Monday, October 24, 2011

VHS Memories V: Bronson is on the loose!

One of the great movie tough guys was Charles Bronson.  Active in film for nearly fifty years, he amassed a ton of kick-ass movies...and some that were not so great.  Here's a cross-section of the good, the not so good, and the crappy.

Here's a neat little gem from 1977 as Chuck plays Wild Will Hickock who teams with a Native American to hunt down a mythical, gigantic white buffalo.  One of Bronson's many collaborations with director J. Lee Thompson, it is an interesting, entertaining western.

Bronson's last film for Cannon, this is a rather dull thriller in which he plays a journalist investigating murders in a small rural community.  A shockingly dull thriller, Bronson is more wooden than normal and at times seems to just not give a damn.  Can't say I blame him.

Better is this 1987 outing, a refreshing change of pace from the bog standard vigilante films Bronson was stuck doing at the time.  Here, he's a secret service agent protecting the First Lady, played by then-wife and frequent co-star Jill Ireland.  It's a fun romp though, like many Cannon films of the time, it gets a little dull and has a bad ending.  Still, it's worth checking out.

This formula cop movie gets bogged down in a meandering plot with annoying characters and a lack of good action.  Bronson phones it in and once again, I can't say I blame him.

Now for the last three Death Wish movies.  The first one is a gritty classic and the second is one of the sleaziest, most unpleasant cinematic experiences I have ever had the misfortune to have.  Granted, once you get past the first twenty minutes it's not that bad but who wants to watch a movie that way?

The most entertaining Death Wish sequel, this eschews the gritty downbeat mood of the first two in favor of an over the top comic book style with some bits of nastiness here and there.  It's a brisk, silly and tasteless 91 minutes that is bad it's hysterically funny.

I recapped this one for The Agony Booth and for some reason, it's my favorite of the sequels.  It's more fun than the second and third movies which tended to get a little too nasty and it also benefits from a hilarious turn from John P. Ryan.  It's not as funny a role as his part in Avenging Force but he's always fun to watch.  It's a fun romp that is one of the better late-era Cannon films.

The final installment in the series is pretty good, though Bronson is quite noticeably tired of the whole thing by this point.  It benefits from some nice kills and a good performance from Michael Parks as the bad guy.  Overall, it's a solid entry in the series and a nice finale.

This is a solid thriller with Bronson as a Russian agent out to stop a deranged Donald Pleasence.  Pleasence plans to activate several Russian sleeper agents in order to undermine security and it all ends up being a taught, tense ride that is well-directed by Don Siegel.  The best way to get this is to grab the DVD, you will not only get that but the superb St. Ives which I reviewed on this blog last year.

We end things this neat thriller, written by Elmore Leonard, my favorite author.  Bronson plays a watermelon farmer who runs afoul of a rather unhinged gangster and has to fight for his life.  It's classic Bronson, classic Elmore Leonard and overall one fantastic gem of seventies action.

That about wraps things up.  Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Nice write-ups! Death Wish 3 and 4 are a blast! The Telefon box art is pretty cool also.


About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.