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Total Crap: 5%

1 review, 14 user ratings

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Evil That Men Do, The
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by Jack Sommersby

"Charles Bronson's Best Performance and Film"
5 stars

I snuck into this film when I was 14, and it was one of the best filmgoing experiences I've ever had. And the film has only gotten better as the years have passed, especially in a day and age of cookie-cutter directors who don't know the first thing about tension and excitement.

Charles Bronson gives his very best performance as a man known only by the name of Holland, an ex-top-echelon hit man lured out of retirement in the Cayman Islands to take out a vicious British political torturer known as The Doctor. This merciless, well-dressed fiend has been teaching his long-honed trade to generals in South American countries (twenty, to be exact), and as the film opens, we see him slowly electrocute a naked man to death in front of a captive audience of corrupt officials in Guatemala; the man, it turns out, was an American journalist and also a former friend of Holland's -- at the urging of a mutual acquaintance, a conscience-stricken Holland agrees to avenge the man's death. But it won't be easy: due to protests from human-rights advocates, the Doctor is being pressured to go into hiding; and the American embassy, which has employed his services in the past, plans on getting him to safety. Holland, accompanied by the dead man's widow and child posing as a vacationing family, slowly but surely starts taking out each of the Doctor's bodyguards in an attempt to smoke him out ("I'm gonna rattle his cage, and when he sticks his neck out I'll nail him."), which leads to a highly-satisfying, tension-filled finale at an abandoned silver mine where former disfigured victims of the Doctor's come into play.

This being a Bronson star vehicle, the film expectedly lacks the moral complexities of R. Lance Hill's fine same-title novel, but the screenplay is more than adequate as these things go, and Bronson does some spectacular underplaying as the mysterious Holland. He's vivid and forceful, alright, but he also puts some welcome ironic spin into his interpretation with Holland casually carrying himself as someone so self-assured and good at what does that he needn't go in for a lot of blow-hard, two-fisted macho posturings to get the job done -- when he slugs someone unconscious or casually dispatches a throwing knife into an enemy's throat, it's with the gracefulness of a ballerina doing a pirouette. Bronson's simply fascinating to watch. And hurtling everything forth with uncommon narrative velocity is veteran director J. Lee Thompson (Cape Fear), who stages the action sequences with finesse and wrings maximum suspense even in a scene where a stabbed but still-armed man crawls toward Holland in the narrow confines of a hotel bathroom; he also makes the most of the beautiful shooting locations in and around Mexico without going National Geographic on us. The film is exceedingly violent, yes, and unpleasant for the most part, too, but it's adult entertainment that's refreshingly devoid of a contrived love interest (which is good since co-star Theresa Saldana is stiff as an ironing board) and any obtrusive moralizing (when he's questioned as to his amoral profession, Holland simply answers that he looks at it a different way than most). It's hard-driving entertainment that plays out like gangbusters and qualifies as a small masterpiece of unbridled excitement. One of 1984's ten-best films.

How about a special-edition DVD for this unheralded classic instead of the bare-bones, barely-adequate DVD that's out now?

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originally posted: 06/03/06 06:07:30
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User Comments

6/30/14 Simon Gillham Joseph Maher is great as the evil doctor! 5 stars
9/26/11 action movie fan good revenge film with startling killing in climax 4 stars
5/23/11 Braddock Brilliant movie 10/10 5 stars
2/20/11 Durwood Loved the SQUEEZE PLAY on the creep in the bar--I bet that jerk couldn't piss for a week! 4 stars
5/09/07 leahiteh This film reminds one of the evil of torture 5 stars
4/07/07 Rogerio Barbosa Great Movie ! Charles Bronson Rules ! 5 stars
1/21/07 David A. Good action film. Bronson squeezes a guy where it counts for about five minutes! 4 stars
8/24/06 Jakey This entire page has *got* to be joking. 1 stars
6/04/06 michael Charles Bronson's fan will love this 4 stars
6/04/06 George_Chabot Jack did this one up proud. Congratulations, bud! ;> 5 stars
6/03/06 San Lamar couldnt take my eyes off of the screen 5 stars
9/07/04 Sugarfoot Without a doubt Bronson's best from the 1980's. A very hard hitting movie. 4 stars
4/03/04 john Bronson elevates an average thriller to good entertainment 4 stars
2/25/04 Jack Sommersby Bronson's sensational in this sensational action film. A career-best. 5 stars
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  14-Sep-1984 (R)



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