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It's a hard crime story about a Philadelphia shop owner who has enough of the criminals' violences and ravages. He organizes a patrol of civil people. It all starts to go wrong because his team's actions are taken as racial discrimination ... Written by
Kornel Osvart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thieves, Pimps, Prostitutes, Muggers and Drug Dealers beware. John D'Angelo's out to make his neighbourhood safe. He's declaring his own personal war on crime and he doesn't want your kind around here any more.
Streets of Philadelphia The grim, early 80's vigilante edition
First of all I concur with all my fellow reviewers who can't seem to fathom that "Death Vengeance" is still so underrated, unknown and unavailable on DVD. This is a cult movie in the purest definition of the term, for crying out loud, with an acclaimed director and cast and a harshly realist subject that is applicable to all times and all big cities! Even more so, there were most vigilante thrillers all too easily revert to crowd-pleasing violence (Charlie Bronson's "Death Wish" being the best example of this), at least "Death Vengeance" attempts to remain more rational, with ordinary characters, dramatic sub plots, politically engaged and socially relevant. Tom Skerritt, in one of his best performances ever, stars as the Italian-American John D'Angelo who owns a deli shop in the roughest and most crime-infested neighborhood in Philadelphia. Following a couple of dramatic incidents where his wife lost their unborn baby and his mother her ring finger, John mobilizes his fellow petrified neighbors into founding the People's Neighbourhood Patrol. In a relatively short time, they free the park and streets around their houses of muggers, drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes and organized crime. Even though John's family life suffers under his obsession and he often has difficulties of drawing the line between what's legal and what's not, his achievements grow increasingly important. So important even, that the current mayor fears John to become an unbeatable rival in the next elections. "Death Vengeance" is a strong and compelling revenge/vigilante thriller with the emphasis on character development and grim atmosphere. The sequences where John D'Angelo confronts Ivanhoe Washington (a black volunteer who tries to keep petty criminals off the streets) are equally important as the sequences where the vigilantes battle hardcore thugs in the park. For the real die-hard fanatics of grisly early 80's cult cinema, "Death Vengeance" has quite a lot of brutal images to offer as well, like the drug store hold-up, but the violence never becomes gratuitous or overly exploitative. That alone is a remarkable accomplishment of director Lewis Teague ("Alligator", "Cujo"). The supportive cast is excellent as well, with Michael Sarrazin ("The Reincarnation of Peter Proud"), Yaphet Kotto ("Across 110th Street") and David "Sledge Hammer" Rasche! Is there an online petition anywhere to release this gem on DVD that I can sign?
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