Last year some modest waves were made among genre sites and trash cinephiles regarding a film starring a Charles Bronson lookalike. The film was marketed as a film in the tradition of the sleaze-filled gritty vigilante films of the 1980’s. The hype came with what appeared to be divisive reaction, either it appealed to your nostalgia bone or it looked like a cheap gimmick. The trailer got shared around for a few weeks and that seemed to be the end of it. I know a few of you upon seeing this review will have the immediate reaction of “Oh yeah, I remember hearing about that!” You’ll watch the trailer again, maybe, and move on. Maybe you’ll watch the film and satiate your curiosity, and then you’ll move on.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Rene Perez’s DEATH KISS is pretty much one of those one-and-done types of movie going experiences in that it probably doesn’t have much of a rewatchability factor. What we really have here is a very low budget vigilante thriller that involves a stranger known only as ‘K’ who brutally murders criminals and gives their money to a paralyzed girl and her single mother. There really isn’t much more to the movie than that. There are basically three types of scenes in the film; K delivering his cold-blooded brand of justice, moments of calm and peace between K and Ana (Eva Hamilton), and some blunt right wing rhetoric from radio personality portrayed by a forgotten Baldwin brother.
DEATH KISS is seemingly the second Charlesploitation film directed by Rene Perez. I was unaware that he had already directed a Bronson-esque western FROM HELL TO THE WILD WEST. Our mysterious stranger is portrayed by a Hungarian actor Robert Kovacs (a.k.a. “Robert Bronzi”). What you need to know is that he truly is an uncanny doppelganger to the late Charles Bronson in almost every way. To be blunt, this is the reason why we know about this film. Robert Perez’s filmography appears to be Asylum-level potboilers, but he may have struck some modest gold with Bronzi because as much as I did not want to like this film, I found myself drawn to see this real world phantom kill people on the screen. While this is in no way at the same caliber as the Death Wish films or 10 to Midnight, there is still enough to admire here. The film is the wrong kind of cheap, it has some lazy single-camera action work and clunky editing to go along with it. That being said, although each scene seems to telegraph the next, Bronzi is magnetic as this morally ambiguous hero. The film itself is sleazy and mean spirited, much like Bronson’s later films. This is the kind of movie where when someone gets shot, some semi-convincing CGI guts spray out. This is also the kind of movie where our ‘hero’ forces a rape victim to shoot a man so that he can trust her.
As a fan of Charles Bronson and gutter sleaze, I’m happy I’ve seen it. Is it good enough for me to see again? Probably not. That being said, Robert Bronzi seems to be moving ahead with what appears to be a Bronson-themed prison film, Escape From Death Block 13, and also in another western with Rene Perez.
I’ll get around to them when I can stream them for free. I would like to add that Bronzi is a treasure and hopefully there will be many more to come.