Death Wish V: The Face of Death (Blu-ray Review)

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


Allan A. Goldstein

Release Date(s)

1994 (September 26, 2023)


21st Century Film Corporation/Trimark Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: B+
  • Audio Grade: B
  • Extras Grade: C

Death Wish V: The Face of Death (Blu-ray)



By the early 1990s, Cannon Films had gone bankrupt, and its co-founder, Menahem Golan, went off on his own to set up 21st Century Film Corporation. One of its few projects was the ill-fated Death Wish V: The Face of Death. It was the last of the Death Wish series until the remake of the original many years later, but it was also a disappointing vehicle for its star, Charles Bronson, who appeared in very few films thereafter.

In Death Wish V, Kersey starts over yet again under an alias, this time with a fashion designer as his love interest and her young daughter. Butting up against them is an ex-husband—an insane, controlling, and abusive mob boss who will do anything to make their lives a living hell. It isn’t long before Kersey is forced to brandish a pistol, going after the ex-husband and his thugs in due course.

Unlike the previous film, Death Wish V has more bite to it. Not only does Kersey do more than just kill his victims this time around, but he’s also into torturing them now, making it feel a little closer in tone to the original film. It’s still messy, even trying to work in humor in places where it doesn’t belong, but there’s a (more than welcome) severe lack of rape on display; although a woman is brutally harmed, she’s not attacked sexually. Charles Bronson looks lost and out place at times, but he does manage to get in a few good speeches, whereas in the previous films, he’s mostly a silent and contemplative character, usually spouting a one-liner or two.

Death Wish V: The Face of Death is an odd film, with an even odder subtitle. Despite being entertaining in places, it’s a weird end to the original series, which at least still seemed to be trying to come up with fresh approaches to tired, outdated material for its long-time star.

Death Wish V: The Face of Death was shot by cinematographer Curtis Petersen on 35mm film using Arriflex 535 cameras and spherical lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Kino Lorber Studio Classics bring the film to Blu-ray for the first time in the US with what appears to be the same master used for the Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray release, as well as Blu-ray releases from other parts of the world. Like its predecessor, it’s an older master and definitely shows its age, but it’s a touch better in terms of quality. The encode is flat and never drops much below or rises much above 40Mbps, but detail is a smidge more prominent with marginally better contrast and black levels. The color palette offers more variety than the last film, and the mild grain that’s present is fairly stable throughout. Some speckling and minor instability are the only visible damage leftover. Like Death Wish 4, it could use a fresh scan off the original camera negative for a future release, but as is, it’s very watchable.

Audio is included in English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. It definitely has a fullness to it, widening out the film’s score in the far left and far right registers. There’s also some good push for sound effects. Dialogue is fine, but there are a couple of dropouts along the way, as well as a moment when the soundtrack wobbles. Minor flaws aside, it’s clean with good support for the various elements.

The Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray of Death Wish V: The Face of Death sits in a blue Amaray case with an insert and a slipcover featuring the original theatrical poster artwork. The following extras are included:

  • Audio Commentary with Paul Talbot
  • Trailer (SD – 1:00)
  • Death Wish Trailer (HD – 2:20)
  • Death Wish 4: The Crackdown Trailer (SD – 1:34)
  • Cold Sweat Trailer (SD – 2:36)
  • Mr. Majestyk Trailer (SD – 1:33)
  • Breakout Trailer (HD – 1:34)

Like Kino’s Blu-ray of Death Wish 4, the main extra for Death Wish V is a 2018 audio commentary with Charles Bronson biographer Paul Talbot, author of Bronson’s Loose! and Bronson’s Loose Again!. As usual, 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 original script, and reads reviews for the film. 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 VHS preview and an image gallery.

Though Death Wish V: The Face of Death is likely the black sheep of the Death Wish franchise to some degree, only in that it’s far removed from the original premise, there are still some intriguing aspects about it that make it worth at least a watch. And thankfully, there’s now a US Blu-ray release of it to pick up, which has been rectified by Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

- 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.)