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Murphy's Law (1986)

An action-packed thriller starring Charles Bronson as Jack Murphy, a cop who is running to stay alive long enough to even the score with his wife's killer.


J. Lee Thompson

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Bronson ... Jack Murphy
Kathleen Wilhoite ... Arabella McGee
Carrie Snodgress ... Joan Freeman
Robert F. Lyons ... Art Penney
Richard Romanus ... Frank Vincenzo
Angel Tompkins ... Jan
Bill Henderson ... Ben Wilcove
James Luisi ... Ed Reineke
Clifford A. Pellow Clifford A. Pellow ... Lieutenant Nachman
Janet MacLachlan ... Dr. Lovell
Lawrence Tierney ... Cameron
Jerome Thor Jerome Thor ... Judge Kellerman
Mischa Hausserman Mischa Hausserman ... Dave Manzarek
Cal Haynes Cal Haynes ... Reese
Hans Howes ... Santana


Charles Bronson plays Jack Murphy a veteran police detective who is framed for the murder of his ex-wife. Although taken into custody, Murphy escapes from the police station handcuffed to a foul-mouthed car thief. Pursued by the police, Murphy must find the real killer before it is too late. Written by Michael A Kortt <mkortt@metz.une.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They set him up. He takes them down. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:






Release Date:

18 April 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La ley de Murphy See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,388,907, 20 April 1986, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


If you look at the lobby of the Sunset hotel it is very similar to the one where Bullitt goes to track down the killers. See more »


When Jack faints while handcuffed to Arabella in the log cabin, he lays flat on a rug. When Arabella starts to pull him towards the dresser in the room, to get the 'pick' he's not on a rug. See more »


Jack Murphy: The only law I know is Jack Murphy's Law. That's very simple. Don't fuck with Jack Murphy. You remember that.
Arabella McGee: [Arabella is handcuffed to Jack] You snot-licking donkey fart.
Jack Murphy: ...
Arabella McGee: What'ya do... rape a nun?
Jack Murphy: ...
Arabella McGee: Kiss my panty hose, sperm bank.
Jack Murphy: ...
Arabella McGee: Why don't you watch your asshole, asshole.
Jack Murphy: ...
Arabella McGee: Hey, pubic hair, I'm talking to you!
See more »


References Airwolf (1984) See more »


Murphy's Law
Written and Performed by Paul McCallum, Kathleen Wilhoite and John Bisharat
See more »

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User Reviews

When you just can't take a break.
28 August 2007 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

Life for police detective Jack Murphy is the pits, especially after his wife left him and has become a stripper. He hit's the bottle, and gets into scuffles with his fellow officers. Things get worse when he's suddenly framed for his wife and lover's murder, and he's arrested. He gets handcuffed to the dirty-mouthed street thief he caught earlier. By chance they both manage to escape and Murphy goes after the real killer, to only find out he's the one being preyed upon by the mafia and psychotic murderer.

This tough guy image really works for Charles Bronson, and makes any standard revenge story compelling. In it's defence, this Bronson vehicle (produced by Cannon) might be routine, but Gail Morgan Hickman's above average screenplay has plenty going on and throws our way a few effective surprises. The strategic story is grounded by its hard as nails approach, where the sombre and seedy urban atmosphere can be a brutal smack in the guts. Even the humour has that dark touch, but what did get tiresome was the constant potty-language and banter erupting from Kathleen Wilhoite's explosively charming character. Did it grate! The compulsively uneven, but hard-bitten script keeps on the move and can draw tension, but never goes in to much depth of the characters and situations. What begins interestingly enough, changes course for a buddy story with awkward attempts of humour and nastiness. In parts it kinda reminded me of Eastwood's superior action film "The Gauntlet (1977)".

J. Lee Thompson's efficient direction is sharply observed and packs grittiness, but really lacked the avid jolts. The professional camera work visually gets amongst the dirt, but can provide some airy scope. The crisp sounding music score is very well balanced. A weary looking Bronson might look like he's slumming it in, but his low-scale turn works accordingly and keeps you hanging on. Kathleen Wilhoite's lively chemistry with Bronson wasn't bad. Carrie Snodgress neatly goes about her psychotic part with utter coldness and Richard Romanus is perfectly cast as a seamy mobster. Look out for an amusing cameo role by Lawrence Tierney.

Roughly engaging and mildly humorous revenge b-film.

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