MPW-48302

Review: DEATH WISH II (1982)

by Meredith Grau

http://facebook.com/quoththemaven 

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Best Bad Quote:

“Why do we kill people? To show it’s wrong to kill people.”

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The good news is, as far as sequels go, this one isn’t as horrible as I remember. Of course, I have seen many, many “bad” movies over the past couple years, so even Glitter is looking good at this point. Death Wish II suffers from the usual burn, as the character and the concept are no longer fresh and the stain of “franchise” is upon it. Sequels and series, even when well done, often feel like they’re needlessly conjuring old souls from the dead. But, Paul Kersey will NEVER die– because he does all the killing– so I guess it’s ok.

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Yup, Kersey is back with a vengeance! I mean… A BIGGER vengeance! Yeah. It’s huge! Now living in L.A, his heart has had two years to heal after his wife’s death and his daughter’s rape (and resulting vegetative state). His anger seems to have been quelled too. Of course, it’s still in there, as we discover kicks the ass of a mugger early in the film— like a Bitch! Paul is also back to being a ladies’ man with new love interest Geri Nichols (Jill Ireland) who is pretty much a Disney Princess/journalist researching the death penalty— hence the Best Bad Quote. All is going well in Paul La Land, until the thug Paul wiped the floor with earlier whines to his cronies and they, using Paul’s stolen drivers license, find his address, break in, rape his “ethic maid” #happyslave, kidnap his daughter, and pummel the sh*t out of him. 

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Paul does not wake up happy, especially after he finds out that his daughter, has not only been raped— AGAIN— but has jumped to her death and landed gracefully on a spike. (You’re right. It IS a bit much). Paul immediately goes back to his old ways, this time with a jaunty beanie cap, to specifically hunt down the band of randy neanderthals and kill every last one of them— including Laurence Fishburne, who sports the most delicious pair of pink shades that I’ve ever seen. But while Paul hunts, he is being hunted by the LAPD and his old pal Det. Ochoa who has been flown in from NYC. Will big P get the job done before the law steps in? Psh, whaddyou think?

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The good: Bronson is awesome and the stakes are a little higher this go round, as Paul has to hide his dual identity from his starry eyed girlfriend. His character has also changed. Before, he plunged himself into the dark side because he, you guessed it, had a Death Wish. This time, he’s not offering himself up as sacrifice. His wish is more to bring death to others, grim reaper-style. As such, the revenge scenes are a little more intense for, instead of tactically waiting to be stalked, Paul is ravenously stalking the prey. Of course, this also makes Paul less of a ghost/victim and more of a madman/villain, so your attitude toward both films will tell you the Paul you prefer.

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The bad: The film is less poetic than its predecessor. It is less psychological; more physical. It’s also more gratuitous. In addition to Fishburne suffering death by stereo (RIP Corey Haim), there are random boobs everywhere, (real and metaphorical) as if the director were like, “Let’s make this shocking and have one boob pop out here! And… and… two right there!” (See Serpico for proper use of violent nudity, Michael Winner. For shame). Essentially, what worked in the first film is exaggerated, including the rape scenes, which are unbelievably disturbing and morally offensive. In fact, this confusing movie boasts both the most repulsive and the most sensual rape scenes I’ve ever witnessed, with the latter suggesting, “Well, ya’ know, rapists need sweet, sweet love too.” Eh? Come again?  (Hm. Bad choice of words…).

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Of course, this makes Paul’s revenge feel uh-mazing, but the gang he’s chasing is so all over the place ridiculous— having a groovy dance party in the park, sporting “no business in the front, all party in the back” mullets— that they don’t even seem worth his bullets. They’re… Gross. And annoying. And one of them looks like Sloth from The Goonies in a wig– without the charm.

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Anywhoodle, II lacks the soul of the original, but it still packs a powerful and uncomfortably twisted punch— considering the villains all seem to have emerged from Toon Town. Gotta say, I still enjoy it, even when I  cringe. But that’s cuz I know Bronson will get rid of the repugnant riff raff for me eventually.

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Review: 

4 out of 5 Shad-y Mothafuckahs

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