Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Winner's worst Wish
on 15 September 2010
After a brief spurt of competence in the late 60s and early 70s, Michael Winner's inherent laziness took over in the 80s to such a degree that Death Wish II doesn't even look like it was made by the same people who made the first Death Wish. Flat lighting, clumsy editing, a hilariously overwrought score from Jimmy Paige and a feeling that everyone got so bored during the first take they rarely bothered to go for another, even in the censored version on DVD it seems clearly aimed more at the lascivious street scum Charles Bronson polishes off than the frustrated citizens with handguns who get pushed too far (again) - Winner sure does love him a rape scene, even in a heavily censored version (in the uncensored version he almost plays it as comedy). With novelist Brian Garfield so unhappy with how the first film turned out that he refused to sell the rights to his sequel Death Sentence (later filmed as an unrelated Kevin Bacon film), Winner got round it by reworking the plot of the first film but moving the action from New York to LA (Kelsey would commute between the two cities for the subsequent sequels). Unfortunately adding the ever-insipid Jill Ireland to the mix, it still just about passes muster even if it delivers a particularly underwhelming finale, and gains some points for the scene where Bronson's vigilante and Vincent Gardenia as the cop following him find themselves both being shot at by street punks, but it's a fair bet Laurence Fishburne is deeply embarrassed by his excruciatingly stereotyped street scum. It's certainly no match for the hysterically over the top Death Wish 3.
The UK DVD and US Bluray from MGM/UA are both of the cut R-rated version, though Shout Factory's US Region A-locked special edition Blu-ray includes both that cut and the original unrated international cut with an audio commentary by Paul Talbot, author of the excellent history of the Death Wish series Bronsonýs Loose!: The Making of the Death Wish Films, trailer, TV spot and stills gallery.