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CHARLES BRONSON AVENGING DANA BARRON IN 'DEATH WISH IV'

year: 1987 cast: Charles Bronson, Kay Lenz, Dana Barron, John P. Ryan rating: ***1/2

It makes perfect bloody sense that Charles Bronson’s iconic vigilante Paul Kersey, who works as an architect by day and takes care of business by night, would become a bonafide hit man: After three entire films he’s gotten so good at killing criminals, he's hired by a mysterious "millionaire" (John P. Ryan) to infiltrate a rival gang by any means possible...

For those new to the DEATH WISH franchise, Kersey’s wife was murdered in the first movie, his daughter raped – then in part two his daughter's killed and now (after protecting an entire slum building in the third) he’s up against the mafia after girlfriend Kay Lenz's teenage daughter overdoses...

Dana Barron in DEATH WISH IV: THE CRACKDOWN with Charles Bronson

Played by VACATION actress Dana Barron (the original Audrey Griswold), she takes some lethal crack cocaine from a mob-connected street dealer: This death makes the millionaire's offer that much more lucrative: Kersey's vendetta begins with the low-rent dealer himself, not as basic as it sounds...

After being hired he doesn’t just go around offing thugs. Upon every hit, the two targeted mob "families" fight amongst themselves, and, with a crooked cop in the mix, Kersey gets caught in-between: Then a third act twist puts our mustached hero on the run...

Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN

Following the departure of blood-spattered auteur Michael Winner, the direction by Bronson's multi-collaborator J. Lee Thompson is tight and focused; unfortunately, instead of the urban-tough Jimmy Page soundtrack of part two (and tacked onto three), there’s a glossy cornball saxophone score, popular in the searing/melodramatic later-1980's, thus making the film, even in the best action sequences, feel like a straight-to-video release...

Yet when Bronson ventures from (human) target to target with interesting setups and/or missions for each hit... either undercover in a factory or sneaking into a high rise penthouse leading to a final shootout in an arcade... there’s much more involved than revenge: it's an actual job this time around.

DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN with Dana Barron
DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN with Dana Barron
Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN with Perry Lopez
Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN
Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN

Dana Barron in DEATH WISH IV: THE CRACKDOWN

Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN
Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN
Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN with Kay Lenz
Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN with Dana Barron
DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN with Dana Barron
Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN

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