HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Adrift
Never a Dull Moment
McQueen
Ugly Duckling, The
Apostle
Distant Voices, Still Lives
Hereditary
Cup Fever
Peril for the Guy
3 Days in Quiberon
Club, The
Best F(r)iends: Volume 1
Pili
Suspect, The
Baxter!
Dead Night
Thoroughbreds
Ghost and the Darkness, The
Strike Commando
Molly
Full Alert
Up the Academy
Darling Lili
Tehran Taboo
Follow That Bird
I, Olga Hepnarová
Finders Keepers
Breadwinner, The
All About Steve
Bad Samaritan
   
 
Newest Articles
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
When is a Jackie Chan Movie Not a Jackie Chan Movie? Armour of God and City Hunter
Anytime Anywhere: The Complete Goodies at the BBC Episode Guide Part 2
Anytime Anywhere: The Complete Goodies at the BBC Episode Guide Part 1
I-Spy Scotland: The Thirty Nine Steps and Eye of the Needle
Manor On Movies--Black Shampoo--three three three films in one
Manor On Movies--Invasion USA
Time Trap: Last Year in Marienbad and La Jetée
Gaining Three Stone: Salvador, Natural Born Killers and Savages
Right Said Bernard: Cribbins on DVD
1969: The Year Westerns Couldn't Get Past
A Network Horror Double Bill: Assault and Death Line on Blu-ray
The Edie Levy: Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol and Ciao! Manhattan
   
 
  Death Wish Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?Buy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Michael Winner
Stars: Charles Bronson, Vincent Gardenia, Hope Lange, Stuart Margolin, William Redfield, Christopher Guest, Jeff Goldblum
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 3 votes)
Review: Paul Kersey, a mild-mannered architect (Charles Bronson), and his wife (Hope Lange) have been vacationing in sunny climes, but when they return to their home in New York City they find the weather is cold and the reception from the locals is chillier. Kersey laughs off the news that crime is spiralling out of control, seeing it as a result of poverty and something to be concerned with on a political level, but when it strikes close to home he is forced to take the law into his own hands and become a vigilante.

Scripted by Wendell Mayes from Brian Garfield's novel, Death Wish features Bronson's most famous role, if maybe not his best. Shortly after the film opens, Kersey's wife is murdered and his daughter is raped by thugs (including a young Jeff Goldblum - and you thought he was a nice guy) who break into their apartment. This scene is appropriately nightmarish, but after it occurs the film's tone becomes ambiguous, with Kersey being driven to his vigilante role almost reluctantly.

However, at the halfway point of the story all doubts fly out of the window and the film becomes a straightforward shoot-em-up, with Kersey being confronted by muggers every time he leaves the house. As if to prove that inside every bleeding-heart liberal (as he is labelled at the beginning) there is a, well, Charles Bronson struggling to get out our hero starts to feel he is on a justified crusade to clean the scum off the streets. Finally he is championed as a hero in the eyes of the public - a lot like the character was in real life - and allusions are made to him being the modern day equivalent of a gunslinger cleaning up this town for the decent folks.

He always assumes the muggers want to kill him for his wallet, as well - it seems that the only way to beat the criminals is to descend to their level, and being played by Bronson, it's no surprise when he does. There is a sop to those who would decry taking the law into your own hands in the character of Vincent Gardenia's detective character, yet he is set up as a straw man with arguments to match and we feel he has a grudging respect for Kersey before the finale - crime rates do go down after Kersey makes his mark on the city's conscience.

More interestingly, he never actually confronts the thugs that we saw at the start of the film, which only increases the paranoia, of course. Death Wish was released at a time when the New York City crime rate was indeed going through the roof, so it's little wonder it strick such a chord. As it is, it's an effective but problematic thriller where the excuses made for the hero's actions are more emphatically presented than the opposing view. Certainly it underlined director Michael Winner's reputation for unapologetically pushing the boundaries of violence in mainstream cinema, not that it was much of a reputation after some increasingly hamfisted efforts. Listen for: music by Quincy Jones. Followed by four increasingly unbelievable sequels, all starring Bronson, with only the first two sequels seeing Winner return.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 9415 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Michael Winner  (1935 - 2013)

Opinionated British producer-director whose early comedies - You Must Be Joking, The Jokers, I'll Never Forget Whatsisname - were promising enough, but come the seventies he had settled into a pattern of overblown thrillers.

Of these, Death Wish was a huge hit, and Winner directed two similar sequels. Other films included horrors (The Nightcomers, The Sentinel), Westerns (Lawman, Chato's Land), thrillers (Scorpio, Dirty Weekend) and disastrous comedies (Bullseye!). Also a restaurant critic.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Steven Seagal
Pam Grier
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Shrimpton
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
  Patrick Keenan
Enoch Sneed
Ian Phillips
  Afra Khan
   

 

Last Updated: