Monday, July 27, 2009

Film Review: DEATH WISH 3 (1985, Michael Winner)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 92 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Charles Bronson, Martin Balsam (PSYCHO, TWO EVIL EYES), Alex Winter (BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE), Kirk Taylor (THE LAST DRAGON, FULL METAL JACKET), Gaven O'Herlihy (WILLOW, SUPERMAN III), Ed Lauter (TRUE ROMANCE, FAMILY PLOT), Deborah Raffin (GOD TOLD ME TO, SCANNERS II), music by Jimmy Page.
Tag-lines: "He's back in New York bringing justice to the streets..."
Best one-liner: "WE know that you did it! YOU know that WE know that you did it! WE know that you know that we know that you did it!"

ER doc: "Mrs. Rodriguez has expired." A concerned, brow-furrowing Bronson: "But you told me over the phone she only had a broken arm?" DEATH WISH 3 is golden 80's trash, bedazzled with that sparkling magic wand known as Golan-Globus.

The problem: out in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, (filmed on location!) a poor man's Klaus Kinski and a bunch of face-painted background dancers from BREAKIN' have declared war on the elderly.

Their heinous acts are accompanied by Jimmy Page's rootin' tootin' burlesque synths, slap-happy bass (imagine SEINFELD times one thousand), and a general easy listening jazzy funkitude that words can't quite describe.

The solution: send in Bronson, make 'im mad, and turn 'im loose.

Now here's 15 reasons why DEATH WISH 3 may be the greatest movie Cannon ever made:

1. A bored Bill S. Preston, Esq. being told to "Stay awake while we're killin' this guy."

Each DEATH WISH film has an unlikely, famous- or pseudo-famous- henchman. In 1, it's Jeff Goldblum. In 2, it's Laurence Fishburne. In 3, it's Alex Winter. Hell, ST. IVES has even got Goldblum AND Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund.

2. “Chicken’s good. I like chicken.” Yeah, Bronson’s easy to please. As long as you've got chicken.

3. The Hispanic family has a giant sombrero hanging on their wall.

Similarly, the Jewish family has an enormous Menorah. Golan-Globus films take place in a kind of post-racial universe where sterotypes abound, but complete racial harmony can proceed as soon as the [land developers, evil gangs, rich kid's dance team] is defeated. See also: RAPPIN', LAMBADA, etc.

4. The jarring, semi-frequent roach squishing. The pacing in a Cannon film seems completely designed to illicit spit-takes. The whackiest moments come out of nowhere- just as you're taking that sip of Coke II...

5. The little zoom in on the portrait of the Rough Riders as the music noodles out a little martial flair (for no reason). See #4's note on spit-takes, and previous notations on Jimmy Page.

6. Bronson's disquieting smile and his ill-considered, matter-of-fact one-liner delivery: "It's MY CAR!"

"It's MY CAR!"

7. Four words: Mail, Order, Rocket, Launcher.

Not to mention the legal improbabilities of Bronson setting up a P.O. Box and immediately having truckloads of illegal weaponry shipped to him.

8. Bronson's continued love for ice cream (see DEATH WISH 2).

9. The purse-snatching 'Giggler.' "He laughs as he runs."

And that he does.

10. "Believe it or not, this used to be a great neighborhood." Ummm…WHAT?

11. Bronson shooting an unarmed man in the back, prompting the ghetto to erupt in a chorus of 'Right-ons' set to ROCKY-esque MIDI music.

12. When Bronson punches a dude out and he goes into an artful jazz-dance fall.

13. The fact that, without exaggeration, nearly EVERY single car seen in this movie ends up EXPLODING.

Car explosions would probably make a good starting point for a drinking game if you're so inclined.

14. The Commodore 64 adaptation with the tag-line: "You ARE Bronson."

15. And because the Italian marketing was so memorable.

I could easily come up with fifteen more. Probably even a thousand more. And maybe I will, someday. In the meantime, Charlie, here’s five mind-blowing, chicken-flavored stars. You earned ‘em. Eat up. Maybe we'll get some ice cream in here for dessert.

-Sean Gill


Anonymous said...

This film needs to be seen by more people. It should be enshrined as a Holy Relic and worshiped by people everywhere.

Sean Gill said...


I'm in total agreement with ya. And nice review, too!