Erica Sheldon (Dana Barron of National Lampoon's Vacation) is a normal teenage girl and the daughter of Karen Sheldon, architect Paul Kersey's new girlfriend. Together the three of them live happily in Los Angeles, that is until one night, when out with her boyfriend, Erica dies of a drug overdose.
Kersey does some investigating on his own and starts to track down the gangsters responsible for Erica's overdose, and the drug problem that is running rampant in the city. He finds out that there are actually two rival gangs involved in the illegal narcotics trade, so he does what he can to turn the two gangs against each other. It's here that the film takes a turn into Yojimbo territory as through Kersey's doing, the gangs start killing each other off.
Of course, the police are going to get involved, and they do, though with some reluctance. Most of the cops are ok with the thugs killing each other off as it saves them from having to put any more effort into bringing them in - but Kersey's actions aren't going unnoticed.
The gritty realism of the first two films of the series and the rampant, over the top violence of the third are missing from this fourth entry in the series that Cannon films refused to put to rest. Bronson was no spring chicken when this was made and at times, he seems like he doesn't want to be there. Those moments aside though, he's entertaining as always, delivering the great tough guy dialogue we've come to expect from his most famous character.
Veteran action director J. Lee Thompson doesn't bring much of interest to the table in terms of style or visual flair. Most of the camera movements a setups are quite basic, even simplistic sometimes, but he gets the job done well enough despite a few technical goof ups (one explosion is noticeably superimposed and is obviously fake).
Even with a few strikes against it though, Death Wish 4 – The Crackdown isn't total bottom of the barrel material. It's entertaining enough if you keep your expectations lowered and the film does deliver plenty of action.
The video is presented unmated in a fullframe presentation. Video quality is only average. There are some noticeable edge enhancement problems that crop up in a few scenes as well as some print damage, though it's mild. Colors for the most part are decent, though the blacks are a little greyer looking than they should be. It would have been nice if MGM had letterboxed the movie.
The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, in English, with removable subtitles available in English, French and Spanish. Overall the audio is fine – it's never hard to follow the dialogue, there is very little noticeable in the way of hiss or distortion, and for the most part, things sound just fine.
Once again, all we're provided with as far as supplements go, is the films original theatrical trailer, and a scene selection menu. There is nothing else included on the disc.
This later entry in the Death Wish series doesn't stand up as well as the first three but it's still an entertaining b-level actioner with a solid performance from Bronson. Until a widescreen version comes along, Bronson fans will want to pick this one up. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.