Paul Kersey, the vigilante, now lives in LA with his daughter, who is still recovering from her attack. He also has a new woman in his life. One day while with them, Kersey is mugged by some punks and fights back, but they get away. The leader, wanting to get back at Kersey, goes to his house, but Kersey and his daughter Carol are not there. The muggers rape his housekeeper, and when Kersey and his daughter arrive, they knock him out and kidnap her. After they assault her, she leaps out of a window to her death. Kersey then grabs his gun and goes after them. When the LA authorities deduce they have a vigilante, they decide to consult with the New York police, who had their vigilante problem. Now the New York officials, knowing that Kersey lives in LA, fears that he's back to his old habit. Fearing that Kersey will reveal that they let him go instead of prosecuting him, the NYPD sends Inspector Ochoa to make sure that doesn't happen.Written by
Go, Tell It on the Mountain
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death wish, you wish, we all want a death wish...
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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