Vigilante in L.A.

Charles Bronson in Death Wish II (1982)

Following what happened in New York Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) has relocated to L.A. where his traumatised daughter Carol (Robin Sherwood) is having treatment whist he has begun dating the attractive Geri (Jill Ireland). But after a bunch of punks steal his wallet they go to Paul's home and after raping his maid wait for him to return home and not only rough him up but take Carol with them who after also being raped jumps to her death. It leads to Paul not only shutting Geri out but turning vigilante again which in turn leads to the L.A. cops getting in touch with the cops in New York who fearing that they will end up in trouble for letting Paul go send Inspector Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) to make sure things don't lead back to them.

As I watched "Death Wish II" I realised something, the vague memory of watching what I thought was "Death Wish" during my teens was in fact this sequel as the only thing which stood out in my mind was the rape scenes surrounding Paul's maid. The thing is that whilst I am sure if I had watched "Death Wish" first it might build up some sort of back story I don't think it would make the sequel any better or any worse as it is what it is. That is an 80s movie which whilst not glorifying violence towards women doesn't shy away from it and is really all about Charles Bronson being the tough guy who takes down street punks who have done him wrong. In many ways Bronson is a forerunner to the likes of Liam Neeson with his "Taken" movies except Bronson's Paul Kersey was just a man driven to revenge with no skills other than being tough and determined.

Now I could attempt to rationalize "Death Wish II" by saying it shows how the death of his daughter pushes Kersey over the edge, shutting Geri out not only because of his secret side but out of wanting to protect her. And I could say that the sequel tries to be clever by drawing on the fact that the NY police fear that if Kelsey is caught there will be recriminations for them. But I would be dressing up a simple movie which as I said is all about Charles Bronson getting revenge.

To put this bluntly "Death Wish II" is so reliant on the appeal of Charles Bronson being a tough guy and clearing the streets of punks that the acting through out leaves a lot to be desired even from Bronson. This is simply one of those movies where the actors say their lines, talking at each other but not to them which makes it often awkward when you watch expecting more than the basics.

What this all boils down to is that "Death Wish II" is definitely not a great piece of cinema and it is highly flawed. But there something surprisingly entertaining about this movie which is basically all about Charles Bronson being a tough guy.

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