Run Time: 87 mins
What To Expect: Effective pastiche, aware of its audience. Very low budget
Just over two weeks ago was the 15th anniversary of the death of the imitable Charles Bronson, a guy who made brick-hard, give-no-fucks manly movies well into his winter years. But while I say imitable, director Rene Perez sure took a shot at reviving Big Charlie by casting doppelganger Robert Kovacs (Bronzi) in a violent Death Wish riff. And for an extremely low budget movie, you’re probably going to want to watch it at least once all the same, simply because Perez knows that looking like Bronson isn’t enough.
We hit the ground running, as ‘The Stranger’ (Bronzi) is murdering child rapists in the dead of night, using a hand cannon. The man is a vigilante who presumably wants to clean the scum off the streets, but unlike Travis Bickle, he’s a man of few words – no bloated reflection here, just men being shot or beaten up. Throughout the movie, The Stranger uses money and riches he has relieved from the corpses of pissants and gives it to a young mother of a disabled child. The motives for this, we don’t know until the end. We don’t know why he has it in for chief villain Tyrell (Richard Tyson, the villain from Kindergarten Cop) either, but the scumbag is afraid! “A nutjob! I got a goddamn maniac with a mustache after me!”
There is a lot to love about this movie, but I’ll get some distractions out of the way first. The movie has quite cheap production values, this means expecting CGI muzzle flashes and blood explosions, some people will really slate the movie for this or perhaps not give it a chance. Additionally, the musical score is a mixed bag. Early in the movie, they get it right (synth) but later, they get it wrong – hip hop-ish beats fuel the action, which feel out of place. Bronzi is a dead ringer for Bronson too, but when he opens his mouth, it’s way off. I’m not sure if this is Bronzi’s real tongue or someone dubbed it, but it sounds so far removed from Charles that it can on occasion distract.
On the upside though, this movie really knows what’s up, lack of money or not.
First, it knows its limitations. We don’t get some shitty drawn out ambitious VOD script, rather we get an old school tight and bespoke homage foundation. Bronzi is killing men from the off, because everyone knows the backstory to this character already. Don’t waste time when people are less tolerant of weak production values, get going… good. The film’s bad guys are also amazingly depraved, led by the brilliant Richard Tyson. I mean I gotta admit, Tyson’s behavior and line delivery in this movie are hilarious, he’s having a ball and eating up the scenery. And of course murderous rapists require murderous vengeance, ‘The Stranger’ is a violent fellow and while the blood is fake CGI, it still manages to look gnarly. One bullet isn’t enough, we see that hand cannon blow whole chunks of men up over the walls, two or three times over. When you’re down, ‘The Stranger’ is going to make sure you stay down.
And there’s a fourth character, alongside Bronzi, Tyson and Eva Hamilton’s damsel mother.
Daniel Baldwin is in this movie. He’s playing a right wing radio host who is cheering on the lunatic, or at least insinuating that it’s time to murder assorted trash plaguing the streets. Baldwin’s character, Dan Forthright, is sort of like Alex Jones, letting rip with stuff that would never be allowed in a mainstream movie. Baldwin is also clearly enjoying this stuff, and is pulling it off so well that I wonder if most of it wasn’t improvisation.
Two more things finally. Bronzi looks like Bronson. A lot, sometimes it’s breathtaking. And to be honest I totally approve, it was done correctly and with good hands. And secondly, there is a hint of a sequel… I say bring it on. The Stranger and Dan Forthright are going to be a big hit for readers of this site.
I’m not sure whether to give this a 7 or an 8, so let’s just call it a strong 7.
Death Kiss is released October 2nd.