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The Curator of Schlock #7 by Jeffrey Shuster

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (Drugs are Bad!)

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Death Wish 4 The Crackdown. If you think this movie title suggests drugs, you’re right! Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) is getting his life back together after the event Death Wish 3. He’s cut back to shooting only three street thugs a week as opposed to the usual five. He’s dating Karen Sheldon, a single mom who’s also a fearless reporter. Karen even has a cute, teenage daughter that Kersey comes to love as if she was his own daughter. Her name is Erica.

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Unfortunately, Erica hangs out in those video arcade parlors. Do you know who else hangs out in those video arcade parlors? Drug dealers! Drug dealers that prey on innocent children! One of these drug dealers is named Jojo and he sells drugs to Erica! About a half hour later, Erica is in the emergency room violently overdosing on cocaine. She dies as her mother and Kersey look upon the scene with horror. It doesn’t take long for Kersey to head down to the video arcade and take care of business.

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Unfortunately, drug dealers operate on a whole other level than your average street thug. They dress in plain clothes so they’re harder to spot. Instead of switchblades, these guys prefer to use guns and will shoot back at vigilantes like Kersey. Fortunately, Bronson gets off a lucky shot, sending Jojo falling on top of a bumper car cage, his body getting juiced until he’s fully cooked. Jojo is dead and the uplifting music tells us this is a good thing.

When I was watching Jojo get fried, I couldn’t help but think this was the shortest Death Wish movie ever. I was only about 13 minutes in and Kersey had gotten his revenge. But there’s more to this story. And old rich bastard by the name of Nathan White has taken an interest in Kersey’s vigilante activities. You see, Nathan White’s daughter also died from an overdose and he wants Kersey to take care of all of the drug lords and their enforcers in the greater Los Angeles area.

Unlike street thugs, the drug cartels are made of trained professionals who use actual guns. Still, Paul Kersey must have been taking espionage lessons because he’s able to infiltrate every one of their operations with ease. Kersey poses as a bartender, a Napa Valley wine salesman, and a day laborer at a fish processing plant. It’s amazing how Kersey can take on two drug cartels and get out completely unscathed. When he was taking on a few street thugs in Death Wish and Death Wish 2, he had all kinds of knife wounds, even took a bullet. Not so in Death Wish 4 The Crackdown. Kersey doesn’t get a scratch on him as he takes out the enforcers of both cartels, which consist of home video store clerks, opera aficionados, and corrupt cops.

Kersey manages to toss one man who’s the size of a linebacker crashing through a glass door, sending him careening over the 30-story balcony.

Kersey also takes out three cartel hit men in an Italian restaurant, one of whom is played by Danny Trejo. How does he kill these hit men? He blows up the restaurant! Now I know some you may have some qualms about all of the restaurant employees who got caught in the blast, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. The two drug cartels end up blaming each other for the deaths of their men and a violent shootout occurs. Kersey’s instigation tactics worked and the scene ends with the lone drug lord Ed Zacharias limping away before being executed by Kersey. It was the cocaine distributed by Zacharias that killed Emily. With Emily’s death finally avenged, Kersey can call it a day.

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Not so fast! It seems that rich old Nathan White was not rich old Nathan White after all, but another drug lord! He used Paul Kersey to eliminate his competition and with that job done, he puts a hit out on Kersey. When his goons fail to kill Kersey, the new drug lord decides to kidnap Karen and hold her hostage. When Karen manages to break free, he shoots her in the back in front of Kersey. Karen is dead, the drug lord’s machine gun is jammed, and Paul Kersey is holding a grenade launcher. We know the end of this story.

What I learned from Death Wish 4:

  1. Taking out drug cartels is easy as pie.
  2. Erotic cakes don’t taste so good.
  3.  You can find machine guns with silencers just lying around video rental stores.
  4. Drug dealers wear gold chains.
  5. Drug dealers like to overdose their customers.
  6. Charles Bronson can catch a second wind faster than Hulk Hogan.
  7. Napa Valley is beautiful and you ought to take a trip up there some time.
  8. If you have a nightmare where you shoot and kill a bunch a rapists only to find out one of the rapists is you, just ignore it. The dream means nothing.
  9. Don’t get in a drug dealer’s face and tell them you’re going to tell the police everything you know. They tend to stab you in the chest if you do that.
  10. Don’t shoot Paul Kersey’s girlfriend right in front of him when he’s holding a grenade launcher. He tends to blow you up if you do that.

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Jeffrey Shuster

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.

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