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Film / Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

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Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987) is the fourth movie in the Death Wish series starring Charles Bronson.

Kersey returns to Los Angeles. The vigilante is unleashed again after the daughter of Paul Kersey's current girlfriend dies of a cocaine overdose, and her boyfriend is brutally stabbed by the pusher who sold her the coke. After gunning down the pusher, Kersey is approached by a newspaper tycoon who knows of the guy's death and wants to hire him to wipe out the drug trade by taking down two drug gangs. Kersey does what he does best and blasts both gangs to hell, but is betrayed by the tycoon, who it turns out is actually an ambitious drug dealer under a false identity who is seeking a monopoly over the local drug business and has tricked him into doing the dirty work for him. After Kersey's girlfriend is kidnapped by the Big Bad's men, the stage is set for a final showdown.

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This film provides examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: The film follows the tradition of its predecessor by being more of an action film than the urban thriller the first film was.
  • A Fistful of Rehashes: Variation — Kersey makes raids on both drug gangs to drive their leaders into meeting to try to discuss who is responsible (and thus prevent a gang war), whereupon he kills all of them.
  • Attempted Rape: In the beginning scene, a group of thugs try to sexually assault a woman in a parking lot, but Kersey appears just in time to prevent the deed.
  • Big Bad: Nathan White. Or rather, a drug lord pretending to be Nathan White.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The movie ends with Paul having killed the bastard who manipulated him into doing his dirty work, but having lost both his girlfriend—again—and her daughter in the bargain. What's especially bad is that despite the dangerous situation, it looks as though his girlfriend might make it, only to be killed off at literally the last minute. This could apply to all the films, as Paul emerges victorious, but inevitability loses someone he loves in the course of the story.
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  • Blatant Lies: When facing down a mob enforcer that he's come to kill in his apartment's kitchen, the enforcer demands to know why Kersey's in his room. Kersey's response? "I'm making a sandwich." However, this wasn't meant to fool the enforcer, just get him to pause long enough that Kersey could attack and put some distance between them.
  • Cartwright Curse / Disposable Woman: Once again, the lady in Paul's life meets a tragic end. And her daughter, too.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Kersey wakes from one of these at the beginning.
  • Dirty Cop: Phil Nozaki. He is introduced as a police detective who is investigating the vigilante case, but is later revealed to be in the pocket of drug lord Ed Zacharias.
  • Disney Villain Death: Frank Bauggs, a high-ranking gang member, faces Kerney and ends up falling from a building to his death.
  • Dream Intro: The film starts with the vigilante protagonist offing two three guys, only to discover that one of them has his face. Then he wakes up, and the implications of his dream are never brought up again.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Drugs play a big part, with cocaine singled out as poison that's killing society.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Who the fuck are you?" Mugger in the dream sequence
    • "Read my lips! Cops! Policeman! And you gonna die like she died!" Randy Viscovich
    • "All right." Vince Montono
    • "Hey I got a brother in Idaho, what city? Danny Moreno
    • "I know you, I never forget a face." Art Sanella
    • "What the hell?" Jack Stein
    • "How many what?" Max Green
    • "Now, you're gonna tell me what the fuck you're doing here!" Frank Bauggs
    • "Hey, you!" Factory Guard
    • "I can be very very nasty if I want to be." Phil Nozaki
    • "Tony!" Jack Romero
    • "Jack, it's a setup!" Tony Romero
    • "I don't even know the girl!" Ed Zacharias
    • "Fuck this." Jesse
    • "I told you...I warned you I'd kill her, I warned you I'd kil-" "Nathan White"
  • A Fistful of Rehashes: Variant: Kersey's plan of attack is to kill top members of both gangs in order to make the surviving leadership meet and discuss what to do... and so Kersey has a better shot at killing them all on one fell swoop. As mentioned in Trivia, this movie had a more straight use of this trope on an early draft.
  • Hope Spot: It appears Kersey's girlfriend might for once survive the movie... Only for her to be gunned down at literally the last minute by the fake Nathan White. This is a Death Wish movie, after all.
  • I Warned You: The fake Nathan White's last words after he kills Kersey's girlfriend, and just before he himself is killed.
    White: I told you...I warned you I'd kill her! I warned you! I'd kill her... [Paul fires a grenade which obliterates him]
  • May–December Romance: Charles Bronson (Paul Kersey) was 32 years older than Kay Lenz, who plays Paul's romantic interest Karen Sheldon.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 6, featuring a fair amount of non-spurting blood squibs and "Nathan White" (John P. Ryan) being bloodlessly incinerated by an M203 grenade.
  • More Dakka: Kersey arms himself with an M16 with an M203 for the finale.
  • No Name Given: The true identity of the fake Nathan White is never revealed.
  • Nothing Personal: Variation: Paul Zacharias is one of the drug gangs making the stuff that killed Kersey's girlfriend's daughter (because she overdosed). He never met her, he probably never even met the kid that peddled the drugs to her. It doesn't matters to Kersey — he's one of the many that deserve to die, any case.
    Ed Zacharias: Why are you doing this?
    (Kersey pulls a picture of the girl from his jacket pocket and shows it to him).
    Ed Zacharias: I don't even know the girl!
    Paul Kersey: I do. (Gives Zacharias a Coup de Grâce)
  • Parking Garage: The film opens with three guys trying to rape a woman in a parking garage, and Paul Kersey intervening in his trademark lethal fashion. It's actually a dream he's having.
  • Playing Gertrude: Kay Lenz is only 13 years older than Dana Barron, who plays her character's daughter.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Mugger: Who the fuck are you?
    Paul Kersey: Death.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Some music in the film was taken from Missing in Action and Invasion U.S.A. (1985).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The movie has Kersey going after two drug gangs after his girlfriend's daughter dies of an overdose.
  • Sequel Escalation: Zigg-Zagged. The previous film had Kersey facing a single street gang while this one has him facing three different factions of organized crime. That said, it never escalates into the urban warfare slaughter that climaxes the third film.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: The ending has this. After Kersey obliterates the fake Nathan White, a police detective named Reiner (who had been on the trail of Kersey the whole movie, especially after Kersey killed his partner, the corrupt Phil Nozaki) shows up and tells Kersey to surrender his weapon. However, the detective changes his mind and decides to let Paul go after hearing this response:
    Paul Kersey: Do whatever you have to.
  • Tempting Fate: At the end, Kersey's girlfriend gets killed, and all the fake Nathan White can say is that he warned him that he would do it. It was not a smart thing to kill Kersey's girlfriend and then rub it in his face by saying that he had warned him he would kill her. You can guess what Kersey does next.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Similar to Tempting Fate, the fake Nathan White at the end proves to be this when he kills Kersey's girlfriend, and then fails to do a good job at not getting killed by taunting Kersey by saying that he had warned him. Rubbing it in after killing Kersey's girlfriend definitely was not going to make him put the gun down, and it was even dumber to say this while not at least firing at Kersey with the machine gun that's clearly aimed at him.
    • He really should have known better; this is the guy who said perhaps the most intelligent thing about Kersey that any Death Wish antagonist ever did:
    Nathan White: As long as Kersey's breathing, he's dangerous.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Paul becomes one. He gets some much needed help in wiping two rival gangs who deal in drugs. But his benefactor turns out to be the head of a third criminal faction, to whom Kersey has unwittingly cleared up the way to take over their combined turfs.
  • Using You All Along: Kersey finds out that Nathan White wasn't a corporate executive, the person he impersonated was out of the country for several months, the man he dealt with was really the rival of the other dealers, and was basically using Kersey to eliminate the competition. Please note that this plot twist appeared earlier in The Saint in New York and The Saint Meets a Phantom.
  • Wham Line:
    Nathan White: "I've been in Europe for the last three months!"
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: A man who discovered that Kersey operated as the vigilante agrees to fund his struggle with narcotics dealers and gives him the name of someone to provide him weapons.
  • Wretched Hive: The film has a version of Los Angeles where organized crime controls the drug trade, relatively innocent youth die of overdoses, and the police features a mix of corruption and ineffectuality.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The ending, when Paul approaches the fake Nathan White, who is holding Paul's girlfriend. When White shoots at Paul, Paul's girlfriend makes a run for it, and it looks like she'll make it, only for White to shoot her in the back like a coward.


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