Death Kiss may have flickered on my radar a year ago but I forgot all about it and didn’t really notice it until I was pretty much done with this series. Death Kiss is a homage to the Bronson films of the 70’s, particularity the Death Wish films, and features a gimmick like no other. A lookalike, standing in for Bronson.
The film opens with a very young looking Charles Bronson (younger now than he looked in most of the the Death Wish films, three and on) emerging out of the dark to patronize a pimp. He’s trafficking in underage girls and our Bronson lookalike takes him down with a quick pistol whipping. The blood flies quickly – and I note that it’s bloodier than what we used to see in the dearth wish films actually.
The Bronson lookalike is convincing until he opens his mouth and speaks to the dubbed dialogue. I almost wonder if they would’ve been better off just using the actual actor’s normal voice – even if it’s nothing like Bronson. After all we know that’s not actually Chuck walking on the screen. The look sometimes feels out of lace as well. While I’m sure his wardrobe was meant to be fashion neutral, it’s all comes off as kind of vintage in a movie where all the other characters, settings, filters and cinematography are extremely 2018.
It’s honestly exactly the sort of film somebody would make if they were trying to make something LIKE a Death Wish film. It’s way closer than that awful “A Daughters Revenge” film I talked about last week. It hits all the right elements – street gangs, big guns, it even attempt social commentary using Daniel Baldwin as a radio announcer (And I wonder how much of this was inspired by the media segments in the Death Wish remake) to deliver its anti-crime message. But it’s also ham fisted, and the filmmakers fail to capture the heart of the Bronson films.
It sounds like I’m down on this film, and I’m not necessarily… I’m down on what this film wanted to be. It’s a novelty piece rather than a fun low-budget action film. For a micro budget flick like this, the action and violence are really well done – it’s fun, there’s even some nostalgia seeing a young Bronson here, But it’s melancholy, because the lookalike, who’s trying his hardest, isn’t the talent Charles Bronson actually was. Bronson was a man with range and acting chops. This guy fires guns really well, but his overdubbed dialogue fails to move me.
This is a cool movie. Catch it where you can. Hopefully as a rental – I’m not convinced it’s worth the cost of the Blu-ray or iTunes download, but it is definitely worth seeing.
Somehow, right from the start, this feels like a Canon film. I don’t know if it’s the low angle, or the leather jacket on Bronson, but this movie definitely want’s you to know exactly what kind of film it is as Bronson guns down three men attacking a helpless woman.
Somehow Paul Kersey has a new family here – and let’s be honest. It’s only ten minuets in and I already know this is going to end badly for them. Sure enough, not even five minuets later the daughter is dead.
Because it’s the end of the 80’s and we’re firmly in formula mode now, this becomes “The Vigilante vs. Drug Dealers”! I kind of liked it better when the bad guys were leather clad punks, but any port in a storm. Bonus points for one of the dealers being Star Trek Voyager’s Tim Russ, not to mention that Danny Trejo’s in this thing as well (two more guys I’ve met over the years!).
It feels like the Punisher more than ever to me. The idea of the Vigilante being hired by a rich patron to wipe out the criminal element. It’s very reminiscent of the Punisher’s “Circle of Blood” storyline. Thre’s stalking, sneaking around and false names. The similarity is only enhanced by the fact that this time around, the Vigilante is going after the mob.
Its interesting to see the police investigation back and trying to find the Vigilante. Even the Architecture background of Paul Kersey is given some lip service, though his identity is still very much more wrapped up in being the vigilante than being an artist.
I can’t help but notice that jokes are starting to get attached to increasingly outrageous kills. “I wish he’d just drop dead!” as a gangster plummets from his apartment building window and plows into a windshield.
It’s one of the more interesting sequels though because just when you think it’s over, there’s a double cross twist waiting to spring. It’s a nice bit of innovation to keep the series fresh. In fact, it’s really got my interest up for the next one.
Ah old Canon films. That familiar logo and the sign of quality as we roll into a gray New York on the bus and finally settle in an abandoned slum inhabited by leather clad punks. Man, it’s about as 80’s as you can get. Also, what is Bill from Bill and Ted’s Excellent adventure doing beating up old men for protection money?
It’s a different kind of start, with the police on Bronson’s case immediately, falsely arresting him and treating us to a jail scene in the first act where he battles an articulate punk that resembles the Kergan from Highlander.
Once Bronson has the blessing of the cops, it’s time to get things started. This film in articular feels more formulaic. We have drug pushing street punks. We know as soon as a girlfriend shows up, she’s going to die. We have an older male mentor. We have revenge for a bit player. A heretofore never-mentioned “old friend” murdered in the first five minuets. It’s all very convenient and formula driven, right up to the swelling music as Bronson looks over his dead friends war medals. The F bombs have increased too.
Seriously though. I’m having a difficult time taking Alex Winter seriously as he tries to be hard.
One of the things this film really gives us though, is a true villian. In previous films, the violence has been more random, and the gangsters scattered; on the run. This time with Tony Spiridakis, we have a villian – a face to the gang. It makes sense too, because t here’s less for us to explre with Paul Kersey in this one. Here, his identity is entirely “The Vigilante”. We’re not even hiding it anymore. There’s no Architect here. There’s no police investigation or mystery, this is The Vilgilante vs. the gangs and that’s it. Automatic weapons and big guns are the order of the day and the body count is at it’s highest.
A couple other notable bit players here. I spotted Ricco Ross. He”s one of these guys I see popping up from time to time – one of the grunts in Aliens, a cop in Wishmaster, and a gangster here. Barbie Wilde (the female cenobite from Hellraiser 2) is in here too. It’s during her punk days and I can’t imagine that look was much of a stretch! Finally, Marina Sirtis from Star Trek the Next Generation shows up as well. She has frizzy hair, a meek personality and is pretty much just a walking prop in this film but it’s an interesting curiosity. Fun fact. I’ve met all three of these people.
Because we’re firmly in the action formula, it’s the biggest, most explosive finale yet and by the end, Bronson’s not alone. Even the citizens of the slum are getting in on the act as the graffitied up neighborhood turns into a war zone.
It leads me to wonder…where do we go from here?
It’s a quick and efficient recap that gets us directly into the film and moves us to this installments atrocity. Paul Kersey is the most unlucky man ever with the same kind of assault happening to his housekeeper in Chicago that happened in New York. After his daughter is kidnapped and dies, the decent into violence is swift, and it almost feels like we race through the first act.
It feels good though. We see him prep and there’s the hat….that knit cap I was completely missing in the first film. It’s a new city and a different gun, but Bronson slips back into the role of vigilante easily and it fits him like a glove.
Hang on. Is that Lawrence Fishbourne??? OMG it is! The pink sunglasses threw me off. (And I remember that mayor or commissioner guy from an episode of the Twilight zone) I mean there’s been volumes written about Jeff Goldbulm in the first one, but I don’t think I actually knew about Fishbourne in this one! It’s very strange to see him dance. It’s also strange to see his brains come out his nose when he gets shot in the face.
I was surprised to see Vincent Gardenia as the cop from the last film show up here (even more surprised to see him buy it in the beginning of the third act). It didn’t seem like the sort of sequel that really requires all of the old cast show up for an encore – after all, it’s a diffrent actress playing the daughter and no other alumni show up.
At times, LA feels like the wrong setting for this. Not as grimy as New York. Even when they find sufficiently seedy areas for action, it’s slicker than I remember with bigger guns and smoother action. Indeed, it makes for almost a textbook sequel. Bigger and louder than the first. More action, more bullets and everything I could ask from a Death Wish film.
Except he asks the girlfriend to marry him at the end. What’s he doing? He just signed that poor woman’s death warrant! Run Jill Ireland! RUN!
Even at the beginning, I get that familiar feeling of the Punisher in plainclothes. Bronson sells it well, but it’s really Bronson that I want to focus on.
As a kid watching these movies, I never realized that Bronson had such range. This is more than a gun toting action star (though he’s that too). He’s able to sell concern and grief. He’s able to convey a complete attitude change after he begins the killing spree.
Holy crap. Bronson’s a GOOD actor!
The politics of the film were lost on me at an early age. It’s more than just a Bernie Goetz rip off (Under thirty fives may have to look that one up). There’s an honest, balanced discussion going on here about guns and crime (Taking a cue fro the book). I think either side could see themselves represented here…indeed it may even be more balanced than the novel. Someone was trying to do more than just create an exploitation film here (But it is that too). It makes the remake feel a little vapid and empty. Then again, that might be an unfair comparison. I really want to see how everything holds up to the late series sequels.
I have to wonder if it’s worthy of being the sacred cow some people elevate it as. It’s a good movie, but not great cinema. I think it may have found it’s best destiny in reruns on late night television, and honestly….I wish it’d make a return to those screens.
Love and bullets starts off with beautiful vistas stunning landscapes and sweet music that makes it feel like a lifetime film. I’m not sure what to think of that, and Switzerland seems an odd setting for Charles Bronson movie, fortunately we switch right towards Charles Bronson going in to look at corpse and I think we’re back on track.
Love and bullets is really the epitome of Charles Bronson film. He’s playing a cop he’s using guns and protecting a gangsters moll from the assassins that the gangsters sent after her to keep her from testifying. Bronson is very much playing Bronson and looks extremely good at 57 years of age here.
When the blonde bombshell is forced to remove her wig and make-up it really is a stunning difference. We sometimes forget just how big a difference that makes in an image, and how manufactured so many of actresses are. Her line when presenting herself to Charles Bronson is priceless “Yeah I should’ve known you’d like this. you’re used to looking at dead people.”
The film is very Bronson and very 70s. It reminds me a lot of the kind of movies they used toplay late at night on channel 43. Perfect thing to watch while you’re doing something else.