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Death Wish 3 (1985) is the third movie in the Death Wish series starring Charles Bronson.

Kersey returns to New York to visit an old buddy from his days in the Korean War, only to find him dead after another attack by gang-punks. He is mistakenly arrested for the murder, but the head cop offers him a deal: reporting any gang activity to him in exchange for being able to kill all the punks he wants. Kersey moves into the buddy's old apartment, where he and his neighbors are viciously attacked by the gang, and things escalate until an all-out urban war erupts in the final fifteen minutes, leading to Charles Bronson's biggest onscreen kill count ever. It is also the movie that popularized the Wildey Survivor pistol in .475 Wildey Magnum (and saved Wildey from then-imminent bankruptcy in the process).

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It was adapted into a videogame for 8-bit microcomputers by Gremlim Graphics, resulting in a proto example of the urban free-roaming genre.


This film provides examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: The first two films feature a single vigilante against a relatively low number of opponents. In this one, Kersey faces a large gang of sociopaths and inspires other citizens to resist them. The body count is much higher and the fight escalates to urban warfare. Entire buildings are spectacularly destroyed.
    The Rageaholic: In many ways, the second Death Wish film is a remake of the first, but with the violence, brooding atmosphere and omnipresent sexual assault cranked up to eleven. But fret thee not, because by Death Wish 3 we're gonna find a way to crank that violence up to a twenty-fuckin'-eight!
  • Agony of the Feet: Paul puts a board full of nails on front of his bathroom window for burglars. It doesn't take long before one steps on it.
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  • Alan Smithee: Don Jakoby objected to extensive rewrites of his script and asked for his name to be removed from the credits. The film used the pseudonym "Michael Edmonds" to credit its screenwriter.
  • Badass Grandpa: Bronson was well in his sixties when he reprised his role as Kersey here.
  • Big Bad: Manny Fraker.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: This depiction of New York City has a large gang of sociopaths lay claim to part of the city. They steal, kill, and terrorize with relative impunity. The police are rather ineffectual in dealing with them and ordinary citizens suffer the consequences.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Paul sets a trap for some gang members using a car as bait. Later, two gang members try to steal it, one of them is black, the other one is white. When they threaten Kersey, the black one gets shot first.
  • Bulletproof Vest:
    • Near the end, the gang leader had a bulletproof vest after Kersey and Shriker empty their revolvers into him. When he points the gun at the Shriker, Paul grabs the mini bazooka and fires at him.
    • Kersey also makes a point of putting one of these on before the final battle. All of his enemies are graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, though.
  • Cartwright Curse/Disposable Woman: Poor Kathryn. Maria too.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted, with fatal results for those who try it against Kersey. When a mook hides behind a garbage can, Kersey shoots at him with his .475 Wildey Magnum (which is the most powerful semi-automatic pistol in the world, even more powerful than the Desert Eagle). The bullet goes right through the garbage can and hits the mook. Kersey puts another round into him anyway just for good measure.
  • Cool Guns: Kersey uses a Wildey Hunter, which was Bronson's personally-owned pistol in Real Life. In the climax, he uses a Browning M1919 to mow down dozens of street gang member who are terrorizing his community.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: The chief Inspector of the local police precinct gives Paul Kersey carte blanche to do whatever it takes to eliminate the criminal gang that is terrorizing the town (because crime rates overall are high enough that the police's hands are tied, and this has given the gang the idea that they have free reign to perform said terrorizing), complete with covering up for him to the press.
  • Crooks Are Better Armed: The climactic shootout has Kersey and a cop (both armed with handguns) facing off against a gang of crooks armed with black-market assault rifles and sub-machine guns.
  • Decapitated Army: When Fraker rides the rocket, the rest of the punks just stop fighting and leave.
  • Description Porn: Kersey describing his .475 Wildey Magnum to his neighbours.
    Paul Kersey: Wildey's here (opens package). Fires a .457 Wildey magnum. Real stopping power.
    Bennett: Is that like a .44 magnum?
    Paul Kersey: No, the .44 is a pistol cartridge. The .457 Wildey magnum is a shorter version of the African big game cartridge. Makes a real mess.
  • Dirty Cop: Inspector Shriker is a rare non-villainous example. When Kersey is wrongfully arrested at the beginning of the movie, he gives him carte blanche to play vigilante again. Which results in dozens of dead thugs.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: All the street gangs of New York are multiethnic.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: A more ludicrous example happens, when the car Kathryn is in slowly rolls down a hill, hits another car and they're both engulfed by huge explosions.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Look after my things until I get back." Charley
    • "No!" Hector
    • "We're stealing the fucking car, what's it to you?" Car Thief #2
    • "Now you gonna die." Car Thief #1
    • "I'll be here." Davies
    • "Bet me." Manny Fraker
  • Giggling Villain: Appropriately nicknamed "The Giggler".
  • Groin Attack: When Inspector Shriker punches Paul off his chair to the ground and charges towards him during interrogation, Paul kicks him right in the balls.
  • Hand Cannon / I Call It "Vera": "My friend Wildey is coming." Paul's friend "Wildey" (more specifically, the .475 Wildey Magnum). Currently the most powerful semiautomatic handgun in the world.
    The Rageaholic [reacting to the above quote]: Five words that could flash-freeze a blast furnace! Bronson is referring, of course, to the .475 Wildey Magnum. But you, of course, may refer to it as WHY DOES THAT HOWITZER HAVE A HANDLE AND FUCKING TRIGGER?!"
  • Hello, Attorney!: Kathryn Davis is a public defender.
  • Hope Spot: Paul and Kathryn getting together, giving him a brief moment of happiness. . .right before she's killed. As well, she briefly regains consciousness as her car rolls downhill, making the viewer think she'll be able to stop the car in time. Of course, she isn't.
  • Kick the Dog:
  • The Lopsided Arm of the Law: Demonstrated with great drama in a single scene: when gang members barge into the apartment of an old man and his wife, the man fears enough for his life that he draws a gun and intimidates the criminals into running away. Alas, an "anonymous call" informs the police that the man owns the gun (it was unlicensed) and a cop comes to take it away, disregarding the old man's flat-out pleads for help. The same gang members come back that very night to take everything that is not nailed down in the apartment.
    Gang Member (to the witnessing old folks): We'll come here whenever we want, and do whatever we want!
  • Man on Fire: Three people burn to death in during the climactic urban war between the criminals and the locals.
  • May–December Romance: Charles Bronson (Paul Kersey) was 32 years older than Deborah Raffin (Kathryn Davis).
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 7, due to the rape scene. Otherwise, the non-sexual violence is on a level 6, because of plentiful non-spurting blood squibs.
  • More Dakka: Kersey uses a .30 caliber M1919. Bennet also uses an MG-42 but the gun jams. The aftermath would have been awesome.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Bennet showcases early on that he has a .30-Caliber M1919 Browning machine gun (surplus from World War II) in his home, and later on when he gets mad at the gang raising hell right next to his home in broad daylight, he pulls out another machine gun (a German MG-42) and points it at the gang from his fire escape exit. The gang runs like hell when they notice the gun but when Bennet actually tries to shoot it, it turns out the thing is jammed. The gang notices that as well and rush him while he tries to unjam it, tossing him off the fire escape as a result.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently Kersey has been continuing his vigilante activity in various cities; Shriker reads from a file of several shootings that he believes Kersey was responsible for.
  • Oh, Crap!: Fraker's face just before Kersey obliterates him with a rocket launcher
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Played with; Fraker's well-dressed male lawyer gets him out of jail in a couple of hours. Meanwhile Kersey's good-looking public defender tries to convince Kersey to sue for being held without a charge, but he refuses (because of his secret deal with Shriker).
  • Police are Useless: It appears that the NYPD does not do that much to quell gang related violence in the city. They even confiscate guns belonging to the residents of the area terrorized by Fraker's gang. Only in the end we see them fight the bad guys, but with casualties that makes the townspeople and Kersey more effective in fighting the bad guys than them.
    • Also lampshaded by Rodriguez:
    Kersey: How about the cops? Do they do anything?
    Rodriguez: Yes, they enforce the parking laws.
    • Furthermore, very early on (and then demonstrated on the scene described on "The Lopsided Arm of the Law") it is mentioned that the police are on the lookout to confiscate any and all firearms within the neighborhood, regardless of the fact that they are licensed or not or that taking them away inevitably leaves the residents defenseless against the psychotic (and now solely armed) gangs.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Just like in Death Wish 2, Jimmy Page did the score.
  • The Quincy Punk: Fraker's gang fits this trope like a studded leather glove.
  • Rape as Drama: Maria, one of Kersey's friends, is raped and killed despite Kersey's best efforts to protect her. The bad guys also attempt to rape a woman during the shootout, but fails when Kersey kills them and saves the unnamed woman.
  • Rare Guns: Paul uses a .475 Wildey Magnum.
  • Rated M for Manly: This movie ends up as an all out war on the streets.
    The Rageaholic: (Talking about Bronson's performance in the final act of the movie) I don't give a fuck if you eat raw tiger testes and wash it down with a tall glass of rocket fuel! YOU WILL NEVER BE THIS FUCKING MANLY!
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Although Jimmy Page is credited as composer, he had no involvement with the movie. Michael Winner reused Page's score for Death Wish II in the editing stage, and rearranged the music for the actual soundtrack, which included Mike Moran (credited as "arranger and conductor") on synthesizers.
  • Retirony: As if her hooking up with Paul isn't bad enough, by the time Kathryn Davis declares her intent to quit her job as a public defender and move to a new city for a fresh start, it's obvious she's doomed.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: This movie sees the vigilante unleashed again when Kersey's old war buddy is shot by more gang punks, and intensifies when he fails to save two more women.
  • Same Language Dub: Some of the extras were dubbed over due to their British accents.
  • Sequel Escalation: This sequel has more criminals and more victims, more weapons, more violence and destruction, and a higher body count.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Paul and Kathryn kiss. . . and the next thing we see is her lying in bed, obviously post-coital.
  • Schmuck Bait: Soon after arriving to New York, Kersey buys a new car "as bait". Guess what happens to the creeps that try to steal it that same night...
    • Also, soon after his "friend" Wildey arrives, Kersey decides to go for a walk, with an expensive camera highly visible. It doesn't take long for one of the local creeps to try and steal it. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Kersey teaches the retirees how to fight back against the young hoodlums that have moved into their neighborhood.
  • Viewers Are Morons: According to the book Bronson's Loose by Paul Talbot, the original Working Title Death Wish III was changed to Death Wish 3 because The Cannon Group conducted a survey and found that nearly half of the U.S. population could not read Roman numerals.
  • Vigilante Man: According to various Noodle Incidents cited by Shriker, Kersey has committed vigilante killings in a number of cities other than New York and Los Angeles, implying that he's taken up vigilantism for its own sake rather than just acting out of revenge.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Kersey's friend Rodriguez leaves in the middle of a town-wide gunfight to reload his zip gun. He doesn't appear again. He's probably deader than a doornail.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: The movie had Paul Kersey using all manner of weapons with not a hint of explanation of where he got them or how he afforded them (remember, Kersey worked as a middle class architect, not possessing great wealth, emphasized in the next film in which he sees a mansion and says "This place alone costs more than I could make if I worked for the rest of my life"). There's not just the question of money, but also availability of some of his weapons and the legality of having them shipped directly to him (including a LAW rocket launcher, something that's never been possible to buy through mail order).
  • Wretched Hive: The series started in New York City and this film moves the action back to New York. The city seems to have further decayed in the intervening period. The 1974 original film mostly featured muggers targeting random prey. This one features a street gang systematically terrorizing an entire area.

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