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Blu-Ray Review: Kino Lorber’s Death Wish 5: The Face of Death (KL Studio Classics)

Death Wish 5 The Face of Death

It’s Charles Bronson vs Michael Parks in the final installment of the Death Wish series, Death Wish 5: The Face of Death.  New to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber.  

The Film 

Confession time, 2023 is the year that I finally saw all the Death Wish films.  I had seen the first two early in my life.  I thought that I had seen the rest of the Death Wish films.  Turns out I realized very quickly that I mistook all of the Death Wish films after Death Wish 2 for Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects.  Who can blame me though?  Kinjite is literally a Death Wish film with a different title (hell, I’m willing to bet good money in Italy they called it Death Wish 6: Watch Eatin’ Time).  

In my review for Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, I compared Kersey to Jason Vorhees.  This is a good comp I think because it’s equally applicable to Death Wish 5: The Face of Death.  However, if The Crackdown is Jason Goes to Hell then The Face of Death is Freddy vs. Jason.  Bronson/Kersey have met their match in Tommy O’Shea/Michael Parks.  O’Shea is the ex-husband of Kersey’s new love interest fashion designer Olivia Regent (Leslie-Anne Down).  DW5 wastes zero seconds showing us the kind of villainy that Kersey will eventually face with O’Shea cutting fat from a man and throwing racial slurs like it’s, well, the 1980s.  

Parks a truly great actor is having the time of his life here acting with an accent that rivals anything that Burt Reynolds did in the 1970s (if you know, you definitely know).  O’Shea is a villain so villainy that he out-villained ordinary villains every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Like any good crime lord in a Death Wish film, he’s got a bunch of equally villainy henchmen.  Bronson vs Parks is something to behold and it plays out as some sort of demented divorce custody battle by way of horror action film – each vying for the affection of Olivia’s daughter.  

The lunacy here is ratcheted up even beyond the Yojimbo-on-crack that is Death Wish 4: The Crackdown. There’s no subtlety here.  Just everything blasted to the Spinal Tap 11.  Which makes things even funnier than it could possibly be intended.  The way that Bronson stoically goes through everything only shows the slightest bit of glee once he is able to exact his revenge on the goons that have killed, SPOILERS, his girlfriend.  

The first two acts of the film are all a preview of the main event that’s set in a mannequin-filled garment factory.  Kersey goes full-on Vorhees/Kruger/Meyers/Ghostface slasher as he disposes of goon after goon until only the Final Boy aka O’Shea is left.  Trust me when I say how he dispenses with O’Shea is like Vanessa Williams sung so beautifully, the best for last…

One does feel a bit of regret after the full evolution of Paul Kersey into the first Baba Yagga of Action Cinema (he crawled so John Wick could run), he had at least a few more entries.  We will just have to be satisfied with Death Wish 5: The Face of Death as delivery on the promise of its title.  

The Transfer

The transfer, unknown if new or from an existing older one, is a beautifully rendered cinematically looking image.  The film looks like a pristine 35mm archival print – with minor defects giving the image more character than a spotless DNR’ed to death image.  Fans of the film will delight in the image’s uptick in quality from the prior – 20th Century Fox Discs and having the disc did a sampling of both images – Blu-ray release.   

The Extras

They include the following;

  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian Paul Talbot, the Author of the BRONSON’S LOOSE! Books
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Audio Commentary by Film Historian Paul Talbot, the Author of the BRONSON’S LOOSE! Books, the track opens with Talbot’s bonafides and heads into this well-researched and informative track, which feels like a continuation of his equally enlightening track on Death Wish 4: The Crackdown.  Some of the details include the various alternate title dropping of the 5; the fact that this film was not produced by Cannon Films rather 21st Century Films – Golan, minus Globus, producing; how the film is the single film without any sexual assault/rape; how the film was shot entirely in Toronto Canada subbing for New York City; the development of the script – even Crackdown’s screenwriter Gail Hickman own version of the 5th film that Golan rejected for budget concerns; the strange choice that writer/director Allan A. Goldstein; the production schedule and budget – the lack of a budget and how that affected the movie in its design and visual look which is more of a TV movie because of the speed at which they had to film; Bronson’s salary and contract stipulations; a larger discussion of the various deleted scenes and moments from the first cute; a larger discussion of the various guns that are used within the film; Talbot throughout discusses the various actors, stunt people, and behind the scenes crew that worked on the production; and more. If there’s anyone you want to comment on a Bronson starring vehicle it’s Talbot.  

Rounding out the special features are trailers for Death Wish 5: The Face of Death (1:00), Death Wish (2:20), Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1:34), Cold Sweat (2:36), Mr. Majestyk (1:33), Breakout (1:34) 

The Final Thought 

Death Wish 5: The Face of Death is the evolution of Vigilante to Horror Slasher.  Recommended. 

Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray edition of Death Wish 5: The Face of Death is out now. 

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