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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Bronson’

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

Friday, March 28th, 2008

For part 3 Michael Winner stripped DEATH WISH down to its crudest elements. There was nowhere further to go within. So for THE CRACKDOWN new director J. Lee Thompson (GUNS OF THE NAVARONE, the last two PLANET OF THE APES movies, THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, tons of other shit) dresses it back up again. You know this right away from the opening which contains suspense, mood, atmosphere, build, surprise, and symbolism, all forbidden by part 3’s strict DOGME style rules.

Kersey is an architect again, and has a family again – another reporter girlfriend with a teenage daughter he regards as his own daughter (we know this because he says “I regard her as if she were my own daughter.”) Oh jesus, not more gang rape, right? (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Wish 3

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Well, L.A. didn’t work out too hot for Paul Kersey. Might as well head home. So Part 3’s opening credits show Kersey taking a bus back into New York City, looking out the window to the tune of the most in-your–face, half cheesy/half cool blast of white-man’s-keyboard-rock meets jazz-fusion-’80s-cop-movie-establishing-shot-of-the-city theme this side of HARD BOILED. Jimmy Page is back in the composer’s chair and comes up with a pretty weird and experimental sound more often than he comes up with the crappy guitar noodling you usually got after LETHAL WEAPON came out. He’s still no Herbie Hancock, but he’ll do.

Director Michael Winner returns for his last at-bat in the DEATH WISH series, but you immediately gotta wonder what the hell’s up because this feels nothing like his other DEATH WISHes. I’m honestly not sure if it’s a deliberate artistic choice or a sudden case of not giving a shit, but he has completely removed whatever traces there were of subtlety, thoughtfulness, ambiguity, class or elegance, not to mention realism. It looks cheaper, plays out more clunky and seems to have been made all in a week or so with no time to prepare or to stop to take a breath. And that’s exactly why it’s the most popular of the sequels. This movie is pretty fuckin nuts. (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Wish II

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

For the first DEATH WISH sequel we trade down from Dino DiLaurentiis to Golan and Globus producing. Apparently Menahem Golan almost directed, but Bronson wouldn’t do it unless they got Michael Winner back. I bet he said “why get a loser when you can get a Winner?” Anyway we caught a lucky break there. I guess Winner must’ve broken up with Maria from SESAME STREET by this time so Herbie Hancock was out. Instead he got one of his neighbors to score, a neighbor who happened to be Jimmy Page. I was worried but there’s only guitar soloing on the beginning and end credits, the rest is standard old school score, not cheesy ’80s keyboards and rockin guitars and shit. So I’m not gonna complain.

It’s 1982 now, 8 years later, but they say it’s 4 years later. (The magic of cinema.) Paul Kersey lives in L.A. now. His adventures in Chicago (portrayed in the book Death Sentence) are ignored. He’s still an architect, h has a new girlfriend (Jill Ireland) and he’s moved his daughter to a hospital in California. She’s still so traumatized she doesn’t speak. (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Wish

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

After enjoying recent DEATH WISH ripoffs and spinoffs like DEATH SENTENCE and THE BRAVE ONE, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the source, and to see those sequels I never got around to watching. (By the source I mean the first Charles Bronson movie and not the book by Brian Garfield, which is apparently similar but clearly anti-vigilante in the end – that’s why he wrote the sequel Death Sentence, because he was so mad about the DEATH WISH movie.)

Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, New York architect, happily married father, “bleeding heart liberal,” Korean War veteran with conscientious objector status. A cool guy. Then one day a gang of hoodlums (including Jeff Goldblum in his first movie role) follow Paul’s wife and daughter home from the grocery store and rape them. Mrs. Kersey dies and the daughter is so traumatized she’s hospitalized in a near catatonic state. (read the rest of this shit…)

Red Sun

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Pretty much every day, somebody comes up to me and asks, “Vern, what in your opinion is the greatest badass ensemble cast of all time?” They expect me to go for a big cast like THE GREAT ESCAPE or THE DIRTY DOZEN. But I throw em a curve ball with the best possible answer: HELL IN THE PACIFIC. There are exactly two actors in the whole movie, and they’re Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. That cannot be topped. The technology just doesn’t exist.

Here’s a cast that comes pretty close though: Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune and Alain Delon. I mean, that’s pretty fuckin good, right? You could argue whether or not Bronson + Delon > Marvin. But there’s other people in this movie, not just those three, and that lessens the impact. The minimalism of HELL IN THE PACIFIC is part of what makes it so great. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Mechanic

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

First off, I just want to say, I thought Charles Bronson was gonna play a mechanic in this movie. I’m not sure why. Maybe because THE FUCKING MOVIE IS CALLED THE MECHANIC. I don’t know, that may or may not be the reason.

Charles Bronson plays a mob enforcer, or a hitman, or an assassin, or a killer, or a mechanic, or a dentist, or whatever you think sounds coolest. Point is, he’s a guy who makes a living murdering people in fancy ways. And he’s real good at his job, by the looks of it.

The opening scene is one of them tours of force that you gotta be impressed by. For a good ten minutes or more, there is no dialogue, no narration, no explanation. Just my man Charles the Mechanic, spying on a guy, then going into the guy’s apartment, fucking with his teabags, putting explosives in his books, etc. Setting things up. Then blowing things up. All in a day’s work when you are a mechanic who doesn’t fix cars. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mr. Majestyk

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003

I think it was my colleague in Badass Studies, Mr. Jeff McCloud, who first recommended MR. MAJESTYK to me a year or two ago. When he said that Charles Bronson played a watermelon farmer in it, I knew it was my type of movie. What better way to fulfill the criteria of the THEORY OF BADASS JUXTAPOSITION than to grow a field of watermelons? I mean I guess maybe if they were flowers it would seem more sensitive, but this business of a dude growing watermelons is definitely not the obvious choice for a Badass. Which is why it’s such a good choice.

So I was an idiot to put off watching the movie as long as I did. What really did it was I was lookin through a used book store (seriously, I read books) when I saw the book MR. MAJESTYK by none other than Elmore Leonard. I pulled it out. The dude on the front was definitely not Charlse Bronson. But I read the back, and sure enough, it was about a badass watermelon farmer. (read the rest of this shit…)