11 user 19 critic

Gang Wars (1976)

A tough black martial artist cop takes on warring street gangs and an evil demon that haunts the New York City subways.


Barry Rosen


Barry Rosen (original screenplay), Niki Patton (original screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elsie Roman Elsie Roman
Warhawk Tanzania ... Luke (as War Hawk Tanzania)
Larry Fleischman Larry Fleischman ... Cris (as Larry Fleishman)
Wilfredo Roldan Wilfredo Roldan ... Rodan
Stephen DeFazio Stephen DeFazio ... Sam
Brother Theodore
Moses Lyllia Moses Lyllia ... (as Moses Illiya)
Tsikagi Tanzania Tsikagi Tanzania ... (as Tsikagi Iron Preist-Tanzania)
Yoshiteru Otani Yoshiteru Otani ... Warrior
Guy King Guy King ... Priest / Dopedealer
Nobu Iwasawa Nobu Iwasawa ... Priest
Clint Chin Clint Chin ... Priest
Masaki Oishi Masaki Oishi ... Priest
Thomas Lee Thomas Lee ... Priest
Thomas D. Anglin Thomas D. Anglin ... Tom (as Tom Anglin)


A no-nonsense African-American cop, Warhawk Tanzania, who also happens to be a martial arts master, tries to put an end to a brutal gang war that's raging in the streets of New York. Eventually, he also discovers that they aren't his only problem, since an actual demon has been accidentally released by a maintenance worker and is now attacking and killing people in the subway tunnels. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Take the Express train to TERROR!!! See more »








Release Date:

7 September 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Phantom of the Subway See more »


Box Office


$100,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mahler Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Despite the low budget, the filmmakers had permits for all the various locations used in this movie. See more »


Devil's Express
© 1975 Rising Sun
By Niki Patton
See more »

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User Reviews

Modest but fun kung fu/blaxploitation/horror trash
14 December 2011 | by BloodwankSee all my reviews

Yeah, this one is a good ways away from being as awesome as it might have been. Which is not to say that its a complete failure, rather that those enticed by its combination of genres into thinking it might be some trash colossus should substantially downgrade their expectations. It reminded me most of some of the better works of Godfrey Ho, those films in which the cut 'n splice ninja flick maestro actually had an original script and a cast of semi capable performers. Inept, insane and idiotic in roughly equal measures, but conducted with verve and never dull. The inspired story is of martial arts school leader Luke Curtis who goes to visit his sifu in Hong Kong along with his shiftless buddy Roldan (though I preferred the subtitles in which his name was Rodan) who steals a sacred medallion and unleashes a demon, who returns to New York, possesses a Chinese man and sets up shop in a subway, killing at random and contributing to a race war between Chinese and black gangs. Lots of fighting ensues, as well as plenty of laughter. The attitude behind the writing seems to have been to cram the film with incident so that the audience could never relax and process the cinematic shortcomings. So more or less every moment has either fighting, people saying stupid things, the monster dragging people to their doom or spurts of picturesque photography in the Hong Kong section or vintage urban grime in the rest. The fighting isn't especially convincing (plenty of blows fall obviously wide plus some dodgy framing and people moving at unrealistic speeds), but it's a lot better than expected, with a cast that at least know how to move and a shooting style that lets you see whats going on. It helps that much of the fighting involves hero Luke, played by the awesomely named and almost as awesomely afroed War Hawk Tanzania. His character isn't as badass as his name but he has a solid presence and carries the film nicely, delivering his frequently hilarious jive dialogue with aplomb. In fact everyone gives it their all, even extras like a nasty old bag lady, crazy street preacher or clueless cop. Sadly the monster scenes are quite weak and there are only a couple of gore shots, also the dodgy quality of current available prints renders the subway scenes too dark. The climax is too abrupt as well, though when ultimately revealed the monster is kinda cool in a cheap-jack kinda way. Altogether its a likable rather than good film and a bit tricky to fully appreciate until a spruced up DVD appears, but trash junkies could do far worse with 80 minutes of their time. Slightly generous 6/10 from me...

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