Cast: Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Vincent Gardina, J.D. Cannon, Anthony Franciosa, Ben Frank
Blu-ray released by: Shout Factory
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Resolution: 1080p Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Plot-Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) has moved on with with his life and is living in LA. He is dating radio reporter, Geri Nichols (Jill Ireland). His daughter Carol (this time played by pretty Robin Sherwood) has been going through therapy and finally seems to have begun to show some signs of recovery. Kersey takes both Geri and Carol to the fairground. He goes on line to get some ice cream and, then, a street gang picks Kersey's pocket. He catches up with one of them and roughs him up. But, that guy doesn't have his wallet. Kersey lets the scumbag go.
The sleaziest and nastiest of the Death Wish sequels, the second entry has long lived in infamy. It is also genuinely the best sequel in the series. A violent, taut revenge thriller that stands as the type of mainstream action film that would never be made today. An early hit for the legendary Cannon Films, it has become a cult classic and, now thanks to Shout Factory we can see it unrated finally. But, more on that later.
The acting is solid, although not much character development is given to the villains. We get what is need to further tell the story and that's it. As such, the bad guys are multi-ethnic gang members, who include among their ranks a young Laurence Fishburne. The main scumbag is Nirvana (Thomas C. Duffy
Returning director Winner shows some nice style with some good, fluid camera movement. The movie is a bit slow at times. But, it is more interested in being a captivating revenge thriller, than an all out action film, unlike the entries that followed. As mentioned before it also very sleazy and admit ably mean-spirited. The intense violence is upped considerably from the original which didn't really have any graphic blood-letting.
This is most evident in this unrated cut. For years US fans have heard about this longer and more graphic unrated cut. To earn an R-rating in the US three scenes were cut down. The first two are the very nasty rape scenes, including a longer take on Rosario's nude, dead body. Yes, the rapes are, indeed, worse and harder to look at in the unrated version, than they ever were before. Also, Carol's gory implement is slightly longer and in more looming detail.
This is definitely an upgrade from the earlier MGM Blu-ray release. There is still a decent amount of grain, but there isn't anyway you were gonna fully get rid of that. The improvement comes in form of the excellent colors. They are more lively than before and detail is excellent. This is the best this movie will ever look and as such stands as a superb picture transfer of an 80s exploitation, action film.
As, it also has brand new running commentary over the unrated version by the author of Bronson's Loose!: The Making of the Death Wish Films, Paul Talbot. He really knows what he is talking about and gives fans a plethora of interesting and fascinating facts. He talks about the ratings problems, what was cut from the R, about the cast, etc. He talks about everything you want to know about the movie. This is a definite must listen for fans of the film, franchise, and Bronson, himself.
It also has the film's theatrical trailer and TV spot, the later of which is not mentioned in the back of the packing but is included.
On top of all of this, it also has a reversible cover, that features two different movie posters of the film.
Final Thoughts- Death Wish II might just be the sleaziest and dirtiest entry in a mainstream action franchise ever. It's also violent, badass, and holds your interest throughout. The best of the sequels in the series, it is finally given a US unrated release. And, it is a stellar one at that. Featuring the best picture it ever had, or likely ever will with a good sound quality, it hits the marks in the aesthetic aspect of the disc. There isn't a whole shit load of extras, but what there is excellent in nature. For Bronson and Death Wish fans this Blu-ray as an absolute must have!
Movie: 4 out of 5