BY: Andy Earles
The Hilarious Years (1969-1999)
A cursory overview of the robotic ass-kicker's 2nd and 3rd wave of films
I suppose that a brief introduction is in order. In January of 1999, to the delight of several viewers, a piece of blindfolded uber-crap entitled Family Of Cops III aired on prime time TV. Like most made-for-TV action movies, this one would have no cultural impact whatsoever, except for the fact that it would mark the last ever film appearance of Charles Bronson. Born Charles Buchinski on Nov. 2nd, 1921, this "actor" would enjoy a fairly legitimate career throughout the 50's and 60's, starring in such high profile films as The Dirty Dozen, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and The Battle Of The Bulge. That era is what I have dubbed 'st wave Bronson, and it is perhaps of interest to someone besides myself. Most of his films were of Italian origin as the 70's approached, and while enjoying only mild popularity in the states, he was the number one box office draw in Europe. This was also the point in which the typecast would emerge, you know, the "ass-stomping-wooden-statue" typecast that would be utilized until his day of retirement (January 22, 1999). Make no mistake, this man was/is a very, very bad actor, but that's the beauty of it all. From 1970 until 1974, this was the formula: Throw the man in a three-piece suit, give him a sidekick (like Jan-Michael Vincent, for instance) and a weak-ass, faux-stylish crime-based plot, and let him do his stuff, whatever that was. I use 1974 as a boundary because that's when the world was given Death Wish, which made Charles a worldwide superstar at the tender age of 53. This movie both solidified and broke down the aforementioned typecast that had been gestating for about five years. On one hand, it opened him up for more varied roles in tamer action/adventure flicks (until the close of the 70's). These opportunities weren't due to his improved acting, because it didn't improve, they happened because of his newly acquired top o' the world status. On the opposing appendage, not only was Death Wish responsible for a bevy of absurd sequels, it also spawned the ultimate, yes this is possible, dumbing down of Bronson.
So basically, we're going to look at a selection of films from Bronson's 2nd wave (1969 - 1980) and last wave (1980 - 1999). The 2nd wave was typified by films of the "silent shit-kicker" variety and films that were toned down with pathetic attempts at style, social commentary, and "comedy." Aside from The Indian Runner, the 3rd wave is a flawlessly bad, two-decade stint in the realm of adventure romps, utter action/horror depravity, Tuesday night TV cop stories, and weakass morality messages. To help with this read, I have included some helpful facts following each review. "Bronson's dwellings" - a quick explanation of what the director thought would serve as an appropriate living space. "Jill Ireland?" - did he or did he not star alongside his spouse of 22 years (she succumbed to cancer in 1990) "Bronson kills" - number of bad guys that fall under his wrath during the film in question. "Acting effort" - this is a 1 - 10 rating on how badly he slept through this role. A '10' being a genuinely acted, colorful role, and '1' being something that resembles lines left on the TJ Hooker cutting room floor. "Notable one-liner" - self-explanatory. "Hilarious movie title?" - does this movie sound ridiculous when you name off your choice of evening rentals? And lastly, "Bronson's actual age upon film's release" - A lot of times, this little tidbit will be mind-blowing, trust me.
Also, it will appear immediately obvious that I have left out a "significant" portion of this man's post-1969 career. This is due to my lack of patience and my local video store's lack of stock. Hey, there is a point when it's no longer entertaining.
Lola (1969) dir. Richard Donner
I have never seen this film, but I know enough to justify it's inclusion. Brace yourself. Charles plays a 38 year-old (he was actually 48!!!) porno writer, Susan George plays a 16 year-old nymphet, and I'll let you guess what the plot consists of. You may remember George as the infuriating problem causer in Straw Dogs. Lola was originally known as Twinky or A Statutory Affair in the UK, but the title was changed for American release - presumably so that it would be associated with Kubrick's wildly popular predecessor. David Dunlap Jr. doesn't believe that this film exists, simply because, and I quote, "I don't believe that Charles Bronson plays any kind of a writer in a film." Now, go change your drawers. Richard Donner's amazing directorial resume includes The Fugitive, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, Cannon, Kojak, The Six Million Dollar Man, Sarah T: Portrait Of A Teenage Alcoholic, and that's just TV! He's also responsible for The Omen, Superman I - II, The Toy, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon I - IV, and fucking Ladyhawke. Bronson's dwellings: Dunno Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: Yeah, the viewer. Acting effort: Mmm...I'm guessing a "4" - not quite bad, but depressing at the least. Notable one-liner: I wish I knew. Let's make one up: "Hey, we have a lot in common!!" Hilarious movie title? Kind of, if you know the story. Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 48
Cold Sweat (1971) dir. Terence Young
Not exactly your run'o the mill Bronson vehicle, well, not overall. There is a fair amount of over-confident ass-whompin', and the expected absence of acting is in full effect. What makes it different is the somewhat old school, military-themed plot centered around a past war crime (WWII) that our #1 robot emerged scott free from, while his buddies rotted in jail. I won't go into detail, simply because it's not that interesting, but the crime began small (some kind of escape plan) and escalated when a German soldier is stabbed by one of Bronson's cronnies. Bronson runs, changes his name, sweeps his past underneath the rug, and all the sudden we're in France 1971, chartering boats for the local spit mouths. As you can probably guess in your sleep, the gang gets out of jail and comes lookin' for retribution - retribution in the form of using Bronson's boat to go out to sea and pick up a big load of "the brown stuff." Did I mention that one of the war criminals is way overplayed by James Mason? It seems as though Jill Ireland was written into the flick at the last moment, as she bursts onto the screen playing some kind of full-on boardroom created "hippie" character, complete with acoustic guitar and perpetual joint in hand. She is extremely successful at irritating the fuck out of me during this particular film. Bronson's dwellings: A seaside villa Jill Ireland? Yes Bronson kills: 3 Acting effort: '5' Notable one-liner: Not really Hilarious movie title? Yes Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 50
The Mechanic (1972) dir. Michael Winner
Aging hit man trains up and comer Jan-Michael Vincent on the tools of the killing trade. Has one really good counter-culture scene in which both men watch Vincent's hippie girlfriend attempt suicide via slit-wrists, and wait until absolutely the last minute before contacting an ambulance. Tries and fails at being stylish. Contains a mildly entertaining twist at the end. Some consider this to be the best of the Michael Winner non-Death Wish movies. Some people are wrong. Bronson's dwellings: Massive hillside mansion Jill Ireland? Yes Bronson kills: A whopping 24 Acting effort: '4' Notable one-liner: Not really Hilarious movie title? Most definitely Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 51
The Stone Killer (1973) dir. Michael Winner
Also stars Normon Fell and Martin Balsam - This hackwork is basically a two hour episode of Mannix, except there's a little more blood and, well, there's Bronsy at the helm. Not without plenty of comedy, this film features some great "counterculture" scenes in which Bronson (Lt. Tory) searches for clues amidst "the underground." Of course, Bronson is the only cop on the force that's "down with the Black Panthers," which results in a race riot when an unfamiliar cop is sent into the projects to nab someone for questioning. Discontentwith said situation results in Bronson screaming, "You sent that cracker to the projects?!?!?" Though Bronson's character projects a streetwise, liberal aesthetic, he does threaten the hippie owner of a hippie deli with "a roughing up courtesy of the Vice Squad" if she doesn't relinquish the information that he needs. Soon after, he interrupts a rural commune for the purpose of questioning a female peace-bear suspect. She predictably offers him sex (I've never done it with The Man before), and he predictably declines, stating "another time, another place, another cop." About that time, and for no apparent reason, the entire area erupts into a hilarious acid-rock hoe-down. Hippies falling all over the place and a "band" cranking out some spur-of-the-moment, 9th rate Hot Tuna causes Bronson to vacate the area before he dirties up his three-piece suit. The rest is run of the mill street cop fare. Bronson's dwellings: An apartment Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 10 Acting effort: '7' Notable one-liner: "another time, another place, another cop" Hilarious movie title? Maybe Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 52
Chino (1973) dir. John Sturges
Note: John Sturges directed Gunfight At The O.K. Corral, The Magnificent Seven, etc. Bronson is a "half-breed" that raises horses and teaches Leif Garrett lookalikes in the ways of whoopin' ass. Plot: Chino has to fight for his land, falls for evil landowner's sister (Jill Ireland), trains boy to tend horses, drags ass, drags ass, drags ass, drags ass, drags ass. Ireland, though breathtakingly gorgeous once again, seems to enjoy embarrassing herself with very fake British accents and very real sub-local-weatherman acting. Avoid. Bronson's dwellings: The "frontier" Jill Ireland? Yes Bronson kills: 2 Acting effort: '3' Notable one-liner: "I just want a bottle of whisky!" Hilarious movie title? Nope Bronson's actual age upon release of movie: 52
The Death Wish Quintology
Death Wish (1974) dir. Michael Winner
So the saga begins. This is probably Bronson's best-known and most credible post-1970 film. It differs from the sequels in that Bronson's sequel-famous Paul Kersey (bleeding-heart liberal architect) is vulnerable and very human in comparison with his other action roles. At the beginning of the film, he frowns upon a co-workers suggestion to "put muggers and rapists in concentration camps." This was probably my father's favorite movie of all time, and I have fond adolescent memories of being banned from the room during the assault scene. Perhaps you know the drill: Bronson's liberal viewpoints on crime are altered somewhat when his wife is killed and his daughter raped by three muggers. Our three assailants are straight out of an early 70's Sociology textbook - they hoot and holler through the grocery store, they knock over merchandise, one of them actually wears a "Jughead" style hat, and one purchases a can of spray paint while flaunting it to the checkout girl in a "yeah, look what I just bought" fashion. Oh yeah, one of them is Jeff Goldblum in his first ever movie role. The attack is quick, but still effectively disturbing. Movie scenes that involve someone getting kicked in the head, repeatedly, are not my cup of tea. Confusingly, Jeff Goldblum either urinates on the daughter or forces her to perform fellatio, it's very hard to discern. Weaponless attackers should know better than to stick their members in the victim's faces, as I'm sure cries of "BITE IT OFF!!!!" were heard around the globe during this movies theatrical premiere. Since we never see these particular criminals again, the tagging of "revenge movie" is questionable, because Charles takes out his slooooowly (but realistically) built aggressions out on every form of street thug he approaches. Before utilizing real weaponry, Kersey goes to the bank and changes a twenty-dollar bill for two quarter rolls. These are placed inside of a sock so that they may be placed upside the head of Paul's first attacker. He's shaking so violently after this victory that he can barely fix his scotch and water upon returning home.In case you were wondering, he purposely walks around shady areas in order to provoke crimes against himself. Jesus, I guess that it's about halfway through the flick before he gets a damn pistol and starts delivering the junkie/mugger justice. City wide vigilante fever ensues, and the bronchitis-inflicted police chief must do something. Very funny faux news footage of the New York citizens fighting back - probably one of few laugh generators to be found here. Famous soft-hearted ending will have your elderly relatives fisting the air 60 Minutes style. Bronson's dwellings: Posh, high-rise apartment Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 10 Acting effort: '6' Notable one-liner: "Hey, what am I supposed to do, mope around all the time?" Hilarious movie title? Not anymore Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 53
Death Wish II (1981) dir. Michael Winner
My pick of the litter for sheer weirdness, violence, and imagery. Because the 70's weren't that sequel-friendly, everyone had to wait 7 years for a second installment of Paul Kersey's patented vigilante justice, even though this one is supposed to be set only 4 years after the original. This time around, Paul gets pick-pocketed and the "street trash" responsible show up at his house a little later. Paul's busy trying to spend quality time with his catatonic daughter (yes, a result of Jeff Goldblum's advances in the first film, though this is a different actress playing Carol Kersey), but all of this comes to a halt when he arrives home to find the housekeeper raped, and a gang of street thugs waiting for him. They beat his ass and kidnap his daughter, who is later raped and impaled on a wrought-iron fence after a failed escape attempt. AND SO BEGINS THE JUSTICE. Let me add that his girlfriend (Jill Ireland) is a radio news announcer who firmly believes in criminal rehabilitation. He rents a cheap room in the "bad area" of town and buys some black clothing from a thrift shop. His room serves as a kind of "vigilante HQ" for weapons storage, street prowlage, wound dressing, etc. He has his locks changed so that Ireland can't enter the apartment and notice his nightly absence. Two great pre-killing statements include: "Do you believe in Jesus? Well, you're about to meet him" and "Goodbye." Despite critical nay-saying, this film allegedly grossed an insane amount at the box office. Bronson's dwellings: Nondescript suburban home, cheap hotel Jill Ireland? Yes Bronson kills: 10 Acting effort: '4' Notable one-liner: "Do you believe in Jesus? Well, you're about to meet him." Hilarious movie title? Nah Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 60
Death Wish 3 (1985) dir. Michael Winner
This is simply a remarkable example of comic genius. You can't beat this level of ludicrousness with a pimp stick. The acting appears almost improvised, well, improvised by drunks or lobotomy recipients. But we are dealing with actors here, the most notable being Martin Balsam (you know, the guy that you always confuse with Ernest Borgnine) and the screen debut of Alex Winter ('Bill' from Bill and Teds......). Oh yeah, Ed Lauter is the police chief (a role that he has played in at least 20 films, you may not know the name, but the face is unmistakable) who initially gives Paul a hard time, but teams up with him in the end to blow away street scum. Never seen that one before. Basically, Paul starts to protect an apartment building from the street gang that runs the neighborhood. Sounds simple, but the demographics make no sense whatsoever. The building tenants are all very moral, old, and aside from a Hispanic couple, white. The exterior of the building looks like a housing project, but the interiors of the individual apartments are quite nice, much nicer than my apartment at least. This plot flaw is much funnier than it sounds, trust me. The street gang hoots and hollers at all hours, right outside the building, as if this is some bad stage play that lacks the room to film what they need to. Bronson invites himself to dinner with the old Jewish couple on the first floor, because they're having boiled cabbage and it "smelled so good out in the hall" (obviously losing his sense of smell if he thinks boiled cabbage smells like anything other than hot, festering garbage), then he momentarily excuses himself from the table to shoot two hoodlums dead in the street. Albeit they were trying to steal his car, but it's still a priceless scene. In the final, 20 minute full-on riot scene, Bronson uses a 40-caliber machine gun and an anti-tank rocket launcher against his enemies. A laugh-a-fucking-minute! Don't miss it!!! Bronson's dwellings: Inhabits home of recently killed, elderly "war buddy" Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 55!!! Acting effort: '2' Notable one-liner: (silence) Hilarious movie title? Getting there Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 64
Death Wish IV: The Crackdown (1987) dir. J Lee Thompson
"Bronson verses cocaine" is exactly what it sounds like: A plot shat directly from comedy heaven. Has a lot of the Reagan era, drugs are killing the children dogma common to this type of flick, but how many of those movies have a 66 year old man throwing kilos of coke around a room whilst screaming "How many kids have you killed with this shit!!!!!" We are jettisoned into a fantasy land where one elderly man can take an AK-47 to a fully staffed, fully armed cocaine warehouse, then blow up the entire compound!!! Why is he so pissed? Well, his girlfriend's daughter died of a coke overdose, dummy!!! He is then hired by a mysterious man to pit two rival drug gangs against each other, which is a set-up of course, dummy!!! There's a ten minute scene during which he fashions a bomb out of a wine bottle!!! He poses as a wine dealer and blows up a table of goons, not to mention an innocent bartender!!! You may ask, "What doth thou Paul Kersey useth to flatten the loftiest of villains in thee finale?" A rocket launcher, dummy!!!! Bronson's dwellings: Posh suburban home Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 41 Acting effort: '1' Notable one-liner: "How many children have you killed with this shit?!?!?!?!?" Hilarious movie title? Finally, YES!!! Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 66
Death Wish V: The Face Of Death (1994) dir. Allen A. Goldstein
This shouldn't really be classified as a vigilante movie per se, as Charles fights the mob in this, the last of the sequels. Multi-ethnic street gangs and knife-wielding members of The Exploited = entertainment. Catoonish mobs ("Ehhhhhhh Toooony, looks like someone needs to go swimmin' heh, heh, heh, heh, heh,") DO NOT. Our hero was 73 three years old when this film was released straight to video. I lasted long enough to see that Saul Rubinek (very common sub-star) was granted a role in this tedious piece of shit. Bronson's dwellings: Same as above Bronson kills: 8 Acting effort: Borders on nothing Notable one-liner: "Hey, I'm an architect." Hilarious movie title? Maybe Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 73
Mr. Majestyk (1974) dir. Richard Fliescher
It really wasn't my intention to dwell on Bronson vehicles that I actually regard as genuinely great in a non-ironic fashion, but I'll do my best to make this an entertaining read. It's hard to go wrong with a solid Elmore Leonard screenplay, namely one about pushing a honest hard-luck case too far. I guess that there's a vigilante air about it, but aside from some blatant action scenes, everything here is believable for a fucking change. As I said above, it's basically your 70's "push a man too far" story done really well, with characters that breathe personality and look great. Bronson plays a tough watermelon farmer with a heart of...well....sugar or something. He avoids cracking a lot of jokes, or skulls for that matter, saving the good ass-whompings and above-average dialogue (meaning, it transcends the Dr. Who style he so favors) for when they're needed. Al Lettieri is fantastic as the big-time hit man that Bronson somewhat inadvertently pisses off. Pretty violent for a PG flick, but that comes with the decade in question. As far as this genre goes, it's not as creepy or moving as Night Moves, but that's because it's a Charles Bronson movie - still a good little slice of, shall we say, "bubblegum noir." Highly recommended. Bronson's dwellings: A watermelon farm Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 6 Acting effort: '8' Notable one-liner: "You gonna eat your breakfast?" Hilarious movie title? Uh...I'd say so Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 53 *(who also directed Soylent Green!!!)
Breakout (1975) dir. Tom Gries
(directed the I Spy, Mission:Impossible, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. television shows) This was Bronson's next movie after Death Wish, so I guess that explains why his role is "lightened up" a bit. Let's just call that a bad move, ok? He spits out bad one liner after bad one liner and he never fires a gun once. So, as you may have ascertained, this one bites. Jill Ireland hires Charles to rescue her framed husband (Robert Duvall, who does absolutely nothing throughout the entire film) from a Mexican prison. Randy Quaid always sucks, so it doesn't help that he plays Bronson's dumbass sidekick. Nobody acts worth a shit in this film, not even John Huston, who has a minor role. Don't even give this five minutes if it's on TV, unless it's to gaze at Jill Ireland, who retained her beauty well into the 70's. Bronson's dwellings: An airstrip Jill Ireland? Yep Bronson kills: no one Acting effort: A very grating '3' Notable one-liner: None Hilarious movie title? No Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 54
St. Ives (1976) dir. J. Lee Thompson
A Columbo-styled, made-for-TV street yarn that wasn't made-for-TV, St. Ives fluctuates between hilarious and boring as all hell. Bronson plays Raymond St. Ives, an unsuccessful novelist and former crime columnist who (second one I know of where he plays a writer - RIGHT!!!) fancies the "jack-of-all-trades" lifestyle. The "jack-of-all-trades" lifestyle is a product of Hollywood in which a well-known man about town gets to sleep all day and be offered certain "jobs" by important people with lots of money and favors to ask. Ray gambles constantly, has a troublesome ex-wife, a stressed out lawyer/keeper, a high-rise efficiency apartment, a sporty Jaguar, and is always cool-headed (i.e. badly acted). The story? Who cares when you have a sublimely hack cast? John Houseman as the millionaire "genius" of crime who is constantly screening old films (the movie's most blatant example of unoriginality). Daniel J. Travanti (the poor man's Roy Schieder) runs a stolen car ring, or something like that, and Jaqueline Bissett (the female Michael Caine) is the sex interest. Bronson's dwellings: High-rise efficiency Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 1 Acting effort: '5' Notable one-liner: "Yeah I'm worried about health, your health." Hilarious movie title? Very much so Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 55
Telefon (1977) dir. Don Siegal (of Dirty Harry fame)
Let's face the facts, most actors of Bronson's caliber and era where required to stop WWIII at least once during their careers. The "Telefon" mind-control project consists of 55 Russians transplanted in America shortly after the Korean War and brainwashed into believing that they are American citizens (this part is predictably foggy). If they hear a particular line to a Robert Frost poem, they immediately (in a laughable Zombie-like fashion) dig out some conveniently stored away explosives and head to the nearest government facility to blow shit apart. The KGB wisely scrapped the project years ago, along with the names and addresses of the stateside subjects. Too bad a rogue agent (Donald Pleasance) has found the info, popped over to the States, and has kicked off his own little poetry slams via the telephone. This movie furthers my belief in the "Donald Pleasance Thespian School Of British Whore Actors," of which Michael Caine is in the first graduating class. This society of weak-ass Shakespearean dipshits relying on their accents has infiltrated the world of film to a horrifying degree, and must be stopped at all levels. Pleasance's characteristic "eyes-about-to-pop-out-shifty-paranoia" shtick is non-stop in this vehicle, in case for some reason you can't get enough of that. As far as Bronson is concerned, Mr "I'm an expensive actor now" doesn't appear on screen until 22 minutes have passed, then it's as a KGB agent with a perfect American accent. Well, to tell you the truth, all of the KGB agents in this movie have perfect American accents. But don't look overseas for the comedy, the U.S. government officials portrayed here speak exclusively on red telephones, and one of them is a very irritating Tyne Daly. She's obsessed with statistics, and statistics are produced by computers (the room-filling, monochrome display variety), so her role is to rattle off at the mouth until one of her superiors puts down the receiver to his red telephone and interrupts her. Repeat this scene about 27 times. Charles has a photographic memory, so he's sent to the States to stop Pleasance, who is spelling his surname across the country via phonecall induced bombings. This era marked the heyday of violence in PG-rated movies (if you disagree, think Jaws, The Deep, Badlands, and the formerly reviewed Mr. Majestyk) and Telefon delivers two splattering headwounds and a live rattlesnake getting blown to pieces (a scene that really bothered me as a child). Worth seeing on cable, if only for the comedy. Bronson's dwellings: Somewhere in Russia Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 4 Acting effort: '6' Notable one-liner: "Don't make me kill you" Hilarious movie title? Absolutely Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 56
Borderline (1980) dir. - Ed Harris' debut?
Well, he debuts by blowing a mammoth hole in Wilfred Brimley with a sawed-off shotgun. Ed's been smugglin' illegal aliens across the border for extra pocket coin. Bronson's the border cop that's going to track down the killer and stop the smugglin'. Wilfred was in TV's Our House, and he eats a whole lot of oatmeal. I am a Kids, Don't Talk To Strangers cartoon chinchilla. Congratulations, you've just won tickets to attend a concert performance by Carrot Top, the funniest man on earth. Bronson's dwellings: Depressing apartment Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 2 Acting effort: '4' Notable one-liner: not really Hilarious movie title? No Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 59
10 'til Midnight (1983) dir. J. Lee Thompson
Wow. Not even the high-school-film-project quality of the gore and acting make this even slightly entertaining. This is a very, very bad "tough cop after a serial killer" movie that reveals who the killer is within the first five minutes. Of course, Bronson knows all along, but he gets kicked off the case when he beats some suspect ass in the interrogation room. Lucky for our hero, his daughter is in danger, so that problem eventually leads to him shooting the killer square in the forehead in front of the entire police force. With Wilford Brimley as the obligatorily fat police chief. This is a very, very bad movie. Bronson's dwellings: "divorced" style apartment Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 1 Acting effort: Please Notable one-liner: After interrogating and beating the crap out of a suspect at "the station", Bronson pulls some "evidence" (a battery-powered vagina) out of a bag and screams: "WHAT IS THIS?????? YOU USE IT TO JERK OFF?!?!?!?!?!?" Hilarious movie title? No Bronson's actual age upon release of film: Please add the phrase "62 years of age" with the above one-liner for instant laughs.
The Evil That Men Do (1984) dir. J. Lee Thompson
A fairly exploitive effort that's redeemable only for the unpredictable killings and very odd sexual overtones (for a Bronson flick). Charles plays Holland, a retired hitman who jumps back in the game to stop the sadistic doctor that killed an old buddy. That's really all you need to know. Actually, it's very violent, with death by electrocution (electrodes are attached to a man's nipples and scrotum), a very slow knife in the throat scene, and for the eye-catching: A man is pushed out of a high rise window with a fire hose tied around his neck. We also get to listen to Bronson discuss having a threesome with a HUGE black man and a tiny Hispanic lady (who poses as his wife). "Me and Nancy here are into all kinds of things." When a massive tough guy hits on his wife in the same bar, Bronson causes him to pass out from pain by nearly ripping the man's dick off. In another ridiculous scene, he gets stuck underneath the bed that two women are having congress on. Absurd, but not recommended. Bronson's dwellings: A tropical island Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 9 Acting effort: '3' Notable one-liner: "Ah Hector, like I told George, I'm retired. Look!" - right before being talked into "helping out" Hilarious movie title? No Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 63
Murphy's Law (1986) dir. J. Lee Thompson
In quite the surprise role, Chuck plays the manager of a subpar Long Island punk rock band. He enjoys filling their contemporaries with buckshot. or..... A full year before Swimming To Cambodia, Bronson breaks ground by sitting in a room for two hours and quoting from the Murphy's Law "humor" book series, appending his own witticisms to each passage: "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, or I can simply attack you with a crossbow." "If you think that it's bad, it probably is. This is because I'm going to kick your ass up and down the street." and so on..... or..... Bronson is an alcoholic detective (YES!!!!) who gets framed for murder. He escapes hand cuffed to a foul-mouthed tart and precedes to straighten his situation. Boring as all hell. Bronson's dwellings: The slammer Jill Ireland? No Bronson kills: 5 Acting effort: '5' Notable one-liner: "Nobody fucks with Jack Murphy!!!" Hilarious movie title? Could be Bronson's actual age upon release of film: 650
WHAT HATH BRONSON WROUGHT?
Death Wish single-handedly spawned a "vigilante" sub-genre of film that lasted well into the 90's. Here is a far from complete overview of some classics:
Vigilante Force (1976)
With Jan Michael Vincent and Kris Kristofferson. Holds true to the Vietnam Vet Vigilante motif common to most of these films. This features hilarious costumes (the final shootout has the opposing forces wearing coon-skin caps), Kristofferson breaking up a cockfight by shooting the chickens, protagonist brother to antagonist brother conflict - it's a winner!!!!
Another one with Jan Michael Vincent. He fights a Hispanic street gang, and things predictably heat up after they kill his elderly buddy Abe (Art Carney). It seems as though the villains always have to off a septuagenarian in order to instigate some serious ass kicking in these movies. Also with Danny Aiello, who probably plays a storeowner or something, I don't quite remember.
The Exterminator (1980) and The Exterminator II
The first one is unbelievable. To spend time on it in these pages would only serve to jeopardize the already questionable integrity of this piece. Let's just say that we have another Vietnam vet, yes, but this one uses a flame-thrower to kill his adversaries!!!!! A very over-the-top flick. Never seen the sequel.
Fighting Back (1982)
Have I seen this? Hell no, but at least I'm admitting it - the rest of this damn piece remains a guessing game FOR YOU. It's got Tom Skerrit and Yaphet Koto, so it's highly recommended, sight unseen.
From what can gather, we get a Death Wish-style plot (family or loved ones attacked) and not much else. With Robert Forster, who you may remember as "Max Cherry" from Jackie Brown (1997), or the main guy in Alligator (1980). However, you probably do not remember him from Kinky Koaches The Pom Pom Pussycats (1980), Point Of Seduction: Body Chemistry III (1994), or Scanner Cop II (1995).
The Star Chamber (1983)
A little headier than most vigilante films, this stars Michael Douglas, which doesn't matter one bit. What does matter is that Hal Holbrook and Yaphet Koto also star, and they always make much more interesting screen figures. Plot involves a frustrated judge who joins up with a secret vigilante society. Great name one, this one.
REASONS WHY CHUCK BRONSON HAS MORE INTEGRITY THAN CHUCK NORRIS
Chuck Norris' first major role didn't occur until 1977, when he starred in Breaker Breaker - a movie that nonsensically combined martial arts and truck driving.
Bronson never materialized out of nowhere in order to teach a child martial arts (Sidekicks 1992). Charles Bronson didn't give a fuck about the children, except when they do something important to the plot, like OD on cocaine.
Charles Bronson never needed a schtick, such as Kung Fu. He favored the more realistic and manly route of guns, knives, and his bare hands. Bronson was better dressed.
Chuck Norris starred in Invasion U.S.A. (1995), Delta Force (1996), and Delta Force II: Operation Stranglehold. All are pro-U.S.A. terrorists-paranoia flicks in which Norris offs about 450 people of middle-eastern descent per movie. Bronson never quite sunk to this level. Charles Bronson is not an honorary D.E.A agent
Bronson was too old to play a Vietnam vet. Norris however, starred in all three Missing In Action films. These wouldn't have been made had there not been a massive contingent of fat, white, commie-hatin', fantasy-believin', Coors swillin' Lazy-Boy tumors shitting their trousers every time a skinny-white dude busted out of the jungle unloading an anti-helicopter machine gun and simultaneously killing corrupt government officials with his mind.
Charles Bronson never starred opposite a fucking dog in a police buddy movie (Top Dog, 1995).
An elderly fan willed Bronson, a man that she had never met, her life savings.