The Big Picture
- Robert Bronzi, a Hungarian actor who resembles Charles Bronson, has built a movie career based solely on his likeness to the late actor.
- Director Rene Perez discovered Bronzi and decided to create movies centered on Bronzi playing Bronson-like characters.
- Bronzi’s acting ability and Hungarian accent have been overcome with dubbing, and he has starred in several direct-to-video films, with more on the way.
Okay folks, hypothetical situation. Let’s say you look like a famed, long-dead actor. Let’s say Charles Bronson for kicks and giggles. Now, let’s say you have very, very little acting experience, and what you have is limited to appearances in European Wild West stunt shows. Add in a thick Hungarian accent, one that is difficult to understand. Do you think you would be able to start — and sustain — a movie career on what is essentially the merits of your face? If you said no, well, you completely do not understand just how weird Hollywood can be because there’s one man who lives in that exact scenario and has been making Bronson-like direct-to-video films since 2017: Robert Bronzi.
Known by fans through three names — Bronzi, The Bronz, and Robert Bronzarelli — one man has managed to have cinephiles do double-takes for years all because he shares a face with the late great Charles Bronson. The actor, whose real name is Robert Kovacs, rose to fame (so to speak), from a very humble background. The son of a coal miner, Kovacs was born outside of Budapest in 1956. Growing up, he took care of livestock and worked towards a career in carpentry, and in his spare time would watch American Westerns at the local theater. When a close friend noted that Bronzi had an uncanny resemblance to Bronson, Kovacs went all in to become Robert Bronzi; styling his hair and growing a mustache like the famed actor, completing the look. He took acting classes, and when he didn’t get his money back on those classes, he began working in Wild West shows, where he further developed his riding skills alongside learning how to perform stunt work.
How Did a Charles Bronson Impersonator Get Into the Movies?
So this director walks into a Spanish bar… no, it’s not a joke, it’s real. Director Rene Perez walks into a bar in Spain and sees a photo of Charles Bronson on the wall. Unable to place which film the photo was from, he asked the bartender who said that was Bronzi. Perez was intrigued and met with Bronzi to float the idea of building entire movies centered on Bronzi playing Bronson-like characters. It turns out that Bronzi had already been working as a Charles Bronson impersonator for kid’s parties and events, so he was up for the challenge.
Before we get too far ahead in the Bronzinator’s ascent in some C-movies, let’s flesh out Perez’s idea a bit more. As it is known, Perez deals in direct-to-video releases, and getting any recognizable face attached to your film is gold. The king of the practice is producer Randall Emmett, whose “geezer teasers” bring in big names like Steven Seagal (Mercenary for Justice), Bruce Willis (Survive the Night), and Nicolas Cage (the infamous The Wicker Man remake) for appearances in his movies, simply to have a marquee name that catches the eye of those going through video-on-demand lists. But in the absence of Bronson, Perez brought in the next best thing with Bronzi, as his geezer star face for Bronson-like characters. For reference, think less The Magnificent Seven or Once Upon a Time in the West, and more Family of Cops III: Under Suspicion — or Death Wish XXV: Seriously Wishing for Death Here, Kill Me Already.
War movies would never be the same!
How the Hungarian Charles Bronson Makes Movies
Perez flew Bronzi from Spain to America for his first film, 2017’s From Hell to the Wild West, playing a man on the hunt for a psychotic killer in the American frontier who might just be Jack the Ripper. The acting is stiff and awkward, and expressing pain and anguish does indeed result in believable pain and anguish (from those watching this film for work). The dialogue is stilted, but that isn’t necessarily all on Bronzi as his thick Hungarian accent prompted Perez to have his lines dubbed. Sweet deal, actually, with Bronzi simply having to stand all Bronson-like while someone else does his dialogue. Perez and Bronzi worked on three more films together: 2018’s Death Kiss, 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Deadwood, and Cry Havoc in 2020. Death Kiss earns bonus points as being perhaps the most Bronson-like of the Bronson-like films, where a vigilante with a mysterious past protects and saves a young mom and her child. So pseudo-Death Wish, but with a great tagline in “Justice has a familiar face,” which is quite clever. And to top it off, Daniel Baldwin, as if you weren’t already stoked beyond belief about the film, stars as well.
Bronzi would move on from Perez to — ahem — star in films like Escape from Death Block 13 as a tough, wrongly convicted inmate; The Gardener as a tough gardener who uses his old skills to protect the family he works for from home invaders; and Exorcist Vengeance, where he plays Father Jozsef, a tough priest given the job of calling out a murderous demon from a variety of suspects. In doing so, Bronzi elevated his acting acumen by looking and being tough, but this time in different professions. The Bronzi Express shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon either, with not one, not two, but six upcoming films in varying degrees of production. If you’re a gambler of sorts, the smart money is on Bronzi’s characters bearing the adjective “tough.”
So take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror, see who you look like from Hollywood’s long history, and remember the lessons the Mighty Bronz has taught us. Acting ability? Don’t need it. Is enunciation unhindered by thick European accents? Tosh, please. Simply put your picture up in a local watering hole and wait for your call to the big leagues. Because if it can happen for Bronzi, it damn well can happen for you too. Or, if you’re reading this article and happen to be searching for a celebrity lookalike, yours truly is available for your Brad Pitt-like feature films. Sometimes you just need to bear the cross you’ve been given in life.
Escape from Death Block 13
After the death of his brother, Mick travels to America to seek Justice. Wrongly convicted of extortion and attempted murder, Mick is sent to Pleasant Hill Penitentiary’s notorious death block 13. Seething with revenge after discovering the truth behind his brother’s death, Mick’s rage ignites an explosive riot as he makes a daring escape from death block 13.
- Release Date
- November 2, 2021
- Gary Jones
- Nicholas Turturro , Robert Bronzi , Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs , Debbie Scaletta , Chris Hahn , Jeffrey Miller
Escape from Death Block 13 is available to stream on Prime Video in the U.S.