Articles & Notes — August 15, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Discovering “Death Wish” series with Charles Bronson: thoughts, ideas

By Tim Tal

I’ve finally got my hands on the entire “Death Wish” film series with Charles Bronson. Whenever Bronson’s name comes up, “Death Wish” series are mentioned. So now I at least know what the whole talk is about.

The story throughout the series is simple – an architect, Paul Kersey (played by Bronson) turns into a vigilante and starts killing off muggers on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and so on. Bronson’s tough guy image fit right in.

On the other hand, one thing that I’ve realized, by watching the series is how truly tragic destiny Paul Kersey really has.

– In DW1 his wife is killed, daughter assaulted, he never finds the muggers who did it.
– In DW2 his daughter is raped and then commits suicide.
– In DW3 Kersey meets a new cute girl, she gets murdered by a gang of muggers.
– In DW 4 Kersey gets involved with a divorced woman with a daughter. The daughter dies of a drug overdose, the woman is later killed as well.
– In DW 5 Kersey again gets involved with a woman who has a daughter. This time, only the woman gets killed…

Well, you get the point. Throughout the whole series, Kersey is portrayed as someone who’d be your best friend and a guy you could always count on, be it help with setting up a birthday party or going out to shoot some muggers.

The thing is that Kersey looks… cursed. Cursed for his own good. The more muggers he kills, the more “good” he does by cleaning up the streets, the more loved ones are taken away from him. And as the series develop, you get the feeling he’s learned to cope with that.

Two more interesting things to point out in the series – Kersey gets “involved” with five women in five “Death Wish” films (including his wife in the first film, played by Hope Lange and his real-life wife Jill Ireland in DW2), and only one of them is a brunette (Lesley-Anne Down).

And the second one – Kersey kills well over 40-50 people in the entire series, and the police can’t do anything about him. Every time, he either manages to get away from the law (carrying out his own type of justice), or the police just goes blind of the “work” he’s doing on the streets.

The audience is of course rooting for him, despite that some would thing twice before applauding to his methods of delivering justice.

Bronson made three more movies after DW 5 (1994), the “Family of Cops” trilogy, and then he passed away in 2003.

If the circumstances were different, Bronson could’ve made at least two more “Death Wish” films. Here’s what they could’ve been about:

1. Kersey never found the muggers who killed his wife in the first film. So, DW 6 could circle around Kersey somehow running into… a man of some high position, played by Jeff Goldblum (one of freaks who kills Kersey’s wife in DW 1), and thanks to a series of flashbacks, he recalls who the guy is. What follows is a typical “Paul Kersey revenge” plan.

2. DW 7 could have been a slightly different film, since Bronson would’ve been too old to do a lot of action. On the other hand, this would play out better in the script – as the film could center around a “crime organization” (which may include relatives or some people Kersey killed in the past), that put out a contract on his head. So, for the first time, Kersey, the vigilante, becomes a victim, and is forced to defend himself. Maybe, with the help of a younger sidekick(s).

Well, all this isn’t really important, since Bronson is gone, and the “Death Wish” series are here for all the fans to appreciate and remember Bronson for one of his iconic roles.



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