Death Wish 3

Director - Michael Winner

Cast - Charles Bronson, Kirk Taylor, Alex Winter

Country of Origin - USA

Discs - 1

MSRP - $16.99

Distributor - MGM/20th Century Fox

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

The Film (3.5/5)

     Death Wish 3 could very well be considered the finest entry in the series since the first essentially created the modern vigilante film back in 1974, and took Charles Bronson from amazing character actor to household name. The film follows the same trajectory as the other entries so far in the Death Wish series, notably someone close to Bronson's Paul Kersey character dies at the hands of thugs, and he seeks vengeance outside of the law.  However, the difference between Death Wish 3 and the preceding entries include the fact that without a family to seek revenge for (they were killed off in the prior 2 installments), he is left fighting the good fight for an old friend.  The big change is that Death Wish 3 like most sequels ups the violence quotient to such a level that whatever realism was injected into the prior entries is gone, and what we have is an absolute gonzo action film.

   The film stars Charles Bronson again as vigilante Paul Kersey. The film starts with Paul's not so triumphant return to New York City after a decade kicking vigilante ass from coast to coast. Paul appears to be staying at a friend Charley's apartment while he is in NYC, unfortunately, just before Paul's arrival Charley is executed by a trio of thugs (including Bill & Ted's Alex Winter). In a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the cops arrive, and arrest Paul for Charley's murder, and he is promptly thrown in jail with some rough hoods including neighborhood gang leader (and possessor of the worst hair style in cinematic history) Fraker. Fraker immediately begins to try and show his domination over Kersey, of course, Paul will have none of this, and fights him back in the prison.

   It's not long before one of the superior police officers Chief Shriker pulls Paul aside, and points out that he is the vigilante who was stalking New York 10 years ago. Rather then arrest Kersey on gun possession charges, and stick him into jail, he basically puts on the payroll.  He agrees to let Paul do what he's best at, and he'll turn a blind eye to it, as long as Paul reports back to him. Of course, Kersey takes on the challenge, and begins to clean up the street with the assistance of the neighbors in his apartment complex.  He befriends them, and helps them to rig improvised security devices at their windows to prevent home invasions, and stalks the streets taking out members of Frakers gang.

   It is noted that due to Kersey's actions crime is going down in the neighborhood, but not soon enough. One of the neighbors that he is attempting to protect is brutally raped and murdered by Fraker and his gang after leaving the local grocery store. This brings Kersey into full on action, as he organizes the neighbors in his apartment complex together to fight back against the gang in what can only be described as the most action packed climax in 80's vigilante cinema.

     Some people will tell you if you watch one Death Wish movie after the first one make it the third. I will tell you that if you just watch one Death Wish movie PERIOD, make it the third. Death Wish 3 may be the comic book version of a vigilante movie, but it is much more fun than the other series entries, and the climax is one of the best in 80's action cinema bar none.  By this point in time Charles Bronson had become accustomed to playing this type of character, and is pretty deep into Kersey's skin. That being said he doesn't have to do much, it's a simple, but effective performance from the actor.

   The first Death Wish was definitely a product of 70's filmmaking.  It felt like a film that belonged to the same period as say a Taxi Driver. Death Wish 3 is definitely an 80's film.  It feels over the top in a way that 80's action cinema tends to feel, and the gang members on display look like they belong in a Bronx Warriors of Mad Max sequel rather than a vigilante film, but that is really part of the appear.

   With Death Wish 3 it feels like director Michael Winner and Charles Bronson decided to turn everything up to 11, and just let go of any sort of grasp on reality. This loose approach to narrative, has created what is probably the finest high octane vigilante action picture of the 80's, and the most memorable entry in the Death Wish saga.

 

Audio/Video (3.5/5)

     MGM have presented Michael Winner's Death Wish 3 in a truly fitting 1080p AVC encoded 1:85:1 transfer preserving the films original theatrical aspect ratio.  The Death Wish films were always low budget affairs, and that look accurately translates to this presentation.  The level of detail has increased significantly over the DVD release, black levels are nice and deep, and flesh tone are spot on. There is a nice healthy level of grain throughout the film. There is some minor production related softness that occurs throughout the film.

     MGM have presented Death Wish 3 with an equally fitting DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track in English . The track is completely solid, as dialogue is  clear and crisp throughout the presentation, as our the mixing of both music and effects.  Some people might complain about the lack of a 5.1 mix, but being an audio purist this fits the film just fine. There is also a French mono track, and English and Spanish Subtitles.

 

Extras (1/5)

   MGM have supplied the films theatrical trailer as the disc sole extra.

 

Overall

   Death Wish 3 is quite possibly the most gonzo vigilante film of the 80's, and a total blast to watch.  The last half an hour alone is worth the price of admission. The A/V restoration on this disc is fantastic, although some extras would have been nice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.