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Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987) September 12, 2004

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 1998

In the first DEATH WISH movie, mild-mannered New York architect Paul Kersey, played by Charles Bronson, was avenging the death of his wife. In the second, he was avenging his daughter. In the third, he instigated small war in order to avenge the old friend. Fourth movie, on the other hand, begins with Kersey doubting the point of his violent crusades and living the quiet life with his girlfriend Karen, played by Kay Lenz. However, since this is DEATH WISH MOVIE, we know that sooner or later something bad is going to happen to the people Kersey cares for. This time Karen’s teenage daughter dies of a crack overdose and Kersey is forced to return to his old vigilante ways. Kersey’s new targets, unlike the previous movies, aren’t the ordinary street punks but rich, heavily armed and well-connected drug dealers. Even such unstoppable killing machine like Kersey needs some support, and it comes from the publisher Nathan White (John P. Ryan), determined to avenge the drug-related death of his own daughter. White’s plan is to make Kersey kill major players in two rival drug dealing organisations and thus instigate the war between them. The plan begins to take shape, but Kersey’s actions bring attention of two police detectives – Reiner (George Dickerson) and Nozaki (Soon Teck-Oh).

Fourth (and, unfortunately, not the final) installment in the DEATH WISH series, will probably remembered as the typical movie of Cannon Group, production company responsible for some of the worst cinematic trash of the last decade. However, although some critics might argue, DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN represents slight improvement over the DEATH WISH 3. Paul Kersey, one of the most intriguing (and potentially controversial) characters of the 1970s, is still being dumbed down by mediocre script, and Charles Bronson really doesn’t feel the need to put much effort in his acting. However, the hand of a veteran director J. Lee Thompson seems more capable of Michael Winner’s and the action scenes seem slightly less surreal, although they still look cheap and repetitive and downright boring. There are some attempts for the movie to have a plot between the numerous scenes of violence, and one of such attempts is a potentially interesting plot twist at the end. The script even tries to fake some social conscience (through criminally underused Kay Lenz’s character) and predates the War on Drugs campaign that would inspire many Hollywood products in next few years. There are even some half-hearted attempts of humour – both intentional and unintentional, like in a scene where Kersey assassinates mob figures by a wine bottle – but the quality of this movie is still far away from Bronson’s 1970s classics.

(Special note to x-philes: Mith Pilleggi, the actor who plays AD Skinner in THE X- FILES, could be seen in a small role of cannery lab foreman).

RATING: 4/10 (+)

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