Monday, November 30, 2009

'Death Rage' is a film to remain calm about

Death Rage (aka "Anger In His Eyes") (1976)
Starring: Yul Brynner, Martin Balsam, Barbara Bouchet, and Massimo Ranieri
Director: Anthony M. Dawson
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A New York hitman (Brynner) suffering from intermittent hysterical blindness travels to Italy in order to assassinate the Mafia boss who murdered his brother. On his way to hit, he's in car-chases and running gunbattles, meets the love of his life (Bouchet), outsmarts a police inspector (Balsam), and finds himself a loyal apprentice hitman (Ranieri) to whom he can pass along his "wisdom".

"Death Rage" is a slightly chaotic crime drama with a heavy emphasis on the drama. I don't think I've seen so many seasoned actors seemingly playing to the back rows of the local community theater auditorium... and I'm astonished that Yul Brynner didn't burst something while working on this film; I don't think such consistent and dedicated overacting has been recorded anywhere else in the annals of film history.

Perhaps the actors are all laboring so mightily because they are trying to compensate for the fact that there isn't a character in this movie who wasn't a tired cliche even before the 1970s dawned, and that they realize the script really brings nothing new or innovative to crime dramas or mob movies.

This film isn't exactly bad... just bland and generic. I thnk lovers of All Things Mafia might get a kick out of it. Similarly, those who haven't seen many films of the "gun-slinger takes on one last job" sub-genre might enjoy it. The rest of us, though, can probably safely skip this one.

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