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Death Wish (1974)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 3



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 21,440

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Movie Info

This drama about a man who takes the law into his own hands was wildly controversial upon first release, sparking much debate about the perceived pro-vigilante stance of the story, and established Charles Bronson as a major box office draw in the United States. Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) is a liberal architect living in New York City. One day, a group of drug-crazed thugs break into his apartment while he's gone, killing his wife Joanna (Hope Lange) and brutally raping his married daughter,


Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics

Wendell Mayes

Jan 16, 2001

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (8) | DVD (7)

Poisonous incitement to do-it-yourself law enforcement is the vulgar exploitation hook on which Death Wish is awkwardly hung.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (3)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Winner's recourse to caricature when dealing with police and thugs, and his virtually overt sympathies with the confused, violent Bronson, make for uncritical, simplistic viewing.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a despicable movie, one that raises complex questions in order to offer bigoted, frivolous, oversimplified answers.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (4)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie has an eerie kind of fascination, even though its message is scary.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stylish exploitation vigilante thriller.

February 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A morbid little revenge thriller...

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Nixonite gorge-riser

September 6, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

There's an undeniable thrill when Bronson blows away some sleazy mugger.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

We know Bronson can be a tough guy, but not so much the mild-mannered guy; he seems to be trying to split the difference the whole time

July 10, 2008 Full Review Source:

The violence is excessive and the plot predictable, although there is some style to director Winner's approach.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A compulsively watchable bit of '70s nostalgia, a curious counterpart to Dirty Harry and an icon of New York-brand justice.

February 25, 2006 Full Review Source:

Solid if morally suspect revenge thriller.

July 19, 2004 | Comment (1)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The movie that sealed Bronson's reputation as a tough guy.

October 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Somewhat enjoyable right-wing revenge flick.

April 11, 2003 | Comments (2)
Juicy Cerebellum

Chilling revenge pic that retains every bit of its power to disturb.

October 3, 2002 | Comments (2)
Flipside Movie Emporium

First (and easily the best) dark adventure of vigilante Paul Kersey.

July 25, 2002 | Comment (1)

Even those who disagree with its knee-jerk vigilante ideology have a hard time denying its impact because the film digs deep and works on an almost subconscious level.

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Sumptuously photographed and scored, the movie is an excellent capsule of '70s filmmaking -- thrilling, thought provoking and sending us off with a wink at the end.

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

A minor classic that surpasses all expectations.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Death Wish

I find it fascinating how this created controversy in both the USA and the UK for very different reasons. A certain scene of sexual violence was considered too extreme and endorsing (according to the BBFC). Whereas the film sparked controversy over in America for being propaganda for vigilantism. However, these don't stop Death Wish from being a powerful and interesting story about how one man's perception on the world changes and how he reacts to it. Charles Bronson does give an impressive performance in which you can understand and sympathise with his character of Paul Kersey. It may not look the most appealing of films, but it's strong, intense and you (sometimes) agree with how Kersey handles certain situations.
October 15, 2013
Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

Excellent revenge action drama starring Charles Bronson, Death Wish is a fairly basic flick that relies on a simple plot. However the genius of this film lies in the menacing performance of Charles Bronson who shines as Paul Kersey, who's bent on revenge after the brutal beating of his wife and daughter at the hands of hooligans. This is an essential film to watch for Bronson fans as well as those looking for a classic action film. Brilliantly acted and directed, this is a very good film that displays Charles Bronson in top form. This film is a 1970's action classic. With effective directing, director Michael Winner crafts a wonderful action film that remains a standout film of 1970's action. If you enjoy Charles Bronson's work, give this film a shot. The plot is fairly simple, but it manages to be thrilling due to a strong script, and Bronson's memorable screen presence. If you love old school action films like Dirty Harry, The Mechanic and Bullit, then give this one a watch. The action is great and fairly minimal compared to the sequels, but that's not a bad thing because the focus is more on the characters and with that, it helps telling a great story despite its simple idea. For fans of Charles Bronson, Death Wish is a must see. There's a good cast here, and there's enough action and drama to keep you involved from start to finish. This film is one of the best revenge films to ever be filmed and it's an essential Charles Bronson film to see. If you love classic action, definitely watch this film. Death Wish is thrilling and leaves you hooked from start to finish. With a solid script, great cast and a powerful lead performance from Bronson, Death Wish delivers the ultimate revenge experience.
August 9, 2012
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Paul Kersey: Nothing to do but cut and run, huh? What else? What about the old American social custom of self-defense? If the police don't defend us, maybe we ought to do it ourselves. 

"Vigilante, city style -- Judge, Jury, and Executioner"

What a beautiful portrait of New York Death Wish paints. Basically it is telling the viewer that if you walk on the street you will get mugged. One man is mugged like six times in the movie. A little excessive, but it makes its point; even if it is a stupid one. Carry a gun and shoot the muggers, vigilantism 101 I guess. The movie has a very exploitative and brutal nature. The makers also show that cops mean nothing. They won't find criminals, so go out and get a gun and kill anyone that fucks with you. Why, what a beautiful world that would be. Yeah, so by now you can see that I agree with absolutely nothing this movie is saying; from the gun rights issue to the vigilante justice. I may not agree with it, but I actually did like the movie to a certain extent.

An architects wife is murdered and his daughter is raped by muggers. The once peaceful man takes it upon himself to kill any mugger he comes across. New York is taken by storm, as muggings go down and the cops must decide if this vigilante is worth arresting anyway. He is basically doing their job for them, which leaves them with much more time to do the things cops really like too do, like eat donuts. 

The character lives by the motto of "Fight fire with fire." He is fighting violence by being just as violent. Whatever your stance on that is will tell you how much you will like the movie. In my case though, I didn't think I would like it at all because of this, but I actually enjoyed Charles Bronson as architect turned vigilante. 

The movie clearly sets up its sequel when the character leaves New York and moves to the less crime filled Chicago. I don't see myself watching all the sequels to this movie, as this was nothing more than average. But from Chicago, it would only make sense to move on to Detroit and then maybe Boston. You might as well clean up every criminal heavy city.
December 17, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

My predicted rating: 4

How many times can one man get mugged?

One of the most famous vigilante films, Charles Bronson a one man vengeful vigilante, with a taste for justice, cool and obsessive as each person represents the true culprits he wishes to take out, whilst seeming untouchable.

A very watchable film with empathy for the character.
October 15, 2011

Super Reviewer

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Latest News on Death Wish

February 25, 2013:
Joe Carnahan No Longer Attached to Death Wish
A casting dispute between the director and the studio is rumored to be the deal-breaker.
September 4, 2012:
Joe Carnahan's Death Wish Is Not a Remake
Not "at all, in ANY way," according to Carnahan, who insists he's going back to the book for...
February 1, 2012:
Joe Carnahan Talks Death Wish Remake
"I want to show an unseen version of L.A. L.A. on foot. Prowling. Hunting. The vast emptiness of...

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  • Ein Mann sieht rot (DE)
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