B-Movie Night: Death Wish 3

This film features product placement by a gun company. That tells you all you need to know about its tone and intent. For the first quarter of the movie, Charles Bronson keeps going on about how he’s waiting for his friend Wildey to turn up. When Wildey does arrive, it’s revealed that ‘he’ is a rather ugly pistol. Bronson quickly fulfils his contractual obligations by explaining to awed onlookers that the gun takes cut down rifle cartridges and has some sort of compensator device which can be adjusted depending upon the power of the load. Wildey then proceeds to kill loads of street punks.

With everyone he cared about dead or alienated at the end of Death Wish 2, Paul Kersey decided to take a vigilante bus tour of the USA- like the Littlest Hobo, but with violent retribution. Finally returning to New York, he brings the Curse of Kersey with him- the old army pal he’s visiting is beaten by a gang at the exact moment that Kersey phones him. The old codger manages to hold on until Paul has made a mad taxi dash across town, then expires almost immediately he gets there.

Arrested on suspicion of the murder- and giving the name Kimble- Kersey is given an ultimatum by the Chief of Police. He can bring his sidewalk vigilante act back to the Big Apple so long as the cops get to look more effective than they really are as a result. Kersey returns to the warzone that is East New York and sets to work.

It’s particularly dangerous to be a woman when Paul Kersey’s in town. One of his new neighbours starts helping out with his street patrols- so the gang targets his wife to be so brutally raped that she dies of her wounds. A public defender takes an interest in ‘Kimble’ and makes the terminal error of sleeping with him. She ends up dying in an automotive fireball. A local shopkeeper is emboldened by Kersey’s actions- so the gang’s leader slices his wife’s throat.

The men in Kersey’s shadow don’t suffer as much. The battered old veteran who supplies a cupboard full of guns is beaten up and thrown off a fire escape, but he lives and is back on his feet in days even after suffering multiple broken bones. The Curse of Kersey is far worse if you’re a woman.

It all ends with a massive fire fight, leaving dozens- maybe even hundreds- dead and razing even more of the blighted neighbourhood. In amongst all the smoke and blood, Kersey just picks up his suitcases and wanders off, not really giving a toss that he’s destroyed more innocent lives and legitimate businesses in a couple of weeks than the drugged up scum he was killing could ever have hoped to.

A decade had passed between the first Death Wish and its second sequel, and a lot of blood had flowed into the gutter. Michael Winner must have moved with the times, making this a dumb action movie with a nod to the reactionary glorification of street law from the first two. It’s still Charles Bronson killing hipsters, though, so it’s fun if you ignore its attempts to say something nasty about the state of the States in the eighties.

You can buy Death Wish 3 from Amazon.