This is the first of several films featuring Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, a modern day urban equivalent of Robin Hood, Zorro, and the Lone Ranger. When initially released, Death Wish was immediately controversial as was Dirty Harry (1971). Audiences tended to be divided between those who were offended by what they considered to be excessive violence and those who (like Harry Callahan and Paul Kersey) had lost confidence in society's willingness and/or ability to respond effectively to violent crime.
When we first meet Kersey, he is in all respects a gentle man. A successful architect who is happily married to Joanna (Hope Lange) and a proud father of his beloved daughter, he is carefully positioned as a law-abiding citizen. After his wife and daughter are brutally attacked by thugs who escape punishment, Kersey commits himself to ridding the city of such crap. In fact, he seeks them out in the most likely areas (e.g. public parks and on subways), coldly and systematically killing as many as he can. Of course, other law abiding citizens are wholly supportive of his efforts but law enforcement officials fear the possible implications of such vigilantiism.
Directed by: Michael Winner
"I watched 'Death Wish' and after turning off the DVD, I wondered why there weren't more heroic vigilantes out there." Good work "Kersey!"
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