“Most criminals answer to the law. The world’s most savage executioner must answer to Bronson!”
Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Doctor tortures thousands; Bronson seeks the usual vengeance.
What can be said about a film that features a shuddering, sweaty, naked man before the opening credits are even finished? Fine, the man in question is being tortured, but that method of torture involves electrodes hooked up to the nipples and testicles. When we meet Bronson, he lives alone on the Cayman Islands, but his services are needed to kill a doctor who tortures political prisoners and dissidents in South America. In order to complete his mission, Bronson must “hire” a wife and child to go undercover, presumably because he would have no idea how to act in such an arrangement. Homoeroticism reaches its peak, however, when Bronson grabs the testicles of a Richard Ramirez look-alike while scanning a seedy bar. We get several close-ups of Bronson twisting and squeezing as the man screams in pain. It seemed like this scene lasted forever, which seems a bit odd unless the director assumes that his audience wants to watch Bronson massage a man’s crotch. In that same bar, Bronson flirts with a beefy, turtleneck-wearing black man who is also the Doctor’s assistant. Bronson pats the man’s hand, touches his shoulder, and makes up a story about enjoying kinky sex in order to get him to go back to his place with the woman who is acting as his wife. Later in the film, Bronson hides under a bed and, after seeing a woman’s breasts, seems to wince with disgust. Whatever the look is, it is definitely not one of pleasure. Finally, when negotiating for a ransom after kidnapping the Doctor’s sister, he asks for a nice car, a condo, and most importantly, a “hairdresser place in Aspen.” Indeed.
Only 16 deaths, which is rather sad for a Bronson flick. Still, we do get more than just routine shootings, including an exploding car (two, in fact), hangings, knifings, and a great finale where hundreds of peasants pick-axe the Doctor to death while he sits in his limo.
How Bad Is It Really?
It’s rather dull, although Bronson is a bit more playful this time out. It’s hard to take a film seriously when a native Mexican girl has no accent whatsoever and could pass for a resident of Idaho, but that’s the least of our concerns. We simply wait around for the next killing, as the story is routine, predictable, and exploitive.
Not only does Bronson keep up the streak of staying silent before and after he kills, the entire cast refuses to give us any memorable lines. This film is trying to be serious, I guess, and not a trace of humor survives.
Stupid Political Content:
Given the premise — a sadistic doctor works for assorted South American governments who wish to curb dissent and intimidate rebels through torture — it would seem that this film had the possibility of being a leftist attack against military dictatorships and the American agencies who helped them. Instead, the film avoids any political implications whatsoever and no effort is made to expose U.S. involvement in shady regimes a la Missing or Salvador. It is clear that we are meant to recoil in horror at the Doctor’s methods and sympathize with the peasants who finally kill the bastard in the end, but this is nothing more than a simple revenge tale as the man being tortured during the opening credits is a friend of Bronson’s. We get no speeches about government sponsored terror, nor do we get any insight into the social dynamics of these troubled Latin American nations. As it stands, the only reason we have a vicious, cruel doctor as a character is so that we can watch him carve and mutilate faceless Latinos. We learn nothing and are only spectators to the bloody beatings and helpless screams. Therefore, it could be argued that this film plays into the hands of the Right as it portrays South American rulers as tyrannical savages when left to their own devices. The military runs the show in these parts, but any involvement by our guys is seen as something rare, committed only by self-employed radicals. The Doctor is not ours, so what can we do? And there is the quote that any self-respecting right-winger would find agreeable: “There is only the security of the state and those who would undermine that security.” Mr. Ashcroft could not have said it any better [Ed Note: Because he is an inarticulate fascist].
The initial electrode death is rather thrilling, but nothing in the film tops the scene where Bronson knocks a guy to the floor, attaches a fire hose to his neck, and pushes him off a high rise balcony. Bronson also throws a knife across a room and into a man’s neck. Cool. And after the Doctor is whacked and pummeled by the irate peasants, his body is unrecognizable, looking more like a few hundred pounds of hamburger than a human being.
What You Learned:
To paraphrase Bronson’s character, it is easy to kill when one is not emotionally involved. That’s why we loved you, Chuck.