The Evil That Men Do

The Evil That Men Do


Reviewed by: Merlin Harries

There were days gone by when kids used to argue over who would win a fight between Charles Bronson and Superman. Needless to say the Man of Steel turned to jelly and fled back to his fortress of solitude with his cape between his legs. The infamous Death Wish series in which Bronson starred was influential in creating a genre for all-out-action and violence that would later see films such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon become global phenomenon. The violence was so graphic that it caused controversy among cinema audiences who were shocked at the nonchalance and frequency with which Bronson dispatched his enemies. Needless to say that The Evil That Men Do is no exception as Bronson takes on the role of retired hitman Holland.

The breadth of Bronson’s work included iconic films like The Magnificent Seven and Once Upon A Time In The West but, sadly, he was destined to follow the formula of Michael Winner’s Death Wish movies into the twilight of his career. As an actor Bronson had great range but the only tools required for The Evil That Men Do are a stoic quest for vengeance and a ludicrously high-calibre handgun. The rather mono-syllabic character of Holland is convinced to dust off his killin’ boots by the death of a friend at the hands of the ruthless and deeply stereotypical Dr Clement Molloch. The characterisation is suitably black and white, with Dr Molloch torturing and killing poor people for corrupt governments, while Holland only kills bad guys for money.

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Holland uses his hitman skills to trail Dr Molloch’s supposedly highly trained bodyguards; he then kills them with either a gun or knife with no planning, plotting or forethought, making him the deadliest man alive! Or simply Charles Bronson in an action movie shot in the Eighties. In all seriousness, though, J Lee Thompson, who took over the Death Wish series from Michael Winner, makes an admirable attempt but there is simply far too little action and far too much driving around. Added to this the laughable love-story between Holland and his undercover wife (Theresa Saldana), who actually falls for him because, let's face it, what woman wouldn’t want to sleep with an angry serial killer.

In typically Bronsonesque fashion, Holland successfully dispatches all of the bad-guys before homing in on Dr Molloch himself thus concluding 90 minutes of what is largely a poor attempt at recreating Death Wish. If you’re a die-hard Bronson fan then you can add this to your collection safe in the knowledge that in 1984 it passed for an action movie. Sadly, for audiences who’ve seen the full arsenal of Van Dammage and Steven Seagal being ‘just a cook…’ the likes of The Evil That Men Do just don’t cut the nondescript terrorist’s throat any more. In terms of Bronson’s work it’s a poor man’s Death Wish so rent before you buy!

Reviewed on: 16 May 2007
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The Evil That Men Do packshot
Charles Bronson's assassin comes out of retirement to avenge the death of a friend.
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Director: J Lee Thompson

Writer: David Lee Henry, based on the novel by R Lance Hill

Starring: Charles Bronson, Theresa Saldana, Joseph Maher, José Ferrer, René Enríquez, John Glover, Raymond St. Jacques, Antoinette Bower, Enrique Lucero

Year: 1984

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Mexico, USA


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