The granddaddy of vigilantism is back for another round of explicit mayhem. What's revolting, if not surprising, about this salute to Bernie Goetz, the NRA, and All-American contempt for civil liberties, is the casual inevitability of all the violence.
New York's garment district turns into Dodge City as mobster Tommy O'Shea (Michael Parks) muscles in on the fashion trade of his ex-wife Olivia Regent (Lesley-Anne Down). She's engaged to Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson), who provides a sense of security for herself and her daughter Chelsea (Erica
Lancaster). Olivia isn't impressed when Tommy tortures her manager, Al (Jefferson Mapin), so Tommy hires an enforcer, Freddie Flakes (Robert Joy); this master of disguise dons women's clothing to follow Olivia into a ladies' room, where he smashes her face into a mirror causing permanent
disfigurement. In the offices of D.A. Hoyle (Saul Rubinek) and his watchdog associate Hector Vasquez (Miguel Sandoval), Kersey and Olivia Regent vow to prosecute Tommy. Freddie and two gunsels disguise themselves as cops, infiltrate Olivia's apartment, and shoot her dead. Now Kersey is ready to
take justice into his own hands. He follows Tommy's thug Chickie Paconi (Kevin Lund) to his family bistro, where Kersey laces Chickie's cannelloni with cyanide. Next he tricks Freddie out of his fortress-like home and blows him up with a rigged ball. After dispatching treacherous Vasquez with a
gun concealed in a doll, Kersey discovers that his buddy Hoyle is in cahoots with Tommy. Using Chelsea as bait, O'Shea lures Kersey to Olivia's factory. Inside, Kersey employs his wits and various mechanical devices to eliminate several O'Shea supporters, including Hoyle. When honest cop Lt. King
(Kenneth Welsh) arrives, O'Shea shoots him, giving Kersey an excuse to push him into an acid bath.
The DEATH WISH series celebrates the American fighting spirit in ways that make modern cities resemble lawless frontiers. Like the lone heroes of the Wild West, Kersey seems locked in a vigilante time warp where it's always high noon. At its heart, however, this brutal actioner is a glorified
splatter flick. With its shredder, plastic wrap cocoon machine, mobile clothing transport hooks, and acid bath, DEATH WISH 5 is a close relative of contemporary fright films like the FRIDAY THE 13TH series. Although this entry is competently directed, the series seems to have lost the zip and
flashes of wit that made the first DEATH WISH so memorably repellent. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity.) leave a comment