That's right, it's a slow blog week at Stately Fish & Spaghetti Manor, so we decided to dust off some older bits. And by "we decided to dust off some older bits" what I mean is "I arbitrarily opted to perform CPR on our lagging love for the Death Wish franchise."
Admit it; even you didn't see this one coming.
Out of all of the Death Wish flicks, this one might be my favorite. I like it because it works on a couple of levels. It works as a straight up sequel, but also works as a satire of the whole "vigilante" genre. Now that's what I call a "two-fer."
The story is pretty basic. Paul Kersey goes back to New York to see an old friend. Unfortunately when Paul arrives his friend has already been mortally wounded by a street gang and dies in his arms. Through some convoluted happenstance Paul ends up on a gang leader's bad side. Oh, wait, I forgot to mention the by the book cop who knows Kersey's reputation and doesn't care for it.
Once all of that perfunctory set up is out of the way things sort of get fun. First up, by this point Paul's a season veteran of street cleaning and despite their numbers and firepower, the gang is outmatched. Paul moves into his old buddy's apartment building and begins to set traps for the marauding criminals.
Kersey practically takes delight in saving the day. Seriously. I defy you to explain away the twinkle in his eye as he finds a criminal's teeth (in a booby trap that he set) as anything other joy. And there's nearly a subplot of Wildey. Kersey sends for it, waits for it and finally uses it.
As is par for the course in a Death Wish flick there's a rape and a woman close to Kersey dies, because she's close to Kersey. Kersey barely even goes out on a date with her. I mean he doesn't even score, yet his aura of death is so powerful that she's marked with it and dies before the movie ends.
Death Wish 3 works as the straight up sequel because it follows the continuity established in the previous two films. Kersey's got a reputation that's followed him, but he's also got that quest for street justice. But it works as satire because it's so cliché that it could be viewed as a statement on the genre as a whole. It's not over the top enough to be parody, but it's close.
But there are a few things that really slay me about Death Wish 3.
I like how it completely eschews the roman numerals established by Death Wish II.
It's the first Death Wish movie to get a video game.
Also, due to the constant referencing to Wildey in the movie the demand for the gun grew so much that the insolvent manufacturer became a viable company again.
Plus this is the Death Wish that features Bill from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and one of those funky alien chicks from the least lame, yet equally lacking ironic entertainment Star Trek show.
Do yourself a favor and check out Death Wish 3 the next chance you get, it gets not only the Skip Serpico "Seal of Satisfaction™" but also the Skip Serpico "Stupendous Stamp o' Sanction™."