Nights on the road can get a little dull when you’re traveling solo for work—you end up spending a lot of time alone in your hotel room, eating bad food and watching bad TV. But occasionally the Fates show you a little mercy, by offering up some unexpected entertainment. Such was the case during my recent Arizona trip, during which I was able to pass a few joyful hours wrapped up in AMC’s “Bronson Week,” a celebration of the greatest Lithuanian-American action star in Hollywood history.
The movie marathon came along at just the right time, given that I’m currently working on a project about Central and Eastern European immigrants who worked in the coal mines during the early part of the 20th century. (Charles Bronson’s dad was just such a miner; the family name is actually Buchinski.) But more important, the series provided me with excellent fodder for this week’s installment of Bad Movie Friday: the ultra-violent slab of cinematic dreck known as Death Wish 3.
This movie suffers from what I like to call “The Warriors Effect.” After Walter Hill’s classic flick, a whole generation of directors tried to create shabby-chic villains who were equal parts killers and fashion plates. But the director of Death Wish 3, whose previous credits had included Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, didn’t have the chops to mimic Hill’s neat trick. Instead he gave us one of the most laughably artificial gang leaders ever, Manny Fraker, who sports a reverse mohawk guaranteed to strike fear in no one. An IMDb reviewer neatly sums up the movie’s over-the-top nature:
Hoodlums throw grenades through windows, old men are set on fire, ordinary women fire double-barreled shotguns at punks, cops run through the streets shooting at thugs perched on windows and rooftops who fire back using semi-automatics, this is the universe DW3 takes place in. Eighties cheese (complete with eye-of-the-tiger-ish synth score) meets Bosnia Herzegovina. And it’s supposed to take place somewhere in East NYC. You know it is an outrageous all-out-war action extravaganza you’re watching, when Bronson fires an anti-tank, anti-personnel, armor-piercing rocket launcher inside a living room.
Yet Death Wish 3 also makes me a little sad, due to this factoid I dug up from the book Bronson’s Loose:
The movie was called Death Wish 3 instead of Death Wish III because recent marketing surveys had determined that the average moviegoer could not read Roman numerals.
Does that mean I should’ve titled my thousandth Microkhan post something other than “M”?