Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor
always admire filmmakers that follow the
golden rule of sequels laid down by Joe
Bob Briggs - "If you're going to make
a sequel, do it right and make the same
damn movie all over again." Take a
look at just about every FRIDAY THE 13TH
flick, EVIL DEAD 2 and even stuff I wasn't
crazy about like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
2. If it works once, let's just do it again!
You can add Charles Bronson's
DEATH WISH series to the list. DW4: THE
CRACKDOWN directed by Cannon vet
J Lee Thompson takes place about
three years after the weak DEATH WISH 3.
Bronson's Paul Kersey is running an architectural
design firm and for the last two years he's
been dating Kay Lenz, a widow with a daughter
in high school.
The couple is SO CLOSE that
ol' Squinty Eyes even thinks of the teen
as his own. To even the most casual of observers,
this means that she'll be hitting the steel
slab mighty soon.
The kid dies from an overdose
of bad crack (as opposed to that good crack
we've heard so much about) and the tragedy
forces Bronson out of retirement so that
he can off the scum that gave her the drugs.
Pretty soon a wealthy businessman whose
daughter also died of an overdose is stockpiling
the vigilante so that he can wipe out the
rival traffickers that control most of the
drug biz in So Cal.
Pretty soon the screen is
filled with warring drug factions, inept
cops on Bronson's tail, a couple cool shootouts,
exploding wine bottles and lots of vigilantekata.
There's even a nod to CHINATOWN for the
completely brain dead members of the viewing
Poor Kay Lenz, though. Her
role as "The Girlfriend" amounts
to about 20 minutes in the first reel and
then she disappears until she's needed for
"The Climactic Shootout." Truly
a shame, especially since she was still
a fabulous babe when this flick was made
and she makes for a nice visual distraction
from ol' Chuck (see the underrated STRIPPED
TO KILL for further proof).
CRACKDOWN's cinematic highlights
include an EMPIRE STRIKES BACK-esque dream
sequence and the by-the-books-Bronson turn
that pretty much defined the man's work
in the 80s. Whether he's in the PG-rated
action/romance ASSASSINATION (another underrated
flick from his Cannon days) or the creepy
killer-on-the-loose 10 TO MIDNIGHT (also
with Thompson), it's almost the exact same
However, you gotta admire
the man's staying power seven years
after CRACKDOWN he saddled up one last time
to play the role of Paul Kersey in DEATH
WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH with Lesley Anne-Down
and Michael Parks.