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Murphy's Law

Kino // R // February 8, 2022
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted February 22, 2022 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:

J. Lee Thompson and Charles Bronson made a lot of movies together and if Murphy's Law isn't the best of their many collaborations, a lot of them produced by the mighty Cannon Films, it's a damn fine cop thriller regardless.

Joan Freeman (Carrie Snodgress) has just been released from a mental hospital after spending years away from society, locked away for a murder she committed some time ago. Now that she's a free woman, her first order is business is payback. Before you know it, Ben Wilcove (Bill Henderson), an ex-cop who helped to bring her in, and a man named Kellerman (Jerome Thor), the judge who locked her away are dead. That leaves one of the other cops who had a hand in her conviction, a tough guy named Jack Murphy (Charles Bronson). She murders his ex-wife Jan (Angel Tompkins) and her current flame and makes him look like the culprit for her death, and the others.

The cops come and get him. Jack is brought in and, by the power of movie magic, is handcuffed to Arabella McGee (Kathleen Wilhoite), a young woman who was just busted for trying to jack his car. Jack, being quite upset about all of this, breaks out but with no other option he has to bring Arabella along with him. The cops figure she must be in on it and soon enough, they're on the run trying to catch Freeman and clear their names. This would be difficult under any circumstances but the fact that Jack really doesn't like mouthy Arabella makes it even tougher.

There are a lot of unnecessary plot twists here and a few rather massive logic gaps, but none of that takes away from the films' entertainment value. We don't come to a movie like this for realism, we come to it for escapism and judged on that level, Murphy's Law is pretty fun. The dynamic between Bronson and Wilhoite is frequently funny even when the movie is dealing in some decidedly dark content, and they have an interesting rapport together. He's tough, surly and stone faced in the way that Bronson is perpetually tough, surly and stone faced in so many of his picture. It's a fairly clich├ęd oil and water scenario but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to watch. Predictable as the basic idea behind it is, it works. And then there's Carrie Snodgress, an unlikely casting choice for a character that is basically a serial killer but she makes it work. She might be small in stature but she doesn't lack in screen presence. The fact that the movie has supporting roles from Lawrence Tierney, the beautiful Angel Tompkins and Bill Henderson doesn't hurt things either.

Thompson paces the movie well. It's workmanlike in its cinematography but no less effective for it. There's a gritty vibe to the movie that serves it well and the score composed for the film is pretty solid too. If tough, gritty cop thrillers are your bag, this one will cure what ails you and then some. Throw logic and common sense out the window and enjoy!

The Video:

Kino Lorber presents Murphy's Law on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 that, generally, looks really good. Taking up 33GBs of space on the 50GB disc, detail is much improved over the DVD release from a few years ago and color reproduction feels more natural here without looking tweaked or oversaturated. The film is as grainy as you'd want it to be but not to the point of detriment and aside from a few tiny white specks here and there, you won't find much in the way of actual print damage to complain about at all. Black levels are nice and solid while skin tones look nice and natural. There isn't any evidence of any noise reduction having been applied here, nor are there any issues with edge enhancement or compression artifacts.

The Audio:

The English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track on this disc is also fine. The score sounds good, the dialogue is easy to understand the levels are properly balanced. There are no issues with hiss or distortion and everything comes through cleanly and clearly. As this is an older mono mix you obviously can't really expect much in the way of channel separation or fancy surround action but for what it is, this older single channel tracks sounds just fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

The Extras:

Extras are highlighted by a commentary track that features actress Kathleen Wilhoitem moderated by Twilight Time's Nick Redman, that first appeared on the 2016 Blu-ray release from that label. This is quite an active talk, with Wilhoitem talking about what it was like on set, working alongside Bronson and Thompson and her thoughts on both her character and the film itself. She also talks about how she got into acting, some of the work that she's done on both stage and screen over the years and quite a bit more. This is an informative and interesting track that fans should certainly appreciate.

Aside from that, we also get Lyon's Law: The Cannon Years, a new interview with actor Robert F. Lyons that runs for nineteen minutes. Here the actor looks back on the time he spent working with Cannon Films, meeting Globus and Golan through his agent and why he liked working with them, working alongside Bronson for the first time and how they got along, working with directors like Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson and quite a bit more. He tells some really nice stories about Bronson here, and also goes over working with other Cannon stalwarts like Michael Dudikoff, Aaron Norris and a few others. Interesting stuff!

Finishing up the extras are a trailer for the feature, two radio spots, bonus trailers for a few other Kino Lorber (mostly) Bronson releases (Cold Sweat, Chato's Land, Mr. Majestyk, Breakhart Pass, Cabo Blanco, Assassination, The Ambassador), menus and chapter selection. This release also comes packaged with a slipcover.

Overall:Murphy's Law holds up well. It might be a bit predictable but Bronson is in fine form here, playing quite perfectly an aging man that you simply would not want to mess with! Kino brings this picture back to Blu-ray in very fine form with an excellent transfer, fine audio and a few nice extras as well. 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.

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