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Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

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    Ian Jane
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  • Death Wish 4: The Crackdown



    Released by: MGM

    Released on: August 14, 2012.

    Director: J. Lee Thompson

    Cast: Charles Bronson, Dana Barton, Kay Lenz, John P. Ryan

    Year: 1987

    Purchase From Amazon


    The Movie:


    Erica Sheldon (Dana Barron of National Lampoon's Vacation) is a normal teenage girl and the daughter of Karen Sheldon (Kay Lenz), architect Paul Kersey's new girlfriend. Together the three of them live happily in Los Angeles (where Kersey has once again returnd after the events that took place in New York City in the third film), that is until one night, when out with her boyfriend, Erica dies of a drug overdose.


    Kersey does some investigating on his own and starts to track down the gangsters responsible for Erica's overdose, and quickly finds that the drug problem is running rampant in the city of angels. Kersey learns that there are actually two rival gangs involved in the illegal narcotics trade, so he does what he can to turn the two gangs against each other. It's here that the film takes a turn into Yojimbo territory as through Kersey's doing, the gangs start killing each other off.


    Of course, the police are going to get involved, and they do, though with some reluctance. Most of the cops are ok with the thugs killing each other off as it saves them from having to put any more effort into bringing them in - but Kersey's actions aren't going unnoticed.


    The gritty realism of the first two films of the series and the rampant, over the top violence of the third are missing from this fourth entry in the series that Cannon films refused to put to rest. Bronson was no spring chicken when this was made and at times, he seems like he doesn't want to be there. Those moments aside though, he's entertaining as always, delivering the great tough guy dialogue we've come to expect from his most famous character and doing it all with his trademark stone faced look. Aged or not, he's still got that 'tough guy' thing going on and while there are moments where reality is stretched a little bit, this is still very much Bronson's show through and through.


    Veteran action director J. Lee Thompson doesn't bring much of interest to the table in terms of style or visual flair but the movie is well paced and efficient. Most of the camera movements and setups are quite basic, even simplistic sometimes, but Thompson gets the job done well enough despite a few technical goof ups (one explosion is noticeably superimposed and is obviously fake). This isn't his best film or his best collaboration with Bronson but they turn in solid workmanlike material here.


    Even with a few strikes against it though, Death Wish 4 - The Crackdown isn't total bottom of the barrel material. It's entertaining enough if you keep your expectations lowered and the film does deliver plenty of action - and the film definitely ends on a pretty amazing note, with a showdown between the main good guy and bad guy that immediately follows a shoot out that takes place around the video games in a roller disco!


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    MGM presents Death Wish 4 on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 that, like Death Wish 2 and Death Wish 3, looks very good - in fact, it looks the best of the three movies. Once again, detail is noticably improved over the DVD release from a few years ago (which was full frame) and color reproduction feels more natural here, you'll be able to appreciate the roller disco shoot out scene in all its tacky eighties glory. The film is grainy as it should be but doesn't suffer from any serious print damage. Black levels are pretty good and skin tones look nice and natural, there's no evidence of any noise reduction having been applied here. At the risk of becoming repetitive, if you've seen any of the other recent MGM catalogue titles on Blu-ray over the last year or so you'll know what to expect - a solid film like transfer that hasn't been given a massive restoration but which still looks quite good and offers a nice upgrade over its standard definition counterpart. Fans of the film should be quite pleased with the picture quality here.


    The English DTS-HD track on this disc is also fine. The film's score sounds good, the dialogue is easy to understand the levels are properly balanced. There are no issues with hiss or distortion and everything comes through cleanly and clearly. As this is an older mono mix you obviously can't really expect much in the way of channel separation or fancy surround action but for what it is, this older single channel tracks sounds just fine. Optional Dolby Digital Mono options are provided in French and Spanish with removable subtitles provided in English SDH and Spanish.


    Extras? Nothing except for a pop-up menu that offers chapter selection, subtitle and audio set up, and the film's theatrical trailer. When you put the disc in, after the standard warnings the movie starts right away, you won't see the menu unless you hit the menu button on your remote.


    The Final Word:


    Death Wish 4: The Crackdown isn't as beloved as the first three movies because, quite simply, it isn't as good. It's still worth seeing though, particularly for fans of Bronson and B-level eighties action movies, the kind that Cannon specialized in. MGM's Blu-ray release of the film offers only a trailer in terms of extras but does provide a very solid image and a nice audio upgrade.


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























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