No action fan’s life is complete without seeing “Death Wish 3.” Back in New York to visit an old Korean War buddy, Bronson’s friend is soon killed and he is shocked to see what bad shape the slums of New York are in. To protect several new friends including Martin Balsam from a multiethnic neo-punk gang, Bronson, with the help of the local police chief, once again takes the law into his own hands.
Whereas the first two ‘Death Wish” movies took themselves seriously, this one is a romp in the Bronx. To begin with, we are presented with the idea that the N.Y. police would be cool with Bronson being a vigilante as long as he keeps them up to date on his activities. Then, we are asked to accept multi-ethnic, neo-punk gangs as plausible. This is easy to do because the bulk of the movie is Bronson killing people with his Colt Cobra until he gets bored with that and starts using a rocket launcher. Naturally, his new squeeze, a public defender, is killed, upping the ante even more.
“Death Wish 3” got really bad reviews because the critics didn’t realize IT’S A JOKE! The director, Michael Winner, had exhausted all plausible ideas with the first two films and, realizing what a strange place America was in 1985, decided to camp it up! If you’ve been dying to see Alex Winter as a heavy who needs to be dispatched by Bronson, look no further. If you’re looking for something that makes “Cobra” look realistic, you’re in luck! If you’re looking for a plausible thriller starring Bronson, try the first “Death Wish” or the original “Mechanic.” But for campy drive-in trash, “Death Wish 3” can’t be beat!
One of the most underrated film series, the “Death Wish” series, triumphs again with “Death Wish 4: The Crackdown.” A 1987 Cannon film starring Charles Bronson, it finds legendary vigilante Paul Kersey (Bronson) EXTREMELY angry when his live-in girlfriend’s daughter dies as a result of a drug overdose. Rather than letting the authorities handle it, Bronson becomes a one-man army again and kills off anyone with any connection to drugs. Apparently a fan of “Yojimbo” and “A Fistful of Dollars,” Bronson pits two drug cartels against each other resulting in MASSIVE casualties.
This film features a woman saying about her sleazy date “I wish he’d drop dead!” right before he gets thrown off a building and onto her taxi. It also features this classic dialogue exchange: “I can be real nasty when I want to be.” Bronson: “So can I!” This film has a shootout at the end in a roller-skating rink/video games. It has Bronson watching the gangs in partially open doors in hotel rooms and NOT BEING NOTICED! It has Bronson killing people with bazookas and grenade launchers. It has a completely gratuitous dream sequence. It even has Danny Trejo in it! This flick doesn’t seem like much at first but then it surprises. I love the extreme anti-drug message; apparently you’re likely to die from your first hit of cocaine! Available for $10 on Blu-ray as part of a “Death Wish Triple Feature” with “Death Wish 2” and “Death Wish 3,” this is an exploitative delight and not to be missed by fans of good trash!
Whenever you’re looking for quick action fix, you can’t do any better than a 1970’s or a 1980’s Charles Bronson film, but for different reasons. The 1970’s films like “Death Wish,” “The Mechanic,” and “Hard Times” are genuine classics, whereas the 1980’s films like “Death Wish 2,” “Death Wish 3” and “Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects” are so-bad-they’re-good. “St. Ives,” a 1976 film I just watched, falls into the former category. It has a “Chinatown” film noir feeling that I really like, and the music is appropriate for the time.
The cast includes John Houseman, Jacqueline Bisset, Maximallian Schell, and also Jeff Goldblum and Robert Englund as hoods. Bronson plays Raymond St. Ives, a crime reporter and ex-policeman who is hired by the nefarious John Houseman to retrieve five stolen ledgers. Many deaths ensue, and Bronson ends up spear-heading a robbery to get revenge for a job gone wrong. My favorite scene in the movie is the first, in which Bronson is being confronted and accused at gunpoint, which throws us into the narrative right away because we want to know why he’s in trouble. This film is classic 1970’s cinema because it combines action, conspiracy, and a detective story. The director, J. Lee Thompson, made “Cape Fear” and “The Guns of Navarone,” as well as 8 other Charles Bronson films. This is probably the best one. If you’re looking for a classic 1970’s Charles Bronson experience look no further than “St. Ives”!