Title: Death Wish (1974) and Death Wish 2 (1982)
Director: Michael Winner
Cast: Charles Bronson, Hope Lange, Vincent Gardenia, Jeff Goldblum,
One thing popped into my mind while watching Charles Bronson mercilessly kicking crimes ass in Death Wish: “they just don’t make them like this anymore”. And that is true, stone cold classics like this aren’t made in these extremely PC, PG-13 days. Bad ass mother truckers like Charles Bronson aren’t born anymore either. I mean, Jason Statham might try to be as ice cold deadly as Bronson by remaking Bronson’s The Mechanic (1972) (which I will be reviewing soon) but he is a few bald spots short of portraying that hard ass/mean bastard persona that Bronson displayed so naturally. One icy cold stare from Bronson and you knew you were going to meet your maker. One look at a film like Death Wish and its obvious that action films have been as watered down same way that horror films have. Sad but true, action/horror films just don’t have the gravitas they used to. At least we still have these grimy revenge flicks on dvd to remind us of a bygone era in
Hollywood filmmaking, a time when filmmakers didn’t even take in consideration having their character do the right thing. Or the best thing, he simply did what had to be done.
Paul Kersey the architect, but his real passion is vigilantism.
Story for Death Wish concerns an architect called Paul Kersey (Bronson). Paul lives a great life with his wife and daughter. Film starts out with Paul and his wife on vacation in Hawaii, taking in the sunsets, enjoying a dinner by candlelight, basically, having a grand old time with his beautiful wife. But crime never sleeps, and so, one night, while Paul is still working in the office, a band of hoodlums that seem to have come straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) burst into his home and savagely attack his wife and daughter, effectively killing Paul’s wife. By the way, keep an eye open for a very young Jeff Goldblum who plays one of the rapists! This was Goldblum’s debut film. So anyways, the authorities promise to perform an investigation, but that’s as far as it goes. Paul knows the cops aren’t going to get anything really done in a city as big as
Death Wish took me back to those days when there were no video cameras in every square of inch of the city. This was a time when if you were waiting for the train at 2 a.m. and a group of thugs came into the subway, kicked you in the nuts, stole your wallet and took off running, no one would know it happened but you. The thug who did it would end up happily counting your hard earned cash in some dark corner of the city. I lived in
Gun behind the newspaper, oldest trick in the book!
But this is a film that looks at those criminals straight in the eyes and says “Screw you bastards! You’re all going down!” It has that “I’m not taking this shit anymore” vibe going for it. It’s a film with the mentality of someone who has decided to take matters into his own hands. Since there are no video cameras taping your every move, Paul Kersey can whip out his gun, blow away any criminal that attempts a vile act and simply walk away from the scene as if nothing had ever happened. Paul Kersey vengeful acts are fueled by what was done to his wife and daughter, but its crime in general who pays. He doesn’t just focus his vigilantism towards the ones who hurt his family; Paul Kersey goes out into the streets to declare war on all manner of thugs. Kersey goes from one scumbag to the next, blowing them away as best as his gun can, cleaning up the city for good. Doing what the police haven’t got the man power to do. In a way, Kersey ends up being a hero.
I saw Death Wish and Death Wish 2 (1982) over the weekend; while watching the second one, I couldn’t help feeling like I was watching the first one all over again. Yes my friends, Death Wish 2 is basically the exact same movie, with the exact same plot. It picks up where the first one left off; with Kersey trying to help his daughter lead a normal life again after the events of the first film. He’s got himself a new girlfriend and a new job in
In spite of Death Wish 2’s repetitiveness in storyline, it still manages to have its moments and some very memorable lines. One scene has Kersey following a group of criminals into an abandoned hotel. Upon coming face to face with one of the men who raped his daughter, Kersey notices that the perpetrator is wearing a crucifix on his neck. He asks the low life: “Do you believe in Jesus?” and the guy says “Yes” then Kersey tells him: “Well, you’re going to meet him!” and then BLAMO! Blows the guy away! No mercy for the wicked. Death Wish 1 and 2 were films of their time, they represented a frustration with the violence on the streets, and a desire for citizens to take matters into their own hands and protect themselves from the evil out there on the streets. Some studios backed away from producing these films because they considered them too controversial. They didn’t want to spread the idea of vigilantism amongst the populace and because they thought that a film with the word “Death” on its title wouldn’t sell tickets. Boy where they wrong! This franchise lasted all the way up to Death Wish 5: The Face of Death (1994), where Kersey still kicked ass even though Bronson was something like 72 years old when he made that film; evidence that Charles Bronson’s hard ass genes allow him to kick ass longer than any normal man would.
Rating Death Wish (1974): 4
Rating Death Wish 2 (1985): 3 1/2