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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.

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.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Zacharias's lieutenant, Nick Franco, manages to survive the shootout Kersey engineers and later shows up working for the fake Nathan, but it is unrevealed if he was working with Nathan to take out his competitors from the start or merely decided to Kneel Before Zod when Nathan took over the remnants of the organization.
  • 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: Probably the most bittersweet of the series. The movie ends with Paul having killed the bastard who manipulated him into doing his dirty work, wiping out most of the Los Angeles mob and drug trade, 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. Paul then walks away into the night dejectedly, not caring if Detective Reiner kills him or not.
  • 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.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Kersey does this to the fake policemen by asking if they're from Sunset PD, something he made up.
  • 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.
  • Destination Defenestration: Bauggs' fate, from being shoved through his penthouse window by Kersey before falling several stories and landing on a car.
  • Dirty Cop: Phil Nozaki. He is introduced as a detective 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 Kersey and ends up falling from a building to his death.
  • Dream Intro: The film opens on its vigilante protagonist dispatching three rapists, only to discover one of them has his face. Then he wakes up, and the implications of this dream are never brought up again.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Drugs play a big part, with cocaine singled out as poison that's killing society.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Played with. Nathan White comes off as a calm and respectable millionaire talking in measured tones whenever he meets Kersey. When it's revealed it's an imposter, we see him dressed more casually and dropping all pretense of an "upscale" guy for the nasty, street-level mobster he really is.
  • 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. 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 despite losing her daughter... 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 kil—! [Paul fires a M203 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.
  • 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 the daughter of Kersey's girlfriend (due to an overdose). 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.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Mugger: Who the fuck are you?
    Paul Kersey: Death.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Some of the tracks used in the film were taken from fellow The Cannon Group productions 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 full scale urban warfare that the third film's climax did.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Jack and Tony Romero. Tony is a violent hothead while Jack is more reserved and prone to thought.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: The ending has this. After Kersey obliterates the fake Nathan White, a 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:
  • Tempting Fate:
  • 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 in regards to Kersey that any Death Wish antagonist ever did, that "as long as Kersey's breathing, he's dangerous." And had the fake Nathan White not tried to depose of Kersey (poorly) after using him to kill his rivals, it's likely Kersey would have never found out about his real identity.
  • 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 discovers 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 using Kersey to eliminate his competition.
  • 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 shows a Los Angeles where organized crime controls the drug trade, innocent youths die of overdoses, and a police force that's either too corrupt, or too incompetent to do anything about it.
  • 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.