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  Death Wish V: The Face of Death Judge Jury And Executioner
Year: 1994
Director: Allan A. Goldstein
Stars: Charles Bronson, Lesley-Anne Down, Michael Parks, Chuck Shamata, Kevin Lund, Robert Joy, Saul Rubinek, Miguel Sandoval, Kenneth Welsh, Lisa Inouye, Erica Lancaster, Jefferson Mappin, Michael Dunston, Claire Rankin, Sharolyn Sparrow, Anna Starnino
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) is attending the latest fashion show held by his clothes designer girlfriend Olivia Regent (Lesley-Anne Down), little knowing that there is trouble brewing backstage. That trouble is her ex-husband, Tommy O'Shea (Michael Parks), a New York City gangster who Olivia has been trying to keep away from their daughter Chelsea (Erica Lancaster), without much success. When O'Shea protests that he owns this garment factory, and begins to use his bully boys on the staff to intimidate them, Paul thinks he should step in; after alll, he has a history of righting wrongs...

This was the final instalment in the Death Wish series, and as it turned out the last time anyone saw its star Bronson on the silver screen, as, other than a series of television movies this was his farewell. His fans were sorry to see him go, but the truth was the idea of a seventy-two-year-old action hero required Kirk Douglas-sized denial of his advancing years on Bronson's part and a massive suspension of disbelief on the audience's part. He could still handle a gun, but you'll notice he doesn't run anymore, mostly sauntering around the locations. He was still the mean Chuck that we all knew, it's just that he looked as if he might be more comfortable relaxing in front of the TV with his feet up.

Nevertheless, he does come up with some novel murders, as if more than ever he was playing a slasher movie villain whose actions are perfectly justified in the script's mind. That script was written by director Allan A. Goldstein, here taking orders from producer Menahem Golan, so in its way Death Wish V was a late period Cannon movie. Or it would have been if Cannon had not been dissolved at the end of the eighties, but you can see the hand of the would-be mogul at work here, as it looks very much like the type of product he was churning out the decade before, only with a more nineties sheen.

What's the plot, I hear you ask, what excuse does Kersey have for bringing down the bad guys this time around? Well, to strongarm Olivia into complying with them (notice her surname is Regent, because with that posh English accent she had to have some royal blood in her, right?), the bad guys send a hitman after her. He is Freddie Flakes (Robert Joy), so called due to his dandruff problem - not the most compelling villainous character trait, but there you go - and he mashes poor Olivia's face into a bathroom mirror, sending her to hospital. Kersey, who has links to the law who apparently have no qualms about secretly endorsing his violence, is not going to take this lying down.

Although a nice sit down might suit him better. If anyone has a death wish, it's those who get to know Kersey, as soon Olivia has been bumped off by O'Shea's men to prevent her testifying against him and bringing down his criminal empire. This is all the excuse the vigilante needs to take his gun out of the safe and start shooting up the place, though he prefers to find other means of disposal this time: you just know that acid bath in the factory is going to come in handy at some point. There is a notable lack of budget on this climactic film, so no car chases and only a couple of big explosions, not to mention a lack of heavies for Chuckles to dispose of. When he does, he opts for the old remote control football trick (the what?) over the more conventional methods seen in the first film, showing that over time this series had become a succession of cartoonish death wish fulfilment tales for those who liked to believe that criminals were riding roughshod over law abiding citizens' rights. Still, it was good to see Bronson one last time. Music by Terry Plumeri.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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