in this movie. It’s absolutely atrocious! This is worst in 1970s fashion, you could go blind looking at these patterns too long. I would say have a drink every time a new hideous pattern appears on screen, but I don’t want to be held accountable for the people that would die from alcohol poisoning!]

So what’s making it so difficult for them to get the tenants to move out? An overweight, middle aged ex-boxer named Louis Roman (O’Connell, easily the best actor in the film, he may shout a lot but there does seem to be some genuine effort put in), who’s motivated the others to stand their ground. Louis also has a son Charley (Bonet) who along with his best friend, Speedy (Leacock), are karate students under the tutelage of Master Shibata (Kang). [Shibata is supposed to be Japanese, but the actor at times clearly speaks Mandarin.]

Alden attempts to bribe Louis with $10,000, turns it down; the aging boxer can’t stand the idea of rich pigs thinking they can just pay off people while living in their mansions with their fat assed wives. When this fails, Alden calls up each slumlord individually to see if they all agree to just take Louis out. Of course they have a bit of a moral quandary when it comes to these kind of decisions and…yeah, yeah, you know that’s total bullshit, they just have him killed. Naturally, Charley vows revenge! That’s all I wanna say about that, see the movie yourself to see what happens!

I stand by what I said at the very beginning, this movie is amazing! It’s one of many low budget exploitation films of the era cashing in on the martial arts craze started by Bruce Lee (complete with hairstyle and loud noises). There’s a lot of energy throughout the film which leads to a fun viewing. I think it can be enjoyed on its own (it can be watched for free on Prime Video), but if you prefer some top notch comedic commentary, I highly recommend RiffTrax (which you can also rent or buy via Prime Video).

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