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Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Starring: Charles Bronson, Kay Lenz, John P. Ryan, Soon-Tek Oh, Perry Lopez, Dana Barron, George Dickerson, Mike Moroff, and Danny Trejo
Having seemingly retired from vigilante-ing, Paul Kersey (Bronson) continues with his architecture work. He’s in a loving relationship with reporter Karen Sheldon (Lenz), and he has a great relationship with her daughter, Erica (Barron). But the streets keep calling Kersey back, as a new wave of drug violence, primarily cocaine and crack, are causing havoc in L.A. When Erica becomes a victim, Kersey snaps back into his old ways, and soon punks everywhere are fearing the name Frank Lloyd Wright...er...Kersey. Apparently, his reputation precedes him, as a wealthy bigwig (Ryan) hires him to work his magic on two rival gangs, one run by Zacharias (Lopez) and the other by Romero (Moroff). Kersey then pits the two gangs against each other, thereby cleaning the streets in the process. But two cops, Reiner and Nozaki (Dickerson and Oh, respectively) are watching Kersey’s every move. You’d think they’d appreciate the help, but anyway, Kersey must go it alone against the evildoers of the night. Can he do it...again?
You’ve gotta love Bronson and the Death Wish series, and this installment makes it easy to see why fans have such loyalty. It’s a very enjoyable movie, that simultaneously stays current, shrewdly using the then-current crack epidemic to leverage another series installment, while maintaining an awesome “anti-young punk” attitude later perfected by Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino (2008). Bronson and director Thompson , while technically eligible for their AARP cards, prove the point that young punks suck and old badasses rule.
Plus we liked the idea that at this point in his vigilante career, he might consider hanging it up, but he ends up working for someone else. We thought that was a cool way to advance the series-wide plotline. From the second he says “I feel like she’s my own daughter”, about Erica, we know...it’s on.
Plus it’s great to see him in a variety of different situations - a lot of which are hugely nostalgic to 80’s buffs like us - such as a video store (with posters for fellow Cannon titles Breakin’ - interestingly it’s for its title Breakdance - and Field of Honor, among others) and not just an arcade, with Spy Hunter and other games, but a combination roller rink/arcade, as a separate location. It doesn’t get any more awesome if you’re looking for a cool place to hang out in the 80’s. But when Kersey rips through with his machine gun while chasing the baddies, you know he cares not for frivolous fun, he’s out for blood.
Well-directed by the veteran Thompson, with a nice pace and plenty of cool moments, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (get it? Crack? Crackdown? Eh?), released by Media, proves to be a reliable winner.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett