Review: DEATH WISH 3 (1985) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Review: DEATH WISH 3 (1985)


Genre exploitation and excessive factor takes on a shockingly absurd level in DEATH WISH 3 -- the third series of the surprisingly profitable franchise which is as mindless as the second movie. But at least it's fast-paced enough to warrant this as a guilty-pleasure exercise.

This time, Paul Kersey returns to New York City to visit his old Korean war buddy, Charley (Francis Drake) is being attacked by a gang of street thugs in his apartment at Brooklyn. He is dead by the time Paul arrives, and the police mistakenly arresting him for the murder. The police-in-charge, Chief Richard Shriker (Ed Lauter) immediately recognizes Paul as "Mr. Vigilante" and hates him so much he shoves him into a holding cell. This is where Paul meets Manny Fraker (Gavan O'Herlihy) in the same cell. Apparently he's the leader of the gang who was responsible for Charley's death. Upon release, Manny threatens to kill Paul one day when he has a chance. In the meantime, Paul is given a chance to go scot-free as Shriker offers him a deal -- to kill all the street thugs he wants, as long as he informs Shriker of any gang activity so that the police can make a bust.

Upon arrival back into Brooklyn, Paul moves into Charley's apartment and gets to know Bennett Cross (Martin Balsam), a WWII veteran who is also Charley's best friend, elderly Jewish couple Mr. and Mrs. Kaprov (Leo Kharibian, Hana-Maria Pravda) and a young Hispanic couple, Rodriguez (Joseph Gonzalez) and his wife (Marina Sirtis). While Manny and his gang are routinely harassed and assaulted the neighborhood, Paul subsequently plans his way to kill them off by setting up booby traps and even purchasing a brand-new, high-calibered .475 Wildey Magnum gun.

While the sex is considerably toned down if compared with the first two installments, director Michael Winner upped the ante by depicting more excessive violence. Forget about plot and characterization either, since DEATH WISH 3 is all about genre formula that goes as exploitative as possible. Not only that, this third installment is more of an outrageous action movie which marks a complete departure in the DEATH WISH series. Here, Bronson's Paul Kersey is depicted as a one-man vigilante in the vein of Rambo-like style and his character is no longer convincing (mind you, he's 63 years old when he appeared in this movie). And if that's not insulting enough, the movie ends up with a bloody and over-the-top 20-minute finale filled with lots of shootouts and explosions (at one point, a character gets killed by a missile launcher shot in close range).

This is an extremely mindless movie with no social context, and even so, it still made enough money at the box-office. Ironically, this is also the last movie Charles Bronson and Michael Winner made together.

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