Death Wish : Another Beginning
What the actual eff.
No, I mean it. While I was doing research on this series I happened across a mention of a film titled “Death Wish : Another Beginning” with a beautiful cover and a VERY vague description that tenuiously links it to the Death Wish series.
“WORLD PREMIERE on DVD
THE MAKER OF DEATHWISH 5 IS BACK
Allan A. Goldstein presents a MARC VORLANDER FILM
Experience the world of director Marc Vorlander for the first time.
Immerse yourself in a bizarre world of arthouse, action and provocation.
No movie is like this !!!”
I couldn’t find this thing anywhere. After more searching (and more expense that I want to admit) I managed to get a copy shipped to me from Germany. I grabbed my region free player and fired it up.
I don’t understand what this thing is.
It starts off with an interview with Allan Golstein who is indeed the producer of the classic films. He chats about the death wish movies for a bit and then we move into what passes for a story. We get a few shot-on-video segments of sorta actors pretending to be cops looking for the Vigilante and a girl who claims (in the last scenes) to be his daughter. (Don’t read too much into that description. It’s more detailed than the actual segments). These skits, sloppily shot with production values lower than the sketchiest porn videos, serve as bookends for long music video presentations that have little or nothing to do with the narrative.
This thing is garbage. Don’t let the slick looking packaging fool you – this video is worse than amateur quality. My best guess is that it was done to be a promotional vehicle to the band who’s CD is included (as a bonus! Ugh.). It’s got nothing to do with the Death Wish series and I have to wonder if Goldman is even aware of it.
The DVD appears to only have been released in Germany and perhaps a few European backwaters. Feel free to avoid it. If you’re desperate to see it, contact me. I’ll give you a copy. I plan on pirating the crap out of this trash.
I know it’s not strictly a death wish film – but Death Game actually has a right to be included in the series as this film did start off life as Death Wish six; the new vigilante . I’m not sure how much of the DNA from that script that remains, I can’t find anything else out about it… But, after Canon folded, Mannerheim rolled Death Wish six into this. The movie starts out with the “new Canon” logo. New Canon? What the actual heck?
The credits are annoyingly captured freeze frames and have a basketball game which set up the team star player being quoted by the mob. The coach tries to intervene in the players personal life and gets beaten up for his troubles. Interestingly enough, the Masters house appears to be the same one used in deathwish5 . If it’s not, as exterior sure you look the same. Inside, Billy Dragos it’s on the throne of swords, long before Game of thrones was created. He meets with yours and Ryan resemble more closely at the Doug Koller death which movies then the masters of the later ones.
That has finally arrived at the coaches house wearing nylon masks – the least effective nylon mask at that! Still have this weird hybrid mobster in the street… they’re after the coaches kit, but luckily the most precious pug ever is protecting him and all they manage to do is murder the dog.
It is just a shot across the bow go as we find ourselves in more familiar death wish territory with an assault on the wife about halfway through the film. It’s an ugly one and the catalyst to buy and reset the coach off on his vengeful killing spree. Kind of any help, he’s really only going after Billy Drago and his guns – and those mobsters shoot like storm troopers… Automatic weapons that can’t hit a thing! It culminates in to do that at the end and is basketball and 18 like slo-mo game win. At the end of the day, it’s half deathwish and it’s easy to see why this didn’t go anywhere.
Death Sentence : The Novel
So I mentioned last month that the Death Wish franchise is actually based off of books. Death Sentence is the second book in the series, but because we just looked at the movie of the same name, it’s fresh on our minds. The name is of course, pretty much where the similarities end.
Written by Brian Garfield, the author of the original Death Wish book. He was unhappy with the way the original movie ended, so he wrote his own sequel a year later. In many ways, it seems like he’s trying to work out his own second amendment issues in these novels and more than once, you get a whiff of cognitive dissonance here.
While technically a follow up to the novel, in many ways it reads a spin-off to the film. In either way, it’s well done. This feels less like a sequel and more like a second chapter, or third act. Indeed, it almost immediately feels like what I always expected a Death Wish story to be.
After the events in New York, Paul has moved to Chicago, but it hasn’t stopped his vigilante urges. Both the cops and the criminal element soon notice that the Vigilante has moved and the manhunt begins. Along the way, Paul falls in love again but soon realizes he must choose between being the vigilante or having a life with this woman. And even while the street crime rate drops, things are complicated further when copycat killers begin to emerge.
This is a fascinating read, with greater detail about the Vigilatne’s methods. We explore how he acquires guns, hides then and stalks. We get greater insight to the politics in the police department and how they want to handle it, and in general, both pro and anti gun sentiments are handled well (though Garfield makes his leanings clear).
It’s a harder book to find these days. Death Wish was reprinted in time for the remake, but this book didn’t get the same treatment (I managed to snag a kindle version using a gift card from a costume contest last year). It’s actually the superior of the two Death Wish Novels and worth hunting down.
I bet you didn’t know that James Wan directed a Death Wish film did you?
Actually, that takes some explaining.
You see, there’s actually a sequel to the Death Wish book. The author, Brian Garfield, wasn’t entirely happy with the way the film turned out and wrote Death Sentance to rebut it and continue Paul’s story himself. 32 years later, there’s a film adaption (I know. I don’t get it either).
This is actually a pretty impressive cast. I mean Kevin Bacon is fine, and James Wan is always the mark of quality. Fun to see Aiesha Taylor from Who’s Line (Although, Man does she look a lot different than usual! That severe pullback hair doo…)but you show me John Goodman I am on board! Goodman is brilliant by the way, as the gang mentor – it’s a bizarre performance and totally unlike anything else I’ve seen him do before. I am consistently in awe of this man’s range.
Interesting, for the first time the main characters is accountant (Which was Paul’s profession in the novel, not architect) though he still hasn’t got the same name from the book.
We’re well into the movie when we get to our tragedy. Using the old flashing-headlights-initiation-killing urban legend is a really interesting way of updating for the 21 st century. I’m glad that we are going up against street thugs once again. After a few films of the vigilante going out to the mafia, I like that we’re going back to basics. Death Sentance has created a street gang with all the charisma and distinctive look from the first Death Wish films, well making them distinctly modern.
What’s interesting is Kevin Bacon succeeds everywhere that Bruce Willis failed for me. I completely buy his internal conflict, how difficult it is for him to begin his revenge. I totally accept his reluctance and clumsiness with his weapon (indeed, the early kills are almost accidental) and it makes sense because this is a revenge drama and not an action like the 2018 Death Wish was. It’s important to remember this because it doesn’t move fast like an action film does, or like a Death Wish film does. There is a great deal more attention paid to the family dynamics – with the family member who has been killed, and Bacon really sells it in one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from him. When we had a home invasion, I’d swear we’re at the end of the third act when in actuality it’s only the second and the third act is just beginning.
It’s that last 30 minutes, and I kind of wish that it had come earlier. But come back to the original premise – this really isn’t a action movie, it’s a revenge drama. Sure there are some action elements, but that’s not the thrust of the film.
It’s worth waiting for though, very much worthy of the Death Wish legacy. By the way, fans of The Crow are going to notice A great deal of influence from that here too. Someone needs to get James Wan on that reboot Because this film convinces me he’s the man for that job.
There is a greater sense of finality in this film, something that I never truly feel from the Death Wish movies. That may actually make it the most fitting way to end this marathon. I’m glad I saw it, I’m glad I saw all of them. It was long overdue.
Aw crap. What do you mean I didn’t see ALL of them? and why are you speaking in German? (*sigh* We’ll be back with more)
Death Wish : The Novel
Did anyone else here realize that the original Charles Bronson film was based off a novel? I sure didn’t. But the good news is that the release of the remake has also led to the novel getting reprinted in hardcover, and that makes it mercifully simple to find. Not so much with it’s sequel “Death Sentence”, but I’m working on that one.
I was surprised as to how much of the basic plot from the Death Wish novel made it into the film. It’s in many ways the same story, so what I really want to highlight are the differences.
We see a great deal more of the son-in-law in the book. He’s a bit of a weasel but he’s there to serve as a sounding board. He embodies the liberal archetype this book sets as the standard, even as Paul swings ever so slightly to the right. The assault on the wife and daughter are never described in detail. The film is far more lurid in it’s portrayal – the book goes out of it’s way to insist there was no rape. I kind of appreciate that. Still, we get a LOT more of Paul’s inner monologue as he begins his descent into violence. His violence is more random, and there’s just as much of it as we see in the movie. The ending is very different. Unresolved but very interesting.
Reading this, I can see where the film gets it’s social messaging from. It’s very heavy handed here, and while the film seems balanced, the author of the novel has definitely chosen a side on the left wing – which is odd because his hero is on the opposite end of his philosophy, causing an interesting cognitive dissonance.
Like the film, it moves slow. Most of the book is about getting over the tragedy of Paul losing his wife and daughter, and the madness of feeling alone. It absolutely draws you in and compels you. By the time we hit that last quarter of the novel where the shooting starts, it feels almost like we’ve got a completely different book in our hands.
I’m conflicted as to what is superior – the film or the book. The intellectual and literary snob in me wants to say the book, and yet the film is comfort food – not only is it familiar, there’s things it just does better. Do yourself a favor and check both the original film and this novel out from the Library so you can compare and contrast for yourself.
Death Wish 2018
I think the problem is Bruce Willis. I love Bruce Willis. He’s a tough guy and a great action star… and I’m not sure that’s what this film really requires. Stay with me on this.
This is an interesting new take on the whole Death Wish series. I’m glad they went with a diffrent profession (doctor instead of an Architect) and that they went with a very up-to-date look. On paper, Willis looks perfect for this role. He’s every bit the action star that Charles Bronson was and he’s about as long in tooth as we remember Bronson being – especially in the late series sequels. But Bronson had a quiet toughness. He could sit in a living room or work on a drawing and be at ease. Bruce Willis oozes tough guy in all his movements. I have a hard time buying those action star fists as the healing hands of a doctor. I have a hard time buying the clumsiness with a gun, or the reluctance to use it.
Don’t get me wrong, when we get into the later confident action sequences, he’s in perfect form. It’s just a haul trying to get him there. I admit I kind of dig the way the hoodie has replaced that knit thermal hat Bronson wore in two.
It’s funny, I would have expected a lot more grit and grain here. Eli Roth is a grindhouse aficionado and I was really expecting an exploitation movie. I suppose that’s a much more difficult proposition in 2018. This is a slickly packaged almost- revenge/action film. We (thankfully) lack the rape and the death of the wife seems less brutal. Roth does manage to stick in some gore though – a few messy set pieces that are more extreme than you would normally find in an action film. I’m grateful for that though I wish we’d see a little more kinetic over-the-top action.
All in all, it’s not a bad film. It’s definitely a remake of the film and feels like it has less than ever to do with the original novel. It’s probably as good as any of the late series sequels and I would hope that it’ll drum up some interest in classic Bronson. Besides, you can’t tell me it isn’t pretty cool to see the nod to the original in the way this ends!
Death Wish V : The Face of Death
Man, that’s some ominous music – and there is no Canon logo here. None of this bodes well.
I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t even know this one existed. And with this kind beginning, it’s very different tone. I’m a little perplexed at what Bronson’s doing at a fashion show… It doesn’t quite read correctly. Still it’s a very 90s sort of intro and look.
Bronson is finally beginning to show his age as well. While in previous films he could pass for 40, in this one he is looking every bit of man in his late 60s and early 70s. It’s a problem, and one that I would usually dismiss… but the truth is the lines on his face are so deep that just a can of hair dye wouldn’t have been enough to make him look younger. The fact that he issurrounded by much younger actors brings their problem into even sharper focus.
Of course Bronson should know better than to ever propose to anyone because it means she is immediately going to be assaulted – though to be fair he probably couldn’t have foreseen her getting her face smashed into a mirror by a transvestite in the ladies room. Like I said, things feel different this time – even that moment where he snaps the chamber back into his vigilante gun, it’s framed differently, almost heroically. Indeed, when I saw the way they were lighting both the previous and following scenes with that dramatic blue lighting – I knew I was in a comic book.
The lawyers, headed by Saul Rubinek, are practically cartoons and the mafiosos are standard issue bad guys with big guns and lots of bullets. Also, don’t forget the obvious stunt men in bad wigs. Hint if the stunt man has his full face on display, you don’t want to show the stunt in slow motion!
Despite all this, it’s the best looking of all the Death Wish films. It’s nicely shot, on great looking sets. A bit of a drag now that Bronson doesn’t start killing people until literally the halfway point of the film. In fact, for an action film it’s actually quite slow. And then, once Bronson finally starts taking the law into his own hands, he’s not shooting! He is using new and innovative ways of dispatching his enemies but that’s not what the deathwish films are all about is it? Acorrding to Brnson’s Loose, he’d begun to tire of the same old thing and really wanted more interesting kills and found a director who agreed with him. It’s weird, even when he does use a gun, it’s not a gunshot that usually kills the bad guy – they fall into a vat of acid or ground up or some other ridiculous whammy. All around it’s just a very different kind of action from what we’ve seen in this series, and I can’t help but wonder if this didn’t contribute to it being a box office failure.
There’s more to it than that of course, this movie was released in 1994, after the death of the over-the-top action film (in my opinion, the last action hero signals the end of that era – and that film was released in 1993). Indeed, Stallone and Schwarzenegger were both trying their hands at comedies, seeing the decline of the action genre. This, combined with a Bronson that genuinely looks too old for the role, then budget, and practically no publicity (I don’t remember seeing a single commercial for this movie – and in 1994 I would have been just old enough to go see it by myself), it’s no wonder the film sunk. It’s not a bad movie in of itself, but it’s an odd sequel and definite direct to video fodder.
So, that wraps up the Deathwish series doesn’t it?
Wait, what do you mean there’s one more film?
Death Wish 1975
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.
Death Wish introduction
I remember catching a lot of these on UHF channel 43 during a lot of nights when I was about jr. high age. My reaction was “It’s the Punisher!”. Maybe the Punisher in plainclothes. The 70’s look probably turned me off a bit and I wasn’t completely sold on Bronson as an action star (Give me a break. I was a kid). I remember kind of liking them, but not being particularly obsessed.
Because I remember them fondly, but not fervently, I wasn’t bothered when the remake was announced. Quite frankly, it’s been a LONG time since we had any Death Wish. Bronson is dead and these were never high art to begin with. Being one step above the grindhouse fare, Eli Roth sounded like a good choice and all around it seems like it’s time for me to dive into this series again, moreover it’s time for me to exlore the source material. I’m interested in what I’ll find and I think I’ll start off with the remake so I can go in unbiased. See you soon!