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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Death Wish - 40th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael Winner, 1974)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Dino De Laurentiis Company

Video: Paramount

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:33:26.225

Disc Size: 21,820,243,944 bytes

Feature Size: 21,288,416,064 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.55 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 3rd, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1716 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1716 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Theatrical trailer (2:26)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: In this explosive story of revenge and urban violence, Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a bleeding-heart liberal who has a change of opinion after his wife and daughter are violently attacked by a gang of thugs in their apartment. His daughter is raped, and his wife is raped and murdered. Bronson then turns vigilante as he stalks the mean streets of New York on the prowl for muggers, hoodlums and the like. Death Wish is a violent, controversial film that is frank and original in its treatment of urban crime and the average citizen's helplessness in dealing with it. Herbie Hancock wrote the musical score. And watch for a young Jeff Goldblum in his film debut as one of the thugs.

 

 

The Film:

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, leaving her comatose. When the police are unable to find the culprits, Kersey arms himself and begins patrolling the streets, killing muggers and thieves as he encounters them. While his obsessive search for street justice sickens him at first, in time Kersey begins to enjoy it and becomes a hunted man himself, as Police Detective Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) tries to find the man who is doing the police's job for them, and a bit too well. Jeff Goldblum made his screen debut as one of the lunatics who attacks Joanna.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Paul Kersey is a bleeding-heart liberal architect who’s enjoyed life to the fullest. He has a beautiful wife, Joanna (Hope Lange), and a daughter Carol (Kathleen Tolan) married to a high society guy. But soon things would go horribly wrong one day, since a gang of punks, disguised as shopping market delivery boys, manage to break into the house and kill Joanna and rape Carol. All in one day, Paul’s life is torn apart. Seeking desperately for peace of mind, Paul travels for a company landscape survey in Arizona, where a friend of his introduces him to guns (or reintroduces him), and as soon as he returns in New York, little by little, his inner fury is suddenly blown into vengeance against crime in general and turns into a Vigilante, which causes a huge stir in the streets, amongst the police, the criminals, and people in general.

Excerpt from eCritic located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Death Wish finally arrives on on Blu-ray from Paramount after, the vastly inferior, parts 2 through 5 are already available in 1080P. The image quality looks splendid.  This is only single-layered but detail advances well beyond the previous SD versions. Colors are brighter and truer and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. There is depth and sharpness in the close-ups. There are plenty of night scenes but only a hint of noise. This 1.78:1 Blu-ray has a very consistent and clean appearance. It looks significantly better than I anticipated - thumbs up!

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Paramount transfer the audio via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1716 kbps. It sounds clean and the gunplay has some punchy kick. A bit surprisingly (to me) Herbie Hancock did the score for Death Wish - as he also did, notably, for Antonioni's Blow-up, A Soldier's Story and 'Round Midnight. I found the score to have more of an impact or perhaps it was simply more crisp with greater depth than my old SD. The lossless transfer may have pushed it more to the forefront. There are optional subtitles and being Paramount my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Only a trailer - a shame because I'd love to hear some discussion on the film from the participants and their opinion on the cult-like status it has attained. Bronson, of course, is now passed but something on him would have seemed appropriate as so many associate him with the role of Paul Kersey.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
There is no denying the strong fan appeal of the vigilante film... or how they surface every few years. Many Hollywood audiences consider Death Wish as the pioneer to this sub-genre. While they certainly aren't correct - it did define itself and is a highly memorable film experience tapping into the viewer's sense of justice - and benefit society on a grassroots level without the trappings of a flawed legal system and extensive bureaucracy. Paul Kersey's executions are harsh and while outwardly 'we' may condemn him - deep inside a voice envies his courage and applauds his actions - using the medium of film to build an unspoken fantasy elevating the common man to a crime-fighter. It remains a classic for many reasons and this Blu-ray provides the best presentation that I've yet seen for home theater consumption. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 14th, 2014

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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