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Death Wish II: Bronson’s Loose Again… on 4K!

Feature Presentations: Episode 15

Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on the Vinegar Syndrome release of Death Wish II.

The 5 gang members standing together looking to the camera.

Right off the bat, I despise the films of Charles Bronson more than any other actor. Since I was a little kid, his acting never clicked with me and has only been solidified as I’ve grown older. I have no gripe with Charles Bronson, the man, but his acting style rubs me the wrong way. It’s only fair that I am forthcoming with you when discussing a Charles Bronson film.

So, when Vinegar Syndrome announced their April 2022 package, headlined by Death Wish II, any and all enthusiasm I had for this month went into the toilet. I won’t detail the rest of the April announcements, as I will get to those in separate articles, but I was not looking forward to checking out what Vinegar Syndrome had in store for the first Death Wish sequel.

It has been many years since I saw any Death Wish film that isn’t Part 3. From my earlier statements, you can assume my physical media library isn’t wall-to-wall with Bronson films. Whether or not I wanted it, Death Wish II arrived on my doorstep. Is it the worst Bronson has to offer? No, far from it. It doesn’t mean that it’s good either.

As a quick rundown, many years have passed since the original, and Paul Kersey has moved to Los Angeles. Crime runs rampant, and it’s only a matter of time before Paul and his loved ones run afoul among Los Angeles’ worst. Like clockwork, Paul picks up his gun and takes to the streets to avenge those who wronged him and his family.

Yes, Death Wish II is the same film as the original, now set in sunny California! There are slight differences in the story, but each entry in the well-worn franchise plays out the same. If you like one, the odds are in your favor that you’ll like them all. Personally, I don’t hate Death Wish II—it’s fine; there’s worse revenge thrillers. 

As is the case when reviewing Vinegar Syndrome releases, the first item to take notice of is the slipcover. Death Wish II comes housed in a black cover with a shot of Paul aiming his gun on the front and the text, “Bronson’s Loose Again,” on the back. It’s a simple-looking cover that utilizes the film’s theatrical poster.

The Blu-ray case comes with a double-sided reversible sleeve featuring the same art as the slipcover—the opposite side featuring different artwork that uses an alternate theatrical poster design.

Geri and Carol stand outside, looking at a glass cat figurine.

The package comes with two discs, one 4K UHD and a Blu-ray disc. On the 4K disc, you get the feature film and a commentary track from author and historian Paul Talbot. Talbot has authored multiple books about Charles Bronson and is a welcome voice if you love the man or Death Wish II. I’m not a fan of either, but I did enjoy the facts and tidbits Talbot dispensed throughout this informative track. Talbot’s tone might turn some listeners away with a measured and academic approach to the commentary, but there’s no one better to discuss Death Wish II than Paul Talbot.

On the Blu-ray disc, we get to the rest of the disc’s supplements. Talbot’s commentary gets ported over to the Blu-ray, plus we get a handful of short interviews. The first interview, “Pass,” finds screenwriter David Engelbach discussing how he became involved with the production. Engelbach talks about the original draft and the differences between that and the shooting script.

Next, we have actor Robert F. Lyons speaking about the set of Death Wish II on “Working with Bronson.” Lyons offers his thoughts on Charles Bronson and both men’s approaches to acting. We then have “Dark Parts,” which finds actress Robin Sherwood detailing her role as Carol Kersey. Carol talks about the difficulties with her role and shares her thoughts about working with Charles Bronson.

The last interview on the disc, “Fights in the Theater,” comes from Todd Roberts, the son of executive producer Bobby Roberts. Robert talks about the changing times between the first and second films culturally and in the film’s tones.

It may have seemed like I breezed through these interviews, and I did that for a reason. None of the interviews run longer than ten minutes and left this writer supremely disappointed. I know I spent the first part of this article talking about my dislike of Bronson, but understanding the filmmaking mechanics is a topic that interests me. Each interviewee offers a unique perspective worth discussing, but none dig deep to provide compelling interviews. The lack of depth in these interviews left me displeased and frustrated. Maybe I shouldn’t be frustrated with lackluster bonus features for a film that doesn’t appeal to me? Just because the film doesn’t appeal to me, doesn’t mean I’m not interested in what went on behind the scenes. As a physical media collector interested in all aspects of a disc, these interviews are substandard, in my opinion.

Lastly, and most significantly, Vinegar Syndrome included the alternate TV version of Death Wish II in a new 2K scan. I know fans of the Death Wish franchise are plentiful, and having an alternate cut will satisfy those who journey with Paul Kersey across the five-film franchise. Anytime an alternate version of a film is included, it is welcome. If I enjoyed Death Wish II more than I do, this would be a cause for celebration. Either way, I applaud Vinegar Syndrome for the inclusion, and touching it up with a 2K scan is an added bonus!

Vinegar Syndrome rounds out the package with the original theatrical trailer on the Blu-ray disc.

Paul sitting in a bus, holding a newspaper.

And, there you have it! Fans of Death Wish II can rejoice that Vinegar Syndrome has taken care of the film with a 4K UHD scan. Even if the extras are somewhat lacking with only a handful of short interviews, the inclusion of the alternate TV cut in 2K along with the 4K UHD version of the theatrical version should quench the thirst for those following Paul Kersey’s cinematic vengeance.

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a lifelong cinephile and has had an admiration with film for as long as he can remember. When he's not checking out the most recent theatrical release, viewing a movie on one of a 1,000,000,000 streaming services or picking up the latest physical media disc, he's trying and failing to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He also has a weird fascination with Stephen Dorff. Make of that what you will. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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