Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jul 03, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
  • Bookmark and Share
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (Blu-ray Review)


J. Lee Thompson

Release Date(s)

1987 (September 26, 2023)


Cannon Films (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: B
  • Audio Grade: B
  • Extras Grade: C

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (Blu-ray)



The Death Wish series had begun its downhill turn after the release of the third film, and by that time, the series had become a bit of a joke to the moviegoing public. However, being one of the crown jewels in the Cannon Films library, there was no stopping them from making more. And in 1987, they did just that with Death Wish 4: The Crackdown. Struggling to make its money back at the box office, they abandoned the series and the company went bankrupt in the early 1990s.

Death Wish 4 picks up with Paul Kersey, yet again, trying to settle down, but he soon goes back to his old habits when his girlfriend’s daughter overdoses on cocaine. Aided by a wealthy man who also wishes to get back at the dealers who killed his daughter with drugs as well, he supplies Kersey with all of the information and weaponry he needs in order to plot two rival gangs against each other, but with a pair of eager police detectives hot on his trail.

Due to the unnecessary and over-the-top violence of the previous films, mostly towards women, Death Wish 4 was obviously toned down to a significant degree. It features only one attempted rape, but doesn’t go nearly as far as anything we’ve seen previously, an aspect of which has always been a problem for me personally when it comes to the first two films especially. However, squibs and frequent exchanges of gunfire are in full effect, as well as a spectacular conclusion featuring the use of a rocket launcher. It’s also nice that Kersey is going after drug dealers for a change and not just pandemonious street gangs.

Not everything about Death Wish 4 is solid though. It starts off on the wrong foot as during the opening we’re led to believe that Kersey is haunted by his past after waking up from a nightmare. It’s the only time that this notion is ever put forward, and it’s quickly abandoned thereafter. It’s certainly something that could have been explored even further and given at least one of these sequels a bit more depth. There’s also the possibility of a cop gone rogue to get revenge against Kersey, which is also an interesting idea, but it too goes nowhere. The rest of the film is the fairly standard, gun-toting vigilantism that the Death Wish series has become known for.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown was shot by cinematographer Gideon Porath on 35mm film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Kino Lorber Studio Classics bring the film to Blu-ray for a second time in the US with what appears to be same master used for the 2012 MGM Blu-ray and Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray releases. It definitely shows its age, carrying a fairly flat encode that almost never drops much below or rises much above 40Mbps. This at least improves upon previous Blu-ray releases, meaning that you’re at least getting the maximum amount of data in the image. The color palette is serviceable, but contrast is sometimes poor with weak blacks and minor speckling. However, everything is fairly sharp with a nice steady sheen of grain, and the frame appears stable throughout. It could definitely use a fresh scan in the future, but it’s far from unwatchable.

Audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. It’s a surprisingly strong single channel track, with sound effects that carry more weight than one might expect. Dialogue is mostly clear and precise, and the overall track is clean.

The Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray of Death Wish 4: The Crackdown sits in a blue Amaray case sporting the original theatrical poster artwork on the insert and the German theatrical poster artwork on the slipcover, but with the English language title. The following extras are included:

  • Audio Commentary with Paul Talbot
  • Trailer (SD – 1:34)
  • Death Wish Trailer (HD – 2:20)
  • Death Wish V: The Face of Death Trailer (SD – 1:00)
  • The White Buffalo Trailer (HD – 1:52)
  • Murphy’s Law Trailer (SD – 1:30)
  • Assassination Trailer (HD – 1:58)

The main extra is a 2018 audio commentary with Charles Bronson biographer Paul Talbot, author of Bronson’s Loose! and Bronson’s Loose Again!. He’s very screen specific and explains what’s happening as the scenes play out, but he also provides varying amounts of information about specific moments in the film, gives career overviews of the cast and crew, points out differences in the script, and discusses what was trimmed in order to secure an R-rating. The rest of the extras consist of the film’s trailer and trailers for other Kino Lorber-related releases. Not included from the Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray is a TV spot, a TV broadcast promo, a VHS preview, and an image gallery.

The Death Wish series is seemingly all over the place in terms of quality, though it was arguably straight exploitation to begin with, despite its literary source. Death Wish 4: The Crackdown comes near the end of Charles Bronson’s career, but it still offers some interesting touches and tones down the violence against women just enough to make it a little more palatable.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)