Import Corner: Death Wish 4: The Crackdown and Death Wish 5: The Face of Death (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review


Umbrella Entertainment gives us the final two films in the Death Wish series, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown and Death Wish V: The Face of Death, in a nice and easy double feature.


Studio: Umbrella Entertainment
Release Date: November 6th, 1987 (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown) (theatrical) / January 14th, 1994 (Death Wish V: The Face of Death) (theatrical) / May 2nd, 2018 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 99 mins (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown) / 95 mins (Death Wish V: The Face of Death)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (both films)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown) / English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Death Wish V: The Face of Death)
Subtitles: English
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Charles Bronson, Kay Lenz, John P. Ryan, Perry Lopez, Soon-Tek Oh, Dana Barron (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown) / Charles Bronson, Lesley-Anne Down, Michael Parks, Chuck Shamata, Kevin Lund, Robert Joy (Death Wish V: The Face of Death)
Written by Gail Morgan Hickman (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown) / Allan A. Goldstein (Death Wish V: The Face of Death)
Directed by J. Lee Thompson (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown) / Allan A. Goldstein (Death Wish V: The Face of Death)
Rating: R (pervasive strong violence, a rape scene, some language, and drug use) (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown) / R (strong violence, and for nudity and language) (Death Wish V: The Face of Death)

THE FILM(S)


DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN (1987)


Paul Kersey is back in Los Angeles, and he is dating attractive reporter Karen Sheldon, who has a teenage daughter named Erica. While Erica is at an arcade with her boyfriend Randy Viscovich, Erica dies of a crack overdose. Later, Randy goes back to the arcade, with Kersey following him. Randy confronts JoJo, the dealer that Erica got the crack from. Randy tells JoJo that he's going to the police. To prevent that, JoJo kills Randy. Kersey shows up and blows JoJo away, and watches JoJo land on the electrical roof of the bumper-car ride, where JoJo is electrocuted to death. Next, Paul gets a note and a phone call from publisher Nathan White, who tells him that he knows about the death of JoJo. Nathan explains to Kersey that after Nathan's wife died, his daughter became his whole life. Then she became addicted to drugs, and died of an overdose. Nathan wants to hire Kersey to wipe out the drug trade in LA -- and in particular to target Ed Zacharias and Jack Romero, rival drug kingpins who are the city's two main drug suppliers. Kersey asks for a few days to think about it, and after a few days, he accepts Nathan's offer. Nathan supplies Kersey with weapons and information so Kersey can go after Zacharias and Romero.
After the batshit craziness that is DEATH WISH 3, hopes were high for DEATH WISH 4. I mean, when your lead character runs around with a machine gun that belongs on a tank and destroys wave after wave of punks and bad guys, you wouldn’t expect that to be the highest moment in the series, and yet it is. DEATH WISH 4 never had a chance. The script feels like it was written as another film, but used here. Bronson is fine as Kersey. He always is. I feel that the film peaks far too soon and doesn’t really find a way to make up for that. I do like how Kersey plays the gangs against each other, but almost everything else is just trash. The filmmakers clearly don’t care about this film either as they have Kersey just going around killing people without much effort and he barely hides behind anything to snipe people down. If fact, he hides behind a small tree during the climax of the film and no one can tell he’s there. The film is just lazy.

DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH (1994)


Paul Kersey is back at working vigilante justice when his fiancée, Olivia, has her business threatened by mobsters.

After watching, and being disappointed with DEATH WISH 4, I wasn’t really looking forward to part five, but I have to say that I liked it a lot more than part four. Sure, the film is a bit lazy with some of the things that Kersey does to the bad guys (Kersey buys a remote control soccer ball to use against a guy who has a crazy security system at his house), but the film makes up for it in other areas. First is Michael Parks as our villain. Wow, does this guy know how to play a bad guy or what? He is so great here that I was bummed out that he isn’t in the film more. We really feel that he is the racist bad guy who could fuck people up in unnerving ways. The film is also better directed and has some real surprises that I did not see coming. I also like how Parks is taken out at the end because I figured that the filmmakers would have forgotten about the one thing that is introduced very early on into the film. Overall, I would say that this is better than 2 and 4, but can’t top 1 or 3.

THE PICTURE AND SOUND


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown 

Umbrella Entertainment has given us both DEATH WISH sequels on one disc and the results are good. Both transfers are taken from older masters, but they still have some life in them. Detail is good as are colors and clarity with a small amount of black crush here and there. Film grain is present in both films and feels a bit less natural than what we would have hoped for. Skin tones are nice too. I would have loved to get these films with new transfers, but these are better than expected and work pretty well.

Both films sound really good too. DEATH WISH 4 has a mono track while DEATH WISH 5 gets a stereo track and they work very well.

THE PACKAGING


THE MENUS




THE FEATURES


       DEATH WISH 4

                Audio Commentary by Paul Talbot
Theatrical Trailer (1m 33s, HD)
TV Spot (30s, SD, 1.33:1)
TV Broadcast Promo (30s, SD, 1.33:1)
VHS Preview (20s, SD, 1.33:1)
Image Gallery (62 images) (both films)

DEATH WISH V

                Audio Commentary by Paul Talbot
Theatrical Trailer (1m 38s, HD, 1.33:1)
VHS Promo (56s, SD, 1.33:1)

The features here are a bit lacking. We do get two very strong commentary tracks from author Paul Talbot, who wrote Bronson's Loose! The Making of the 'Death Wish' Films and Bronson's Loose Again!, who knows these films, and it’s star, front and back. I had a lot of fun with these tracks and think that everyone who wants to know more about these films should listen to them. The rest of the features are advertisements for the two films from their respective times. I am always a fan of the inclusion of the trailers, tv spots, and whatever else was used to sell the films on which the blu-rays they are, so I am not mad that the trailers and whatnot are included. I am just a bit disappointing that no one who worked on either one of these films wanted to sit down for an interview, even if it was a Skype call type thing. The commentary tracks are really strong so that isn’t anything to deny.

THE CONCLUSION


Death Wish V: The Face of Death

DEATH WISH 4 was a huge letdown, but DEATH WISH 5 came in and saved the day. Both films are worth a watch if you are going through the series, but I don’t really see myself going back to part 4 anytime soon. The blu-ray here is pretty good with nice picture and sound. The features are a bit lacking, but that is made up for with two very strong commentary tracks. This is a good purchase for those wanting to finish out their DEATH WISH collection as part 5 is not available on blu-ray here in the states, but any fan should pick this double feature up.

THE SCREENSHOTS


DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN (1987)


DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH (1994)

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