Charles Bronson stars as an independent hitman in this lethargic Italian lensed crime flick. In the opening scene, Bronson gets chased in his Mustang along the narrow streets of the Virgin Islands before being shot TWICE and nearly getting himself blown up, but he still somehow manages to survive. He goes to jail for blowing away his attackers but gets off using the old self defense routine and quickly goes back to the business of killing folk. After assassinating an old dude on a yacht and a race car driver (while he’s still on the track no less) Bronson learns that he had been set-up by his girlfriend (Bronson’s real life wife and frequent co-star Jill Ireland), who also happens to be crime boss Telly Savalas’ old lady. Even though she almost got him killed, Bronson still loves her and shows it by banging her on a bag of flour. Then Savalas pays Bronson off to kill her, but Chuck decides to blow away Kojack instead. When Bronson learns that she’s been playing him like a fiddle the whole time, he shoots her and her scummy boyfriend before getting mowed down by the cops.
Violent City will have enough merits for die hard Bronson fans, but for the most part, it’s pretty bad. The flick moseys along at a listless pace and things get downright boring whenever Chuck isn’t Lee Harvey Oswalding people to death. Consider the scene where he assassinates the race car driver. Sure the guy ends up turning into a ball of fire and crashing through a brick wall, but it takes FOREVER for Bronson to pull the goddamn trigger. Director Sergio Sollima pads out the scene mercilessly with endless shots of Bronson putting his rifle together before finally shooting it. It’s not suspenseful in the least and really drains the momentum out of the scene.
Bronson’s laconic performance is easily the best thing the movie has going for it. Like most Bronson movies, he speaks with a limited vocabulary (it takes him ten whole minutes before he says ANYTHING), but for the most part, he lets his sniper rifle do most of the talking. Savalas (who also co-starred in The Dirty Dozen with Chuck) is fun to watch but Ireland is merely okay as the bland love interest. At least Chuck allowed her to show off a little skin in this one.
The car chase that opens things up is quite exciting, but action wise, there is nothing else in the film that even comes close to matching it. The snappy score by Ennio (A Fistful of Dollars) Morricone helps a lot, but in the end, this is just another middling pre-Death Wish Chuck vehicle.
AKA: The Family.