Streaming Releases: Death Wish Lives: Death Kiss (2018) Reviewed

The spirit of Charles Bronson's Death Wish saga lives on in the dirty little straight to video grindhouse homage, Death Kiss

Starring an actor that's a literal spitting image of Bronson himself, this flick gets the framing, the aesthetic and the nonsensical pacing down pat. The Bronson clone (Robert Kovacs) wanders slowly down alleyways, ventures into vile criminal warehouses, and visits drug addled public parks in an attempt to clear the city of crime while a retro synth score fills out the background noise. Carved by director Rene Perez, his accuracy at making something that seems like Troma teamed with Cannon Films, is spot on. Having seen all the Death Wish movies, including Eli Roth's remake, this is probably the closest we'll ever get to a true sequel to the classics. 

It's not an award winner by any means, but the entire premise behind making Death Kiss is quite an anomaly in itself. It's basically the tribute band of movies. It's got the look, the feel, and the legendary cold cocked swagger of Bronson, delivering a bevy of top hits to a nostalgia seeking audience that misses their favorite band. Even his physicality and movements on screen mirror the long dead movie star. Being that the most annoying part of his character is the overdubbed voice, Kovacs packs a wallop as a card carrying member of the bad ass club. He's not a trained actor in the slightest, but he's great at copping the Bronson mannerisms and weighty physicality. 

Split between a radio host's (Daniel Baldwin) ramblings about the current state of the world and a gun wielding man with a mustache, this is basically a fan service orgy that never stops. Getting that old school tone from a totally digital movie must have been hard. The filming style is exactly like the original Death Wish movies with edits that call back to simpler times at the cinema. There are no hyper edits with the camera work getting some minor '80s style embellishments. Although the moments of exploding flesh are noticeably all computer generated and the rape scene (of course there's rape) feels a bit heavy handed right now, Death Kiss is exactly what it's meant to be. It's not high art by any means. 

Based on a nearly missing plot that sees human lives eliminated in that over the top Reagan era style, it's easy to dismiss this as total trash. In most ways, it is. But so were the later Death Wish films. Death Kiss is so god damned fun, it's hard to bash on what they've created here. With literally no budget, this teeny tiny, hour and twenty minute vengeance piece does exactly what it sets out to do. It feeds a hungry audience something they haven't seen in years. And they've got Richard Tyson playing a horrendous villain that will go to any lengths to torture, smash, murder and destroy humans with no thought whatsoever. 

With a bigger budget and better actors in supporting roles, it would be interesting to see what they could do with a part two. Bring on Death Kiss 2. I'll be there, packing imaginary heat and killing cracked out punks. If you can dismiss all the obvious flaws about this celebration of Bronson, you have no reason not to give this some of your time. It's really bad. But, it's oh so very good.