The streets are filled with death and destruction. Ruthless drug traffickers prey upon the poor, the lonely, the helpless. LA is a city desperate for deliverance… until now! Charles Bronson returns as Paul Kersey, the original urban vigilante and one-man demolition force in this pulse-pounding, take-no-prisoners thriller! Two rival drug gangs have a death-grip on LA’s battle-torn inner city. But their brutal reign of terror is about to come to a violent end. One man is out to avenge the cocaine-induced death of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter. His name is Paul Kersey – and he’s armed, dangerous… and mad as hell!
1987 – Certificate: R – American Film
6.0 out of 10
The unseasonal run of warm days we’ve been having recently has put an unprecedented strain on reserves of cold drinks in Cactus World. In fact I’ve run out of normal soft drinks and the things I only drink in an emergency, like bitter lemon and ginger ale, have been in the fridge so long they’ve all frozen solid. I tried opening one this afternoon, but so much pressure had built up in the bottle that the contents started to explode everywhere; in fact I read this evening that earlier today America had briefly gone to DEFCON 1, as some military satellite had mistaken my attempts to get something cold to drink as a ballistic missile launch. I think it’s all okay now though. Fortunately, I also found some old bottles of Bacardi Breezer (Pineapple) in the back of the fridge that the alcohol had stopped from freezing. It tasted okay(ish), considering it was two years past its Best Before date. I also have to report the good news that the far worse scenario of there being a shortage of cold, alcoholic drinks, is not presently a concern.
Before we had mega-budget screen superheroes and nutters like Martin Riggs cleaning up urban scum, we had Paul Kersey. The original street-level vigilante, here’s a chap who reluctantly goes off on his own and sorts out bad guys. In many ways he’s a lot like Batman, a tortured soul who’s lost the ones he cares for most; except he’s not especially fit and strong, isn’t a billionaire and doesn’t have a flash car, cave, computer, utility belt or butler. Then again, he does use guns and he hasn’t got an annoying sidekick either. Last time we saw him, he was busy helping disadvantaged communities in New York become more resilient. This time he’s back in America’s other city, Los Angeles, sorting out corrupt police and drug barons; you know, the usual stuff architects deal with. Scarcely have I recovered from seeing Lieutenant Commander Chakotay turn up in “Night of the Comet” when along comes Lieutenant Commander Tuvok in “Death Wish 4”. Clearly working under cover for Starfleet in some sort of time-travel paradox, he inadvertently gives some drugs to some dumb bimbo, who promptly kills herself with them. She just happens to be the daughter of Charles Bronson’s latest love interest too. In another interesting parallel with “Star Trek” I would say it was at least as deadly being a friend of Paul Kersey, as it is wearing a red shirt as a member of a landing party. There’ve been five Death Wish films and nearly all of his ‘nearest and dearest’ have ended up being raped and/or murdered. You do see Bronson take out Tuvok’s car with a grenade in an underground garage, but I’m pretty sure I saw him being beamed out just before it exploded. Tuvok could’ve easily stunned them all with his phaser, but he probably didn’t want to contaminate the time-line or such like. I watched the hardcore, uncut version, not the old, UK cut one with its missing 54 seconds. Because of that I’d have probably turned into a serial killer by now, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was also a pan and scan version too, so half of it was missing. I hate it when they do that. It was mono as well.
There’s not a great deal of music in this movie and what there is has a tendency to sound like a reject from The Terminator. The theme music is horrible though; some nasty saxophone-heavy garbage that sounds like it escaped from an obscure, 70s porn VHS.
Recommend for architects, vigilantes, would-be superheroes and anyone who might make friends with Paul Kersey. And a warning to the latter; DON’T DO IT!
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. However, someone does sort of explode into nothing after having a grenade fired into him. And you thought The Terminator came up with that one first?
Top badass moment? Dumb question. Charles Bronson IS badass. And when someone asks, “who the fuck are you?” and you simply reply (after a tension building pause), “death”, that’s badass too. And keeping a M203 grenade launcher attached to a M16 assault rifle in a cupboard behind your fridge is badass too.
Ever watched any of those TV ads, which always seem to feature a young and good-looking guy in a white shirt and tie, sitting on a train with loads of space around him? The ones where it’s sunny outside and the train is passing through some beautiful countryside, which the guy in the shirt glances at contentedly whilst he works away on a laptop, looking happy and in control, as he drinks his complementary and delicious cup of coffee and deals with his important but achievable workload? Well that’s total bollocks. I’ve spend a lot of time recently sitting on trains trying to work on a laptop and its had about as much in common with that image, as someone sweeping the floor in an aircraft hangar has with Tom Cruise in “Topgun”. So here’s a reality check.
1) The trains are always over-crowded and no one looks happy.
2) You always have to chuck someone out of the seat you’ve booked, who’s always the person most genuinely in need of a seat on the whole train; typically a heavily pregnant but exceedingly fray old lady, who’s often from a Black or Asian community too, so that everyone else on the train can brand you both a bastard and a racist.
3) You can never plug your laptop in anywhere; there either isn’t a plug, or someone else is using it and will defend it to the death if need be. You’d have more chance of negotiating a peace treaty between North and South Korea.
4) The tables are too narrow to have the screen at the right angle or the keyboard in the right place; and there’s always some other poor sod sitting on the other side of the table trying to use a laptop too; and the nightmarish possibly that the backs of the lids might accidentally touch one another, would feel not unlike experiencing your best mate suddenly touching you ‘inappropriately’ and declaring he’s always loved you.
5) You’re always stressed out because you’ve got too much work to do. Internet access costs nearly £5 for an hour and at best is annoyingly intermittent and slow, so you end up having to close and reopen Outlook loads of times in an effort to send or receive any e-mail. And don’t even think you can use a mouse, as the train’s movement will result in your clicking on everything but what you wanted and a screen full of usless boxes and windows that you’ve then got to try to close, an equally futile exercise that just perpetuates the nightmare. And if you saved the link your mate sent you last week for that comedy bestiality gay porn website, you can be sure you’ll accidently click on it and everyone in the carriage with hear your tinny laptop speakers blare out the fact, confirming in their minds that you’re a social deviant as well as being a bastard and a racist, and probably a paedophile too. Your only defence against all this is that the chance of you actually finding a suitable space in which to move a mouse around, is rather less than that of the Earth suddenly exploding right now… nope, we’re still here. (And here’s a friendly bit of advice; don’t bother trying to use your mouse on your thigh, it doesn’t work and after it’s fallen on the floor with a loud clatter a few times, everyone will be adding stupidity to your growing lists of crimes.)
6) The person sitting opposite you always has a better laptop that makes you feel like a Luddite and failure, as you look at your scratched Dell with its broken bit of trim in the corner; whilst his is miraculously in pristine condition, despite its apparently nomadic existence; they’re nearly always Macs too; does Apple pay people to travel on trains just to make it look like it has a bigger market share than it really does?
7) The weather is always wet and horrible; or really bright and the sun shines directly onto the screen of your laptop, rendering it unreadable.
8) The person next to you acts as if he’s Beelzebub’s cousin and insists on staking his claim to every square nanometre of his allotted space; even using his bag and jacket to build something akin to the Berlin Wall between you and him. The unspoken threat this leaves hanging in the air will lead you to prefer the option of wetting yourself, rather than ask him to move so you can go to the toilet.
9) If the person next to you is a woman, she will continually use body language that strongly suggests the world’s most evil-smelling pervert has just sat next to her. Unlike Beelzebub’s cousin, she will attempt to curl up in as small a space as possible, mathematically as far from you as she can, whilst texting her mates non-stop to tell them of her ongoing trauma.
10) The coffee is mediocre, costs £2.20 and comes in a paper cup.
This film is set in 1972. Before laptops existed. (And I really actually like trains.)
1991 – Certificate: PG – USA
Before I watched this film I couldn’t remember anything about it or why I’d bought it. Neither the overview nor the trailer suggested that it’s going to be anything other than a fairly crappy, 90s, mainstream Hollywood romantic/family comedy with a precocious, ‘Hollywood-style’ kid in it. An evening of British stoicism beckoned, as I looked forward to 98 minutes of mediocre averageness. But when a film starts with an 11-year-old girl speaking directly into the camera, claiming to have caught haemorrhoids and explaining how her breasts are developing at different rates and that means she’s got cancer, does suggest that it’s going to have more balls that it ought to. (Sorry if that all sounds a bit Jimmy Savilley, it’s not meant to.) For a PG rated film, I bet that freaked out a few parents in the cinema! It’s basically a film about death, a suitable depressing topic that probably explains why I bought it in the first place. In the end, it still turned out to be a 90s, mainstream Hollywood romantic/family comedy with a precocious, ‘Hollywood-style’ kid in it, but at times it’s also a genuinely touching and powerful bit of drama. The adults are more or less cardboard cut-out characters, but the kids make the film come alive and the script’s surprising subtle. It’s got a good soundtrack too. (Problem is, I still can’t get used to Dan Aykroyd not hunting ghosts, or Jamie Lee Curtis not fighting Michael Myers.)
Recommended for people who want to revisit the experience of losing someone they love.
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? Vada sulking in the supermarket and throwing can after can from the shelf into the trolley. Am I the only one who thinks doing this without looking at the shelf or fumbling any of the cans, whilst the trolley is moving, was pretty clever? It’s hard to make sulking look cool, so managing to do so is badass.