The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987)
It has finally happened, I am now getting around to the last of the VHSs Mr. Kenner at Movies in the Attic sent me over a year ago. I know, it has taken forever, but it's what happens when I get submissions, especially multiple movie submissions, some are looked at right away, and some are lost in the shuffle. But we're here, it's better late than never, and I appreciate him sending me these, because they've all been a lot of fun. Also, for Kenner's take on all the Death Wish films, click here.
Death Wish 4 seems like a more natural sequel to part two, as if three didn't happen or was a different time line-- like the Highlander movies and the TV series. Anyway, life looks good, Bronson has a hot younger girlfriend, the architecture biz is going nicely, and he hasn't had to use his guns in awhile. Things change though when his girlfriend's teen daughter is killed by a coke overdose, and with the possibility of a mother/daughter threesome out the window, Bronson wants revenge, so he kills the dealer that sold her the junk. That's when a mysterious millionaire comes to him with a proposition: unlimited resources to take out the two main drug operations in LA. Bronson jumps at it, and starts an epic gang war that has the city's law enforcement scrambling to find that damn Vigilante again.
I really dug this one. It was a Yojimbo paradigm, with Charles Bronson in full bass mode. How can you not love him with unlimited havoc-wreaking resources? This, along with part three, are the full realization of the Cannon/Golan-Globus Death Wish combination, just a lot of kicking ass and taking names. It may be a little over the top (Stallone style), it may be a little cartoonish, but if that's an issue for you, then what are you doing watching Cannon's Death Wish 4?
Bronson was getting up there in years as this one was made, and though watching him mix it up with David Wolos-Fonteno was a bit of a stretch, overall Bronson really worked as the lone, aging Ronin for hire. It's actually a common theme in Japanese samurai pictures, the aging samurai whose skill and wisdom that comes with age is an asset over the lost step and athleticism from his youth. For Golan-Globus, of course, it's not just wisdom and skill, but stunt doubles that overcome the lost youth too. Either way, at 65-66, Bronson still had the screen presence to carry this thing off and carry it off to the point that I was thoroughly entertained.
I want to go back to that scene with David Wolos-Fonteno for a second, because it was pretty fantastic on a lot of levels. It starts with Fonteno getting ready to go to the opera with his girlfriend, and he's constantly berating her. Normally I don't go in for that kind of thing, but his cracks were so funny, and I don't know this for a fact, but I think they were ad libbed. He was telling her she needed to lose weight to fit into her dress, that the dress made her look like a damned rooster, and she was giving it right back to him, which was even better. Then he goes back upstairs and finds Bronson there, and he's beating the crap out of him, before Bronson knocks his head into a TV set, then matadors him out the window. Whenever I see Wolos-Fonteno on Law and Order as a judge, I think of him here, telling his girlfriend she looks like a rooster, and hunting Bronson in his apartment.
As far as Star Trek goes, the one I followed the most was The Next Generation, but that doesn't mean I didn't know Voyager existed, didn't recognize the guy who played Tuvok appearing in Death Wish 4 as a drug dealer. We also had Kay Lenz as Bronson's girlfriend, and Dana Barron as her daughter-- you may remember Barron as the girl who David Silver cheated on Donna with on 90210. DTVC favorite Danny Trejo makes an appearance as a hatchetman for one of the gangsters, rocking some great hair, before he's blown up. Then we have the great Soon-Tek Oh as the detective following Kearsey. Finally, my favorite was the late John P. Ryan as the mysterious rich man. He was great as the mob boss in Bound.
I want to take a second here to bring to your attention the cover photo. Usually with cover photos I hotlink them from illegal download sites, mostly because what they're doing is bad (at least in the case of films still in print), so they won't be upset if I grab their cover photo and not give them credit-- though I'm sure they've hotlinked them from other places too. But tonight, for the first time in DTVC history, I've actually scanned the VHS cover myself. That's right, that's the exact one Kenner sent me. A DTVC first, but hopefully not the last-- and feel free to hotlink it, it'll make me proud.
In the context of the Death Wish series, this is more like the part 3, and part 3 is more like an interlude or one of those franchise Star Wars novels that take place outside of the major storylines. Regardless, if we're going to separate out the first one from the sequels and judge the sequels on their own, I put this right up behind three and right ahead of two (and you'll have to wait for part five). Thanks again to Kenner for sending us the VHS.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092857/