‘If you need any help, give me a call’
At an upscale fashion show, lithe models in a state of undress hurriedly prepare for the runway. Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) ex-vigilante now architecture professor is in attendance. He’s there to support his fiancé, glamorous fashion designer, Olivia Regent (Lesley Anne-Down). Also attending is Olivia’s gangster ex-husband, racist scumbag Tommy O’Shea (Michael Parks). O’Shea has infiltrated every aspect of his ex-wife’s fashion empire and are using the company as a front for money laundering.
When O’Shea threatens and injures some of Olivia’s employees, Kersey convinces her to speak with the District Attorney. However there is a mole in the attorney’s office and word that Olivia is cooperating with law enforcement leaks. O’Shea is furious and hires an assassin to horrifically disfigure Olivia’s face and ultimately kill her. Faced with the utter failure of the legal system, Kersey takes on the mantle of vigilante for the final time.
Death Wish 5: The Face of Death has all the atmosphere of a low-budget mid-90s Canadian TV show episode. Artlessly filmed and edited, director Allan A. Goldstein is unable to deliver a kinetic action film. Despite these faults, the always watchable Bronson retains his commanding presence, overshadowing the amateurish actors surrounding him.
The movie also lacks the unintentional hilarity and guilty pleasure exploitation factor of Death Wish 3 and Death Wish 4. Nevertheless, there are some highlights, namely the creative and occasionally gruesome ways Kersey murders O’Shea’s gang. This includes poisoning, remote-controlled explosions, a grinding machine and a literal pit of acid. Finally, there is an excellent final shot in the movie that also serves as a fitting coda for Bronson’s career. In this last scene, Bronson walks away from the camera, towards an exit door, his entire body silhouetted in luminescent blue and white light.
Death Wish 5: The Face of Death is recommended for hard-core fans of Charles Bronson and is a much better film that the thoroughly awful and cheap-looking, Family of Cops movies, which were Bronson’s final acting roles.