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Death Wish II
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Reviews & Ratings for
Death Wish II More at IMDbPro »

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57 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Mind-blowing masterpiece of sleaze

Author: fertilecelluloid from Mountains of Madness
14 January 2004

Be grateful for Michael Winner's sledgehammer sensitivity because it produced this classic.

None of Paul Kersey's (Charles Bronson) remaining family and friends get off lightly in this twisted nightmare of domestic violence, anal rape, vigilante justice and simplistic politics.

For fans of rough justice, the rape of Bronson's Mexican housemaid is truly amazing and eroticized like crazy by Winner's leering direction.

Thomas F. Duffy as Nirvana, the film's lead thug, is really horrible and a joy to behold (in a perverse way).

Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page provides a rock score that scorches the L.A. imagery and Vincent Gardenia returns as the cop who prefers to look the other way.

A Cannon-backed sleazefest that brings home the groceries if you like eating trash.

Screw GONE WITH THE WIND. This is much more entertaining.

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27 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

May cause a desire to take a shower (and that's the point)

8/10
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
15 August 2006

The second Death Wish film has a very strange concatenation of qualities. It can come dangerously close to running off the rails altogether, but overall, I think it's a more successful film than the first Death Wish.

The first peculiarity is that much more strongly than the first film, Death Wish II's urban crime-ridden backdrop is exaggerated to a point of caricature. Of course, there was plenty of crime in Los Angeles during this era, but not as depicted here. This is almost Broadway-style crime, with choreographed gaggles of hoodlums running out of control in designer gang-wear, making spectacles of themselves. It's over the top but serious in a way that feels uncomfortable at first, but then, that's just the point, and it helps anchor the plot developments that follow.

And that plot should be no surprise to anyone who first watches Death Wish I. Death Wish II follows the plot of its predecessor as if it were a fairly rigid template. Even the events that cause Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) to take charge and clean up society's scum by his lonesome are very similar. I don't see this as a flaw here (as I don't in many other sequels that use a template approach, including series like Friday the 13th). This is a direct continuation of the story of the first film, and the similarity gives Death Wish II both a natural, logical flow and a nice symmetrical structure.

Although Death Wish I had its brutal moments, Death Wish II amplifies that atmosphere and sustains it through its length. Like the films that best display gritty 1970s New York City--such as Taxi Driver (1976) and Basket Case (1982)--Death Wish II makes you feel almost dirty (in the grimy despair way, not a sexual way) while watching it. It's ironic, maybe, that Death Wish II does this so well when the setting is Los Angeles as opposed to actually being New York City, as in the first film. That director Michael Winner is able to perpetuate that atmosphere, whether by accident or design, results in the viewer being sucked into the setting and vicariously experiencing the range of unpleasant emotions felt by both the protagonists and the antagonists.

Also helping on that end is the score, provided by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. Although Winner sometimes incorporates Page's music in a discordant, jarring way--over the opening credits when it fights for volume with radio banter, for example--more often than not the score gives Death Wish II a sublime, otherworldly and eerie edge. It's too bad that Page didn't go on to score many more films.

This is certainly not a film to show during family time, and it's not particularly uplifting or overflowing with positive messages or socially redeeming values. But it's not trying to be any of those things. It's just a visceral (especially on an emotional level), disturbing revenge flick, and at that, it meets its goals well.

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34 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

"Do you believe in Jesus?"

10/10
Author: Renaldo Matlin from Oslo, Norway
27 September 2003

"Yes," says the crying thug, knowing his last breathing second on this planet has come. Bronson replies: "Now you'll get to meet him," and blows a hole in his chest! This scene found me laughing in disbelief, shocked and horrified over what the Paul Kersey-character has become, and at the same time impressed that somebody actually dared to make this stuff more than 20 years ago, and even starring one of the biggest movie-stars in the world!

This once bleedin' heart liberal family man has for sure turned into a messenger of death, with about as much mercy for the criminals as a hungry stray cat has for a limp mouse! It's shocking to watch, but at the same time fascinating because the whole movie looks great, the atmosphere gets under your skin, and you still find yourself rooting for Bronson's character.

This is still the best of the "Death Wish"-sequels, and it still packs a wallop and manages to stir controversy even today. It's a movie you will either like or hate, there is no middle road here, and it makes for a great conversation piece.

One final note: this movie sure is a reminder and evidence that when it came to movie tough-guys Charles Bronson WAS the baddest of them all. After the sad news of Bronson's passing a lot of people say he was second behind Clint Eastwood as far as action icons go. I'm a huge Eastwood-fan but Bronson still beats him any day. It really hit me as I was watching this movie. Bronson is driving through down-town Los Angeles, after brutally executing the thug in the above mentioned scene, he passes a movie-theater and sees a guy pretending to be a cowboy outside the theater, and what is the double-billing at the theater? Those silly comedies with Clint Eastwood and that big monkey Clyde!

That kinda' sums it up doesn't it?

Charles Bronson was THE MAN.

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25 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Pure Revenge

7/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
26 November 2005

Charles Bronson picks up where he left off in the famous "Death Wish" movie of 1976, going after punks and eliminating them. The only differences: he's moved from New York to Los Angeles and the violence is more graphic.

Despite the B-movie feel to this (produced by the kings of the cheapo movies of that era (70s and early 80s) : Golan/Globus, it still is very enjoyable and satisfying - if revenge is your thing. Here, Bronson revenges the death of his daughter. At least her death is quick and bloodless, unlike the unpleasant rape-and-murder scene in the first film.

Also, unlike the first film there is no need for a long setup. Bronson gets back in his vigilante mode in a hurry here and never lets up. If you want a short dose (an hour and a half) of action, this is your movie. One of the gang members in here, by the way, is a young Laurence Fishburne.

The negatives are (1) sub-par acting performances by Bronson and his real-life wife, Jill Ireland; (2) some blatant credibility problems with the story ( such as how Bronson could get across town all bloody but never be noticed;) and (3) not exactly the most intelligent dialog!

Yet, this is still an appealing movie to our conditioned satisfaction for instant revenge. So, if you've had a bad day and need a release of your hostilities, this is a good remedy!

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20 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

death wish, you wish, we all want a death wish...

6/10
Author: Jonny_Numb from Hellfudge, Pennsylvania
31 March 2005

The supposed correlation between violence/sexuality in art and violence in reality has been shoved to the forefront of our culture, especially in the past decade, when incidents such as the Columbine massacre confirmed politicians' fears of an unregulated entertainment industry in need of a spanking. In non-fanatical, everyday reality, however, I have come to disagree with the equation above. Some would argue that ugly, violent, nihilistic, and generally misanthropic films like "Death Wish" and its sequels do nothing but contribute to intensifying the more unsavory impulses that lay dormant in the viewer's id.

Yet therein lies the purpose of such rough-edged, unpleasant entertainment. It sparks the id, pummels it into submission, so that when the experience is over, a sigh of relief is uttered.

The original "Death Wish" was a well-done exploitation flick with the professional gloss of an A picture; despite its relatively shallow insight into the murky moral terrain of vigilante justice, it contained an intensely subdued performance by Charles Bronson, and confident direction by Michael Winner.

By comparison, "Death Wish 2" is a typical sequel, taking what the original had and dumbing it down to milk some cash for the franchise. In addition to Bronson (in the role of architect Paul Kersey), a few other characters return to provide at least a superficial connection to the original (Robin Sherwood as his daughter; Vincent Gardenia as the cop that uncovered his identity). The plot is as before: Paul Kersey has begun a new life (courting the cheerfully cardboard Jill Ireland) which is shattered when a gang of punks (including a young Laurence Fishburne) rape and murder his housekeeper and daughter. Unlike the original, no time is spent watching Kersey contemplate his actions; he simply goes to work, and in the process is rendered a stoic killing machine. The characterization/motivation for the punks is given even less thought--they exist for the sole purpose of showing how scummy the scummiest scum of society can be. The film moves from one random encounter to the next, wherein Kersey stumbles across gang members and kills them.

Of course this doesn't sound like highbrow film-making, but "Death Wish 2" never teases the audience with any notions of greatness. In spite of the meager attention given to Kersey's character, we root for him anyway; and in spite of the inexplicably-written punks, we hope for their demise. Michael Winner once again gives the film a gritty yet polished look, though he is clearly directing a flat-out B picture; the pacing is tight (the film runs just under 90 minutes), and the action is competently choreographed (though the romantic subplot provides a respite from the relentless violence, it is shallow and cloying). Jimmy Page's offbeat musical score only adds to the unusual charge this film packs.

In the best-case scenario, "Death Wish 2" is no masterpiece, but the perfect Novocaine to apply after a particularly rotten day. It will numb you into a state of apathy and wash your troubles away (that's a compliment).

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

He's Doing This...For You

8/10
Author: braindog from United States
24 February 2005

It's hard to believe that anyone who didn't like the first one wouldn't like this one. Bronson is back, this time avenging the death of his daughter and he's angrier than he's ever been. This one takes more of a action hero approach than the first one, but that's okay, you see, Bronson is a bad ass and that's all that matters. Movies like this aren't made to win best picture or best screenplay, they're made to be entertaining and filled with action, and that's what this is. Bronson has a great line he give to a punk just before he blows him away; he asks the punk if he believes in Jesus as the punk clutches a cross around his neck. The punk says "yes sir" so Bronson pauses and then tells him "you're going to meet him." Then he shoots him twice, it's great. Classic. I found no insight in this film, all I found was an awesome character who you can't get enough of that gets away with killing pieces of trash that rape, mug, and murder civilians. This formula is timeless, and the whole Death Wish series should be appreciated for proving so, because I'd watch one of these films before I watch any action film that may be produced today.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Not As Bad As Critics Say

7/10
Author: woljm45 from United States
9 March 2006

Of all the Death Wish sequels, this was the best. I think once they got to up part 3 with all the machine guns and rocket launchers, then it started to get a little stupid. The story almost has an identical plot outline as the first one and the action is just as good, if not, then even better. The shootout at San Pedro park was awesome!!! The only difference is that they make Paul Kersey have more emotional interaction with the creeps he kills which makes it seem to be more "Hollywood". In the first Death Wish, Kersey would just kill them stone cold without having a conversation. That's why the original was so good as so realistic.

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12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

World of depression, world of no hope

8/10
Author: mkw-5 from Finland
29 January 2006

I had to see this movie after I surfed on the IMDb and read some comments on this movie: It seemed like some meeting of psychoanalysts or something.

Well, where to begin... I must admit that this is an interesting movie "psychologically", but I don't think any five penny analysts could do anything to these sick people. Everybody is sick in this movie. It has the overall feeling of some really cheap low-life bar: The feeling of disappointment and failure in life. I would say it's the overall feeling of death; This movie feels like you would have just heard, that you have an incurable cancer. It's an interesting fact that Charles Bronson is, or at least has been, some kind of popular action hero: He looks like a disappointed- and tired-to-everything alcoholic. An interesting world-view and feeling. There is NO humor, joy or hope in this film; Not even before the bad guys come and "ruin it all". The bad guys names tell all: Nirvana, Stomper, Cutter, Punkcut, Jiver. They are the bad guys, and nothing else. They even smoke the "herb" and become psychotic and aggressive killer-madmen after that! I didn't know that that stuff makes that, but it's always good to learn. The bad guys first dance, chill out and have fun, and all of the sudden start to rape and kill people. (After that they forget about it.) It seems that the main character (Bronson) is a real psychopath, at least he fits perfectly of the description of one. I have to correct what I said before: Not everybody is totally sick in this movie; Just the ones that are involved in THE WAR. There is some (very few) good-looking pictures in this film; for example when the antihero walks in the streets at night. It's funny how he judges people that are unknown to him: For example when he sees somebody drinking alcohol, he looks at him with an expression of total repulsion on his face. Some police story also goes in the background, but it doesn't have much to do with the movie.

But after all, this film manages to represent some peoples (the filmmakers) very strong feelings, and evidently also the feelings of many viewers, and isn't that one of the main purposes of any piece of "art" or self-expression? Can you judge people for how they feel? If you want to see a really good movie of this genre (revenge-moral-story), I strongly recommend Tony Scott's "Man on Fire" (2004)(with Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke, Dakota Fanning). Peace.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Punks shouldn't enter Kersey's Matrix

7/10
Author: movieman_kev from United States
26 March 2005

Charles Bronson is back as Paul Kersey. After some punks (including a young Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne) get away with his wallet, they find his house. He's not home so they rape and kill the housekeeper. When Kersey and his daughter return, they knock him out and kidnap her. After raping her back at an abandoned warehouse, she jumps out the window, killing herself. Bronson being Bronson, it's time once again for revenge, while hiding it from his new girlfriend.Not as good as the original. As sequels rarely are. But I enjoyed it. Bronson as an actor just kicked so much ass.

My Grade: B

Eye Candy: Silvana Gallardo and Robin Sherwood show much flesh, but due to the subject matter, it's not really eye candy. Leslie Graves and Melody Santangello's topless scenes are more palatable.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Lady, you scream and disturb the neighbors, we'll cut you into little pieces and eat you for dinner!

6/10
Author: Ben Larson from Leesburg, FL
27 July 2012

Well, we don't get the great Herbie Hancock score of the first movie, but we do get Jill Ireland, Mrs. Bronson, in one of her last films, directed as Death Wish I and III, by Michael Winner.

We also get what I feel is the biggest collection of scumbags ever assembled. Thomas F. Duffy as Nirvana, Kevyn Major Howard as Stomper, Stuart K. Robinson as Jiver, Laurence Fishburne as Cutter, and E. Lamont Johnson as Punkut. It was fitting that the first kill occurred in a rat- infested building, and the last was an electrocution.

Vincent Gardenia is back to track down Kersey after he starts again in Los Angeles.

Unlike the serious and tragic first film, this is more focused and revenge-oriented. A good film, nonetheless.

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