After their extremely impressive Death Wish 2 and 3 release, Umbrella Entertainment have released Charles Bronson’s final two vigilante epics on one Blu-ray with some nice extras.
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown
Having set up (again) as an architect Paul Kersey has a new girlfriend. As tragedy is never far away from Kersey, his girlfriend’s daughter dies of a drug overdose. Kersey decides to back into full vigilante mode and executes the drug dealer responsible for selling her the drugs. Unfortunately someone knows that the vigilante is up to his old ways and gives Kersey all the information and weaponry he needs to take down the two biggest drug cartels in Los Angeles. Death Wish 4: The Crackdown was the first in the series not be directed by Michael Winner, however J. Lee Thompson (a local boy in the city where I live) came on board. Thompson, a Bronson film veteran was also responsible for The Guns of Navarone and a couple of Planet of the Apes sequels so this guy knew his action.
There’s plenty going on here with Charlie using all kinds of ways to knock off the bad guys in particular a bomb disguised as a bottle of wine is quite ingenious. One of the scumbags here is Danny Trejo in a very early role. However his dummy which gets blown up is appalling, put that scene on slow motion and laugh at in the ineptitude of the effects. The action sequences are well staged, the supporting cast is suitably slimy (i.e. the bad guys) and poor old Kay Lenz is another in a long line of Charlie’s lady friends who you know probably won’t last to see the final credits.
Death Wish V: The Face of Death
The last ever Bronson film to be released theatrically was Allan Goldstein’s Death Wish V. Charlie was well into his 70’s then but still looked as hard as nails especially when wearing his trademark long coat. Kersey is in the witness protection scheme, no doubt after blowing away all of LA’s drug lords and is back in New York as a teacher. He has a fiancee (Lesley Anne-Down) who was previously married to mobster Tommy O’Shea played by Michael Parks. Anne-Down’s character is a fashion designer and when O’Shea tries to muscle in on her business she goes to the authorities. Of course that doesn’t bode well and soon Kersey is out for blood, complicating things further is that she had a daughter with O’Shea. Not as violent as the previous films but just as fun especially with some of the humour which usually comes from Parks who is having a blast playing O’Shea. A remote controlled football which blows up a gangster is particularly amusing. My only complaint (albeit a small one) is that the really bad 21st Century logo was left off at the beginning, one would assume it’s not Umbrella’s fault but MGM who now own the rights.
Extras wise on the disc are two very informative commentaries from Bronson expert Paul Talbot, trailers, TV spots and an excellent gallery of stills which has plenty of different posters and video covers of the films.
It’s a superb disc and definitely worth picking up if action and the legend that was Charles Bronson is your thing. On a personal historical note, Death Wish 4 was the only Death Wish film I ever saw at the pictures at a Cannon cinema which is now an O2 Academy.
- Starring Charles Bronson John P. Ryan Kenneth Welsh Saul Rubinek
- Directors J. Lee Thompson and Allan A. Goldstein
- Distributor Umbrella Entertainment