Action Movie Fanatix Review: Death Wish II

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First His Wife.  Now His Daughter.  It’s Time To Even The Score!

Starring: Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Vincent Gardenia, J. D. Cannon, Anthony Franciosa, Laurence Fishburne

Director: Michael Winner

1982  |  91 Minutes  |  Rated R

“You believe in Jesus?” – Paul Kersey
“Yes, I do.” – Stomper
“Well, you’re gonna meet him.” – Paul Kersey

The Death Wish series set the bar for all revenge thrillers to follow and Death Wish II set the series on a wild, more action oriented course that all of the sequels would follow.

Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) fights street thugs in his new home city of Los Angeles after the brutal murders of his housekeeper and his daughter.

In the first Death Wish Paul Kersey sought to clean up the streets of New York and now, with the sequel, he has his sights set on the next logical target… Los Angeles.

With number two, the Death Wish series took a quick turn down the action lane.  Rather than the slow burn that was the original Death Wish, Death Wish II gets right to it.

Death Wish II isn’t going to be for everyone.  It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.  The movie has a rather severe rape scene very early on.  I don’t know anybody who really enjoys watching rape scenes but this one is especially hard to watch.  It does have a purpose, however, as it basically sets up the entire rest of the movie, giving us more than enough reason to root for Kersey to track these low lives down and kill them.

And kill them he does.  The only problem is that there really isn’t much original.  There’s more killing that the first movie but it is really just more of the same.  He tracks them, he finds them, he shoots them with a pistol.  Over and over again.  It’s not completely boring but I could have done with a bit more variety.

Now, in between tracking and killing the rapists and murderers, Paul Kersey carries on about his life (minus his daughter).  He’s back at work as an architect almost immediately and more or less continues on with his relationship with his girlfriend.  As unbelievable as this all is – that someone, having just had their daughter raped and brutally murdered, would just get back into the groove of everyday life – I have always enjoyed this part of the Death Wish story.  I enjoyed watching Kersey doing his thing selling the client on his designs for their building.  And Charles Bronson, honestly, does just as well in these scenes as he does in his role as the cold-blooded vigilante.

It seems the Death Wish series had a habit of introducing us to up-and-coming actors of the time.  The first one had Jeff Goldblum and Denzel Washington and number two here has Laurence Fishburne in a relatively minor role.  He’s one of the main bad guys but he doesn’t do much more than cackle at all the nasty stuff they do.

It is interesting to note that the great Jimmy Page did all the music for the movie.  Unfortunately, other than the main theme, nothing really stood out while watching.

Death Wish II does a fairly good job continuing the story of Paul Kersey.  I’m sure it lost some fans of the first with the more action oriented tone but it also probably picked up some fans that found the original to be too slow moving.  I would personally rank this one slightly higher on my own personal list as I simply found it to be more entertaining, in general, than the first.  It’s pure exploitation revenge at its best.

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