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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Charlie's Death Wish
Charlie's Death Wish
Go Kart Films // Unrated // March 10, 2005
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted May 9, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

The first thing you'll notice when you pick up a copy of Jeff Leroy's Charlie's Death Wish is a big ol' picture of Ron Jeremy on the front cover art. If you look a little closer, you'll also notice Lemmy of Motorhead on there too, standing on the left next to the hot chick who plays the lead. You'd think that the combination of Lemmy and the Hedgehog would be a winner, wouldn't you? They've both got their own kind of special charm and while neither have a reputation for delivering Oscar worth performances, they've been fun in the bit parts they've had in mainstream cinema every now and then, adding a little bit of class to films like Troma's finest moment, Citizen Toxie. Throw in Tracii Guns of L.A. glam rock band L.A. Guns and Dizzy Reed formerly of Guns N Roses and a couple of hot girls, and all of a sudden this starts to smell like a recipe for success, at least in b-movie terms.

The story follows a stripper named Charlie (Phoebe Dollar) who, when she finds out about the murder of her sister, decides to wage a one woman war on the gangsters and the cops responsible. Against insurmountable odds she blasts and slashes her way through the culprits to get revenge, and the only friend she has in the entire world is a loner cop (played by Ron Jeremy) who feels sorry for her and lets her get away with it all when he probably should be bringing her in and locking her up. She carves herself a blood path through the Los Angeles underworld, but will it be enough and will she make it out alive?

Lead actress Phoebe Dollar has been in a string of low budget productions such as the recent Ted Bundy biopic and the straight to video mess that was Goth. She's not a horrible actress, and she's certainly easy on the eyes, but here her character lakes the charisma to really carry the film. When you don't have enough money to really hire A list talent to carry your film you've got to make sure that the characters are at least interesting enough to make the viewer want to find out what happens to them and herein lies Charlie's Death Wish's biggest flaw. It's not that Dollar can't handle the part – she's no worse than most actresses in low budget filmmaking and maybe even a little better than average – but you just don't really know enough about her character's background to care. Yeah, fine – she wants revenge for her sister's death and that's all well and good but this type of thing has been done over and over and over again and quite frankly, it's been done better and with more originality than it has here.

Charlie's Death Wish does get a few things right though. When you take into account that it wasn't made with a lot of money the action scenes turned out quite nicely, a testament to the fact that Leroy does have some skill behind the camera. The cinematography is a lot better than most movies of the same ilk, and the movie looks reasonable polished and is quite well edited. During the shoot outs the fact that the guns are using canned sound effects quickly becomes obvious but overall, the shoot outs work well in the context of the movie.

Ron Jeremy is fun in the lead, sometimes a little hammy, sometimes a little too melancholy but he's always Ron and Ron is always interesting. Lemmy's cameo is pretty brief and he more or less plays himself, sitting in the corner of a strip club watching the dancer on stage. He does get involved in some of the action in the film but really doesn't have much to do in the movie aside from hang out and be Lemmy – it's enough to make his scene fun, but again, not enough to hang a film on.

A little more originality and a little more attention to the characters and this could have been a fun little time killer. It does have a quirky cast, a pretty female lead, and a decent look and feel to it, but when you don't care what happens to the characters, you don't really care what happens in the movie and though I wanted to like this one, it just didn't pan out that way.

The DVD

Video:

The 1.33.1 fullframe image on this DVD looks quite good for a production that was shot on a low budget and on video. Sometimes the black levels are a little off in that they look closer to a dark gray than a true black. There aren't any real problems with mpeg compression and edge enhancement is minor. The filmmakers obviously put some effort into lighting the film properly and it does help things quite a bit that the cinematography is pretty decent too. There aren't any problems with print damage though some of the colors do look kind of soft in spots – such is the nature of shot on video productions sometimes.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is sufficient. Sometimes the dialogue sounds rather hollow and a bit flat but even when it does, you can always make out what's being said. The soundtrack comes through a little bit on the loud side here and there but it doesn't over power the characters in the film or the sound effects. There are no alternate language dubs or subtitles available on this DVD, nor is there a closed captioning option.

Extras:

In the extra features section you'll find a few outtakes that total about seven and a half minutes, primarily from the TV broadcast scene. They're kind of amusing and worth watching once. There's also a behind the scenes featurette that is just under seven minutes long and is a bunch of raw footage that shows how the miniature work was done for the ending of the movie.

A trailer/preview for Charlie's Death Wish is also included.

Final Thoughts:

You'd think a movie with Ron Jeremy, Lemmy, and Tracii Guns would be a surefire hit, budget or not, but Charlie's Death Wish, despite some obvious effort on the part of those involved in the production, just didn't have what it took to get my goat. It has a few fun moments and would be worth a rental for hardcore fans of the cult star cast members, everyone else would be best served by skipping this one.

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.

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