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Death Wish (1974)

Charles Bronson  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)

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Death Wish Death Wish 4.4 out of 5 stars (237)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Bronson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: PARAMOUNT
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2006
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000541AN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,361 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Death Wish" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In this explosive story of revenge and urban violence, Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a bleeding-heart liberal who has a change of opinion after his wide and daughter are violently attacked by a gang of thugs in their apartment. His daughter is raped, and his wife is raped and murdered. Bronson then turns vigilante as he stalks the mean streets of New York on the prowl for muggers, hoodlums and the like. Death Wish is a violent, controversial film that is frank and original in its treatment of urban crime and the average citizen's helplessness in dealing with it. Herbie Hancock wrote the musical score. And watch for a young Jeff Goldblum in his film debut as one of the thugs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New York in the 70's WAS that bad September 3, 2004
As late as the 1990s, a midnight walk through Central Park or Prospect Park or Riverside Drive or just about any secluded area in New York City was tantamount to asking to be victimized. So to those skeptics who can't believe New York was that bad in the 1970s, I say "Believe it!"


Years before Peter Finch, as Howard Beale in NETWORK, chanted, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!", Charles Bronson's Paul Kersey was well beyond that point. DEATH WISH, among other things is a gritty, unflinching look at the violence urban dwellers all over America faced in the 1970s. Paul Kersey, an Upper West Sider, discovers that his wife has been murdered, and his daughter raped and beaten by intruders. In an interesting twist on movie convention, Kersey doesn't seek revenge by going after the men who destroyed his family: he goes after any and all criminals. Bronson's portrayal of an average guy who, in stages, progresses from amateur to super-vigilante, is very credible. The psychological complexities are intriguing. On one level, he can't let go of the past, so he continues his rampage. However, at the same time, he redecorates his apartment and berates his son-in-law for living in the past. But it makes sense. His daytime self wants to be normal, his night-time--darker--side is bloodthirsty.

There is also an ethical complexity to this film. We all know, somewhere in our moral calculus, that vigilantism only promotes chaos and anarchy. We know we need a police department to enforce our laws. But what happens when that law enforcement is too bogged down by red tape, overwork, and apathy? Paul Kersey did seek justice through proper channels, harrassing the police to move more quickly on the case.
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97 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After 30 years, questions still remain.... October 9, 2003
This is the first of several films featuring Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, a modern day urban equivalent of Robin Hood, Zorro, and the Lone Ranger. When initially released, Death Wish was immediately controversial as was Dirty Harry (1971). Audiences tended to be divided between those who were offended by what they considered to be excessive violence and those who (like Harry Callahan and Paul Kersey) had lost confidence in society's willingness and/or ability to respond effectively to violent crime. After seeing each of the two films for the first time, I vividly recall joining those around me in the theatre as they rose and cheered...and continued to applaud for several minutes. (By the way, that was the same audience reaction when I first saw Walking Tall.) I asked myself, "What's going on here? What's this all about?"
At least in the larger U.S. cities 30 years ago, residents had become totally fed up with traditional law enforcement initiatives. It was no longer safe to walk the streets at night. Even more dangerous to do so in public parks. Homes were robbed while people worked during the day. Many of the same homes were robbed again later after insurance coverage replaced the articles previously stolen. Racial animosities, drug abuse, and a widespread contempt for institutional authority all contributed to such problems.
When we first meet Kersey, he is in all respects a gentle man. A successful architect who is happily married (Joanna, Hope Lange) and a proud father of his beloved daughter, he is carefully positioned as a law-abiding citizen. To repeat, a gentle man. Over time, after his wife and daughter are brutally attacked by thugs who escape punishment, Kersey commits himself to ridding the city of such creatures. In fact, he seeks them out in the most likely areas (e.g.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernard Goetz's Mentor March 31, 2001
Paul Kersy (Charles Bronson) --resident of Manhattan's upper west side in the early 1970's-- comes home one day to find his wife murdered and his daughter so brutally raped that she becomes institutionalized. Later Paul decides to make himself a regular target for street criminals, only he fights back with deadly force. Paul doesn't actually provoke the criminals who attack him, he merely presents a apparently passive target of opportunity. After a while Paul's activities have a deterrent effect on street crime to the embarrassment the DA, the police, and the city politicians. So the police launch an investigation to find who is killing criminals and put a stop to it. Eventually with good detective work, the police find Paul, but there they a political problem. They know Paul will be a hero, so they can't arrest him, they just have to make him stop, and this they do by cutting a deal for him to leave town. Bronson's performance is somewhat wooden, but effective. Unquestionably this film exploits its audience, you can't help but cheer for Paul, loathe his attackers, and resent the authorities. The movie was and is controversial. The liberals hate it, the conservatives love it. The move has been attacked as exaggerating the danger of urban crime. It doesn't. I lived in the very area and at the very time of the movie. Virtually everyone I knew (including myself) had some kind of incident with a street criminal. The movie is not realistic with regard to what would have happened to Paul Kersy once found out. He would have been arrested and charged with illegal possession of a firearm, and other felonies. He would have been attacked on the editorial page of the New York Times, by Mayor Lindsey, the police commissioner and slew of newspaper columnists and TV commentators. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 days ago by Peter P.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie. A lot of action.
Published 5 days ago by Richard Mierzejewski
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story-Acting-Action
It has been a long time since I watched this movie. I remembered it as being good. Well, for the age of the movie and when it was released (1974), it was excellent with the story... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Bill Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Before "Taken," Charles Bronson Had Skills...
A cathartic viewing experience as Charles Bronson embarks on a mission to settle a score with his city's criminal demimonde. Raw, intense, visceral. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Mr. Lucky
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love it
Published 22 days ago by Tim Hartsook
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Published 22 days ago by J. D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie. It arrived in perfect condition.
Published 1 month ago by Eddie
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, realistic tell of impersonal revenge
I had avoided this movie for decades because it was one of those old action movies I remember in the VHS shelves at Blockbuster, Moovies, and other video stores I went to as a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dan tdaxp
5.0 out of 5 stars If you watch this one you will not be disappointed. Charles Bronson...
A classic! So many modern day spin offs have been based upon this movie. If you watch this one you will not be disappointed. Charles Bronson plays the role perfectly. Thanks!
Published 1 month ago by Enjoy the music
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Picture
Published 1 month ago by ole freddy nyborg
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