• Death Wish 3 (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: September 16th, 2020.
    Director: Michael Winner
    Cast: Charles Bronson, Deborah Raffin, Ed Lauter, Martin Balsam
    Year: 1985
    Purchase From RoninFlix

    Death Wish 3 – Movie Review:

    As Michael Winner had directed Charles Bronson in the first two Death Wish films to great success it would go without saying that if Golan Globus, those legendary producers of some of the finest movies of the eighties, could team them up for a third and milk the franchise name for all it was worth they'd make it happen. And so they did just that. Bronson, with his career starting to head downhill at this point, begrudgingly agreed and this would prove to be his last team up with the accomplished English director.

    Death Wish 3 finds Paul Kersey back in New York City, this time to visit his old friend Charlie. But when Kersey arrives at Charlie's apartment he finds his friend laying on the floor dying, the victim of a sadistic gang of hoodlums who rule the area. The police show up shortly after Kersey arrives on the scene. They take him down to the station and lock him up, assuming he had something to do with the murder.

    After kicking the snot out of some of his fellow prisoners, Kersey is taken in to talk to the chief who recognizes him as the vigilante who had been operating in the city years ago. He decides to let him go, no questions asked, and to turn a blind eye to his special brand of justice if Kersey can help clean up the neighborhood. It seems that despite the fact that the police have upped patrols by fifteen percent that crime continues to escalate. The chief figures Kersey can have an impact on the gang that's responsible for the trouble in a way that the police cannot.

    Kersey heads back to the apartment where Charlie was murdered and takes up residence there. He befriends the seniors and immigrants that live in the building and strikes up a romance with the lovely public defense attorney (Deborah Raffin) who follows him around. But when one of Kersey's new friends dies from a brutal rape inflicted on her by the gang - and then his new girlfriend is blown up and killed!! - he takes off the kid gloves. It’s time to start using those guns that he's been building out of mail order parts to get his revenge against the no good punks who have gone way, way too far.

    Despite the fact that the movie is full of technical goof ups (raining outside in one shot, not raining the next shot, visible squibs, technical flaws in regards to the rocket launcher, etc.) Death Wish 3 is still a lot of fun. Cameo appearances by a pre-Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure Alex Winter, a blink and you'll miss it walk on by Barbie Wilde (the female Cenobite Hellraiser II – Hellbound), and a pre-Star Trek: The Next Generation appearance from Marina Sirtis make the movie interesting from a celebrity spotting stand point. Bronson once again does a fine job in the lead here, bringing the same qualities that made him perfect for the part in the first two films to this third entry. Supporting efforts from the likes of Ed Lauter and Martin Balsam certainly don’t hurt things at all. Balsam in particular steals a few scenes once he decides to help Kersey take out the neighborhood trash.

    But really, when it's all boiled down, the real star of the show (aside from Bronson, of course) is the unreal amount of violence that the filmmakers were able to cram into the last half hour of the movie. You’ll literally lose count of all the people who are shot, blown up, stabbed, beaten, pushed off of rooftops and just generally maimed during the film’s finale. The last sequence was so out of control that the film was actually hit with an X rating by the MPAA when it was first subjected to classification (though this was later successfully appealed). The storyline may basically amount to ‘Bronson teams up with other old people to shoot punks’ and not much more than that but when a movie goes as far over the top as this one does, you can’t help but love it.

    Death Wish 3 – Blu-ray Review:

    Death Wish 3 arrives on a 25GB region free Blu-ray disc from the Scorpion Releasing taken from a “new 2020 2K scan from the interpositive” taking up 23GBs of space on the disc. This new transfer improves over the old MGM Blu-ray release quite a bit, with noticeably better detail and depth present in the picture. Skin tones do occasionally look just a little pinker than maybe they should, but otherwise the color reproduction looks very good here, quite improved over the MGM disc, and the framing opens things up a bit more and shows a little more information on the top and bottom of the screen. Black levels are nice and deep, and contrast looks just fine. There are no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement, though some minor compression artifacts pop up in a couple of spots. Overall though, this looks very good!

    A quick comparison between the two discs, with the new Scorpion Blu-ray image up top and the old MGM Blu-ray image beneath it (click for full sized images):

    The only audio track on the disc is an English language 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo track. Optional English subtitles are included. The audio quality is fine, nice and clear and well-balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about, gunshots pack a nice wallop and the score sounds pretty decent, with some nice depth to it.

    The main extra on the disc is an exclusive audio commentary with Bronson biographer Paul Talbot. Talbot starts by talking about how this is the first Bronson movie to feature the famous Cannon Films logo before it, despite having made two pictures for them before this. He then goes on to give a history of the franchise and the book that it was based on, how Golan and Globus came to take over the series, what was shot in NYC versus what was shot in London, the different character actors that appear in the film of both British and American heritage, background info on Ed Lauter, differences between the script and the finished film, background details that are interesting such as the trophies in Lauder's office and information on Martin Balsam's life and career. He also covers the shooting schedules for both the British and American sides of the production, the use of dubbing in the film, the different firearms that are featured in the picture, Winner's directorial process, how the complex car chase sequence was filmed, details on some of the stuntmen that worked on the picture, the video game-esque feel of the climax and plenty more. Like all of Talbot’s tracks for Bronson-related pictures, it’s very in-depth and detailed, leaving no stone unturned and offering the listener a wealth of information in a very listenable style, occasionally with a good dose of humor thrown in as well.

    Scorpion has also provided a brand new interview with actor Kirk Taylor (The Giggler!) that runs just under nine-minutes in length. This interview covers how he got the opportunity to do the film after doing Streetwalking, how excited he was to work with Bronson, meeting Winner for the first time, having to get a passport and what it was like shooting in Brooklyn and London. He shares some thoughts on what it was like working with Winner, who he says didn't provide much direction and getting to do Full Metal Jacket after making this film. He also talks about what it was like acting alongside Bronson and meeting Jill Ireland who was on the set, his thoughts on 'The Giggler' and the characters status as an iconic villain, his death scene and a fair bit more. It’s interesting stuff and a nice look back from the actor’s perspective at the making of the film.

    Finishing off the extras is a trailer for the feature and bonus trailers for The Mechanic (as Killer Of Killers), Death Before Dishonor, The Delta Force and P.O.W. The Escape. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Death Wish 3 – The Final Word:

    The first Death Wish is a legitimately effective classic of skuzzy seventies cinema and the second film a worthy follow up. This third entry? It’s way more of a comic book film, but it works in its own completely ludicrous way. Bronson is solid in the lead, and while it’s got plot holes the size of a mountain, you can’t help but have a lot of fun with this movie. Scorpion’s Blu-ray reissue offers a nicely improved presentation and some very nice exclusive extra features as well. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Death Wish 3 Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      I wish you hadn't mentioned the pink skin tones; I found it really distracting and Bronson's cheeks were so pink at times that I was imagining him secretly filling his diaper. Ed Lauter and Martin Balsam also appear seriously flushed in this. I think I'm going to hang on to my MGM disc, just for the paler skin tones.