Review: DEATH WISH 5: THE FACE OF DEATH (1994) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 31 January 2012


RATING: 0.5/5

In this final DEATH WISH series and also Charles Bronson's last theatrical appearance, it's a slight of relief that DEATH WISH 5: THE FACE OF DEATH is considerably restrained in term of sex and over-the-top violence that characterized the previous sequels. But it's hardly any good either, as this fifth installment transcends from mindless action genre to a contemporary splatter flick and worst of all, it's so butt-numbingly pathetic.

Paul Kersey (Bronson) returns to New York City, where he is now resumed to normal life who is about to marry his girlfriend Olivia (Lesley-Anne Down), a fashion designer. But Olivia has a bad past -- she has an ex-husband Tommy O'Shea (Michael Thomas Parks), a notorious gangster wants to gain custody over their daughter Chelsea (Erica Lancaster). Tommy isn't particularly pleased with Olivia going out with Paul, and vows to make her life a living hell. Nevertheless Olivia ends up being badly disfigured by Tommy's violent henchman, Freddie Flakes (Robert Joy) who is a master of disguise donning a woman's clothes. Paul feels devastated about the incident, and hopes that the law will catches up on Tommy and his men ever since he decides to lay down his old way of personal vigilante. However not even his trusted D.A. Hoyle (Saul Rubinek) and his associate Hector Vasquez (Miguel Sandoval) can do anything to stop Tommy. Things start to get out of hand when Olivia finally ends up dead, and Paul is forced to take justice into his own hands.

As mentioned earlier, DEATH WISH 5: THE FACE OF DEATH is a radical departure from the previous series. The whole movie is akin to those splatter flick in the vein of FRIDAY THE 13TH or HALLOWEEN series. Need proof? How about dispatching the victims by getting wrapped plastic cocoon machine, hangs on a mobile clothing transport hooks, contaminate the cannoli with cyanide, a soccer ball rigged with bomb (yes, you read that right) and also gets shoved into an acid bath? It's really odd to see then 72-year-old Charles Bronson agrees to commit such ridiculously absurd role. Not only that, he appears to be so weary and frail which isn't surprising to see his Paul Kersey role more like a wooden mannequin.

Stephen Peters's screenplay is awfully routine, while the pace drags a lot with uninteresting characters and banal dialogues. While Allan A. Goldstein does display some sense of style in direction, particularly during the action sequences, the overall movie feels like a tired slog.

No doubt this is the worst DEATH WISH series ever made, and I'm glad it's finally over. In case you like to know, producer Menahem Golan (who was originally planned to direct this movie) was planning to make DEATH WISH 6: THE NEW VIGILANTE without Charles Bronson. However, due to their subsequent fallout, the movie was never made.

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