Reel Toronto: Death Wish 5—The Face of Death
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Reel Toronto: Death Wish 5—The Face of Death

This is more like it. If you’re not going to get a good movie, at least you can get a kick-ass Charles Bronson movie! Behold Death Wish 5: The Face of Death. If we lived in the Simpsons-verse, this would be more appropriately subtitled “The Deathening.”

To truly appreciate the wonders of the ass-kicking contained herein, it helps to know a bit about Golan-Globus Films. The short version is that it’s a couple of Israeli guys who made a lot of bank in the ’80s and ’90s producing cheap movies that involved guns and boobs (Death Wish 5 has a lot of the former and just a few of the latter, on principle). They went under, but one of the partners managed to spit out this flick, somehow. It’s set in New York, but these guys ain’t exactly on a spending spree.

Here we go…

We know the most important thing is location, location, location, but dig the Murderers’ Row of character actors on display! The main baddie is the always-awesome Michael Parks.

Here, he’s flanked by a central-casting goombah we don’t know (no offence, dude, but a toothpick?) and Chuck Shamata, who has been in a kajillion things.

Also, there are two cops played by Saul Rubinek and Miguel Sandoval (you: “Oh yeah, that guy!”)…

..and a good cop played by Reel Toronto honorary hero Kenneth Welsh.

This movie is so effing groovy, Rubinek even gets a special shout-out in the credits! Go, Saul! Go, Saul!, Go, Saul! It’s your birthday!

Where were we? Right, so, it’s set in New York, eh? Obviously.

The bad guys operate out of this warehouse place in the fashion district. The streetscape is one of the more frequently seen locations and this here is little ol’ Sheppard Street, which, thanks to its narrowness and dead-ending, does a lot of work as “New York street” in Hollywood productions.

Here’s another famous, narrow, not-quite-NYC street, Colborne Street.

This shoot-out is down at the east end of the street

…and just a few doors down, at #42, this poor SOB…

…goes through the window of what’s now Bulloch Tailors. (Could be worse. You should see what Michael Parks wanted to do to him with that jigsaw!)

Here’s a tip, B-movie producers: If you want to make a Toronto street look like New York, by all means, put a US Postal Service box there. But, for the love of God, take the time to remove the Canada Post box right beside it!

You can see some of the side of the King Eddie here.

Amusingly, there is a store with this name in Toronto, but it was a dead end, research-wise…

…but this reverse shot shows we’re at Peter and Spadina (the sewing shop is now a Pizzaville).

CORRECTION, 3:37 PM: The ex–sewing shop (and current Pizzaville) is in fact at Peter and Richmond.

That means Ms. Emma’s is now Light Lounge, unless Adam Vaughan has chased it away since Googlemaps visited.

Our keen psychic abilities tell us this might be the Balfour Building on Spadina.

Sometimes you get a softball, folks. Might this be under the ol’ Gardiner Expressway?

The City claims part of the movie was shot at Metro United Church, but we’re not certain that’s where this is.

Here’s some bad dudes waiting outside Victoria College…

…on Charles Street.

In this reverse shot you can rather clearly see the ROM and the McLaughlin Planetarium.

Speaking of U of T, this is supposed to be inside a courthouse, but it’s actually Knox College.

This looks like it could be some fancy jazz joint…

…but then we pan over to see it’s a fancy restaurant. It’s gone now, sadly, but this is actually Winston’s, which used to be The Place To Be in old T.O.

It’s only because we’ve Google-walked most of Toronto at this point that we recognized this street, where Bronson and his ladyfriend kick it in a townhouse, as Walmer Street, near Casa Loma.

The first Death Wish was something of a classic in the fascist-urban-vigilante genre. By #5, however, we’ve devolved into something rather cartoonish. But the good news is you get people dying in very creative ways: flying through windows, getting dissolved in acid pools, flying up against electrified fences. You get the idea.

Probably the most depressing thing about director Allan A. Garfield’s filmography is that he previously managed to squeeze in the rather lovely CanCon flick The Outside Chance of Maxmillian Glick (which, by the way, also stars Saul Rubinek).

If you asked Will Smith whether this was a classic film, he’d say, “Aw, hell naw!” and he’d be right. But Globus-Golan is an important part of our culture, ladies and gentlemen. They made everything from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogalooo to Cobra (in which a man threatens to blow up a store and cop Sly Stallone replies, “Go ahead, I don’t shop here”). So pardon us if we think it’s special that Toronto got to share in just a little slice of that delicious cinematic pie.

No, Charles Bronson, Allan A. Garfield, and Menahem Golan. Thank you.