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(Aug 02, 2006)
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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.
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Michael Winner directed DEATH WISH with a "clinical" and cold precision that helps the violence maintain a grim, nothing short of chilling realism. I have to admit (agree) the flaws include how easy it appears for Bronson (Paul Kersey) to step outside, sit on the subway and a hoodlum finds him! Sucker!
But, I love (maybe "love" not the right word...) the way Bronson as the average, successful business man becomes physically ill after his first 'planned mugging' (armed 'swinging' a pound of coins in black sock!).
Vincent Gardenia is good and (sort of) likeable as NYC cop investigating the 'vigilante murders'.
Yes, Jeff Goldblum makes his debut as a street punk(?) (not very dangerous, really).
Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs ("Cooley High"; and "Welcome Back Cotter" fame!) also plays a street punk.
Overall DEATH WISH is a good watch and study with Bronson's, Paul Kersey mental state really (it's right there in the title of movie...) supposed to be an issue here.
DEATH WISH should have been a one shot and done 'character study' of vigilante-ism: right or wrong? More an anecdote - not an antidote - for street justice ... if there is such a thing?
Again, the sequels were a complete waste of time that can't even hold a candle to Dirty Harry's sequels (not that they were all that great either).
The original DEATH WISH, though, was/is well worth the time and the "food for thought" effort.
Also, Herbie Hancock wrote the music combining a classy jazz score, with eerie 'sounds' and undertones. A Nice touch indeed to a good movie about a violent subject matter with a point (even if there is no answer).
this 2006 video release is in Widescreen adding, only, a movie Trailer with Leslie Nielsen (if it's not him...I'm shocked) narrating which had me thinking I was about to hear a "Naked Gun and/or Airplane" joke although Nielsen had not appeared in either, yet. Anyways, Nielsen sounds wrong for the DEATH WISH trailer which should be serious but, somehow, Nielsen actually sounds like he's ready for comedy. Could be me. Worth a listen, though, no?!
But there are some characters in this film, in particular many of the muggers, who act just like some of the shady characters in the film "Hollywood Shuffle" (HS) that were acting in the movie-in-a-movie, in particular "Tommie." I wonder if Robert Townsend used some of the footage from this film as inspiration for that very funny film? But there were quite a few actors in HS that were also in ILC, and so there may have been some kind of connection there.
And if you watch this film today, you'll notice some other characters that will make you laugh: Jeff Goldblum from film, and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs from "Welcome Back Kotter," in particular. At least I got a few laughs with these characters, especially Mr. Goldblum as he was so young when this was filmed. But you also should consider some interesting coincidences as well, such as the fact that "Death Wish" (DW) was filmed almost exactly 10 years before Bernard Goetz introduced his own version of vigilante justice on a very similar subway in New York. I wonder if Mr. Goetz was influenced by this film? You have to think that he was.
While watching, I did think about the idea that so-called modern-day "civilized" man has made things worse nowadays, with regards to crime. Back in the 1800s, probably everyone carried a gun, and the wannabe criminals knew it. Therefore, criminals were less likely to commit crime. As a matter of fact, there are some towns today that REQUIRE everyone to carry a gun, and crime rates tend to be very low in those towns. But in DW, Charles Bronson wonders about this idea himself with an exchange with his son or perhaps son-in-law. (I have to admit, that relationship was a little confusing to me here). But I do think that American society has gone too far protecting criminals and I wonder what the end game will be on that.
I haven't seen this film in probably 20 years, and this is the first time I'm seen it in widescreen HD. The digital transfer is stunning, and it's always fun to go back and watch some good or great older films that have been fully restored. And the video quality here through streaming does not disappoint.
Well, there are a lot of contrived scenarios here, scenarios which allow Mr. Bronson to run into many criminals. Even in New York, in the 70s, I can't believe that anyone would run into that many criminals in such a short span of time. So while I surely enjoyed this film, I can't go 5, but I'll go with a strong 4. Just remember, kids: If you're going to party, don't forget to bring a balloon. But more importantly, don't forget to bring that gun.
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