DEATH KISS-Gritty Crime Drama with a Familiar Look & Feel

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Release Details: Uncork’d Entertainment announces a digital/VOD release date of October 2nd for new action-vigilante feature DEATH KISS. With the DVD, that includes special features such as director’s commentary and the trailer, will be released December 4, 2018.

Tagline and Synopsis:

THIS OCTOBER, JUSTICE HAS A FAMILIAR FACE

DEATH KISS concerns a vigilante with a mysterious past who goes to a crime-infested city and takes the law into his own hands, at the same time protecting a young mother and her child.

My Review:

The first thing that I felt I had to do before giving this movie and its star, Robert (Bronzi) Kovacs an objective review, was to immerse myself into the Charles Bronson iconic movies, Death Wish for which Death Kiss is patterned after. I watch all five of them. Then I sat back and watched the screener for Death Kiss. I have to tell you, it was extremely hard to watch this movie and not think that some unearthly magic had been used to bring Charles Bronson back to life. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, however, my review is also about the storyline and the acting talents of Robert Kovacs beyond his uncanny resemblance to Charles Bronson. bronsonlook

Yes, the elephant in the cinematic room for Death Kiss is that its star, Robert Kovacs, is an amazing physical doppelganger for the late action star, Charles Bronson. So much so, that it is easy to just judge the movie by that look. However, it takes more than just having an actor with a physical resemblance to carry the story. It takes that actor being able to act in the part given to him. This is the main reason why I went on my binge watch of the Death Wish movies, which I hadn’t seen in years. Time can fuzz out some of the details of character, plot and story. I wanted those details fresh to be able to take an objective look at what Death Kiss was following in the footsteps of. Robert Kovacs carries it off and on a deeper level than just mere physical appearance. He projects the same sense of strength of resolve, and of barely hidden anguish that drives his character and propels him into action that was found in Jack Kersey in Death Wish.

Death Kiss, which is written and directed by Rene Perez (Playing with Dolls; Havoc), does a very credible job of harking this movie back to the days of Cannon Films/Golan/Globus type of gritty action/crime movies in which the kind of ‘take justice into his own hands’ vigilante character dominated the cinema. Perez updates the movie to add the issue of human trafficking as the thing to rail against the perceived ineffectiveness of the law enforcement, which has always been the catalyst for the vigilante character to take action. The one point, in my opinion, that Perez totally misses the mark on is that The Death Wish movies weren’t all ‘grim and grimace’. Jack Kersey, as played by Charles Bronson, smiled more in the Death Wish movies than the character of ‘K/The Stranger’ does in Death Kiss. In Death Wish, there were lighter moments that made the darker ones have far more of an impact.  Death Kiss could have used some of those types of moments.

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Death Kiss shows us lots of bad guys being blown away and K/The Stranger on a quest to take down one particular bad guy played by Richard Tyson (Kindergarten Cop). However, my one major issue with the storyline is that, to me, it feels like we the audience were asked to come in on the middle part of the movie. There is no real set up for what motivates the actions of the main character like those that were the hallmark of the Death Wish movies. The only saving grace for this strange ‘middle of the movie’ feel is that eventually we are given an explanation for one aspect of the ‘’K/The Stranger’s” actions.

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This brings us to the not quite a love interest part of the story, which is played with a muted dignity that gave Death Kiss and the character of ‘K/The Stranger’ a sense of quixotic nobility. It’s in this character difference from Jack Kersey/Bronson that Robert Kovacs shines as his own person and as an actor not just mimicking someone else. He and Eva Hamilton play well off of each other in scenes that could have come off as trite and clichéd like him teaching her how to shoot. Instead, both Hamilton and Kovacs bring a depth to it that harkens back to movies like Will Penny, The Angel and the Bad Man.

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Daniel Baldwin gives a commanding performance as the radio ‘shock jock’ that sets the background tone for Death Kiss with his diatribes about social issues he feels the police and other law enforcement are dropping the ball on. He puts power and full emotion into the speeches about his character’s convictions that he is driving home to the radio listening audience.

Death Kiss was set up at the end to imply that a sequel is coming where we see and learn more about ‘K/The Stranger’. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing it and with the hopes that Robert Kovacs will be allowed more leeway to step out of the shadow of Bronson and be more than just the man who looks like Charles Bronson. To me, he is good enough to deserve his own career for who he is as an actor.

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I give Death Kiss a rating of 5 stars.

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