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Death Wish 3

AKA:
 
 


Although I've already mentioned it, Bronson was 64 while this was filmed. He thought the film was terrible and didn't like it at all. In his review, Roger Ebert said that Bronson probably had the least lines in history for any main actor in a film.



More Trivia from Death Wish 3
Death Wish 3 is the second sequel to the influential 1974 hit about a man whose family is destroyed by crime. The man, Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) is frustrated at the inability to find the criminals responsible for the death of his wife and the attack on his daughter and decides to fight back as a vigilante. He lures criminals to him and kills them and in the process becomes a hero to the public. He is caught (after making a substantial difference to crime levels!) and told to leave New York or face prosecution for his crimes.

The second film (Death Wish 2, obviously) dealt with Kersey in LA, where his daughter is a victim to crime again and dies, along with his innocent housekeeper. This time, Kersey targets the specific gang responsible for the attacks on his daughter and housekeeper, kills them, and then has to leave LA!

Death Wish 3 – my personal favourite of the bunch – sees him return to New York eleven years after the original film was released (and presumably, the original events took place).

Before I proceed, let me make something clear. Death Wish 3, by normal standards, isn’t a great film. In fact, it is so bad it mutates into a greatly enjoyable one. I have seen it on many occasions, and will continue to do so because it gives me a lot of pleasure.

The original film featured a disturbingly realistic portrayal of a man undergoing a breakdown and attacking muggers to vent his frustration at an ineffectual police force. The second film saw him becoming almost superhuman in his abilities to find the culprits responsible for the violation of his home and family at the beginning of the film. The third film in the series abandons all sense of realism and moves into a cinematic equivalent of a video game and a comic book combined, which is where the enjoyment in watching it comes.

Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) begins the film on a bus, travelling into New York (well, London. The film was filmed in London, not New York. This is pretty easy to spot as there are many things in the film that are specific to London and not New York that somehow found it onto the screen).

When he gets into ‘New York’ he tries to call his old war friend Charlie (although Kersey was a Conscientious Objector in the war and never served as a soldier). Unfortunately, Charlie is being beaten by thugs in his apartment as he refuses to give the local gang money. One of the thugs is Hermosa, a Hispanic gang member played by the non-Hispanic looking Alex Winter, of Bill & Ted fame.

Kersey makes his way to Charlie’s neighbourhood (which resembles a ruined battle zone complete with rubble and nasty gang members, despite the frequent taxis driving about and old people and children merrily wandering around in the background) where he finds Charlie, who dies just after Kersey’s arrival. The police arrive, having been called by the neighbours who heard Charlie’s beating, and blame Kersey (who is standing there with his gun in his hand). He is arrested and taken to the Police Station.

At the police station, he is tortured by the police, then put in a holding cell with various criminals and gang members by Chief Shriker (Ed Lauter), who recognises Kersey from eleven years before when he was previously in New York. In the holding cell, Kersey encounters Mandy Fraker (Gavan O’Herlihy), a gang leader who decides to get Kersey ‘done over’.

After Kersey receives a brief beating, Fraker reveals that he will ‘kill an old lady’ just for Kersey, and that he should ‘ catch it on the six o’clock news’. He’s a pretty nasty baddie, all right. He also tells Kersey where he can find him if he wants to wander on over to his ‘turf’. Then he is released.

Kersey is approached by Chief Shriker, who has a proposition for him – he can be a vigilante again in one specific area of New York due to the overbearing crime and nastiness there. Yep, you guessed it; it’s where Charlie was killed. And also where Fraker is gang leader.

Kersey agrees and is released. He goes back to Charlie and Fraker’s ‘hood’, and Bennet (Martin Balsam) meets him. He was Charlie’s best friend, and has the keys to his apartment, which he gives to Kersey as ‘the rent’s paid till the end of the month’.

That’s the basic scenario, and sets the tone for the rest of the film – but it gets better. Over the next 70 minutes, we are introduced to the Kasparovs (an old stereotypical Jewish couple who eat boiled cabbage); Mr & Mrs Rodriguez (Joseph Gonzalez and Marina Sirtis of Star Trek fame) whose only purpose is to shoot people with a ‘zip gun’ (Mr. Rodriguez) and to be assaulted and then die (Mrs Rodriguez); The Giggler (Kirk Taylor) who snatches purses and, well, giggles while he does it; and of course Kathryn Davis (Deborah Raffin), who is the city Public Defender. She gets romantically involved with Kersey - guess what happens to her?

Along the way, we witness attacks with rocket launchers, machine guns (not SUB machine guns, but actual machine guns), toilet plungers, brooms, planks with knives in them, slabs of wood with nails in them, little pipes that can fire shells with alarming accuracy (zip guns), and a Wildey pistol (that takes a ‘shorter version of the African game cartridge’ as ammo).

...There’s also a neat but sadly impossible trick with some front teeth!

Verdict?

If I seem to be slating this film, believe me I’m not, it has a dear place in my heart from when I was a youngster watching 18-rated films on the sly.

It has so many things ‘wrong’ with it that it transforms into something classic; there is a great deal of entertainment to be had from watching a 64-year old Bronson running about and shooting bad guys like some demented video game character.

Michael Winner’s direction is gloriously flawed, but adds that certain hysterically overblown touch that means this film can be watched again and again. Gavan O’Herlihy makes the most of a role that involves having a reverse mohican as a haircut (where the hair is shaved bald down the middle of his head and left long everywhere else) and having the bald strip coloured in with what looks like lipstick.

Martin Balsam seems to do well until he loads the bullets into the old machine gun backwards, which is presumably why it doesn’t work when he tries to shoot the ‘punks’.

Children and old people dance triumphantly around dead and dying bodies after they have been shot. This all sounds terrible, and yes it is – but believe me, it is one of the funniest films that you will ever see.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Very, very funny. This film has a cult following due to the overblown nature of everything that happens in it. It's got a great 80s score from Jimmy Page (yes, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page) and should not be missed.

Weaknesses? If you look at it from a serious point of view then it's awful, but go in expecting it to be bad and you'll be pleasantly surprised. It couldn't be funnier if it had been planned. Oops! That's a good thing, right?

Our rating: 9.5 out of 10


Review Written by Jimmy Green:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Jimmy Green
Death Wish 3