Death Wish 4: The Crackdown
Death Wish 4 poster
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown movie poster


J. Lee Thompson

Written By

Gail Morgan Hickman


John Bisharat, Paul McCallum, Valentine McCallum


Pancho Kohner


Cannon Films (USA)

Release Date

November 6th, 1987

Running Time

99 minutes


$5 million

Box Office

$6.8 million (USA)

Followed By

Death Wish 5: The Face of Death

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown is a 1987 action thriller, and the fourth film in the Death Wish series, once agian starring Charles Bronson. This is the first of the series to carry a subtitle, the first to be directed by someone other than Micheal Winner, and the last to be released by Cannon Films. It was directed by J. Lee Thompson best known in Hollywood for the 1961 film The Guns of Navarone and the 1962 thriller Cape Fear. The film had a substantially cheaper budget and more limited release than its predecessors. It debuted in U.S. theatres in November 1987. The screenplay by Gail Morgan Hickman returns Paul Kersey to Los Angeles where he lived in Death Wish 2.


A woman in a parking garage has trouble starting her car. The Dream Rapists appear, force her out, and begin to rape her when Paul Kersey appears out of nowhere. He shoots the first two to death and wounds the third. Paul blocks the exit, where the third mugger pleads for his life. Paul shoots him and then rolls the criminal over with his foot and reveals him to be himself. The assault was just a bad dream. A young woman enters Paul's architectural office. She is Erica Sheldon and Paul is dating her mother, Karen Sheldon. Erica later goes with her boyfriend Randy Viscovich to an arcade to meet up with a drug dealer named Jojo Ross and his partner Jesse. JoJo offers her crack, and Erica dies from an overdose. The next night (without explanation), Paul follows Randy to the arcade. Randy confronts JoJo and threatens to go to the police. JoJo kills Randy to prevent this. Paul promptly shoots JoJo, who falls onto the electrified roof of the bumper-car ride to his death. At home, Paul receives a call from publisher someone claiming to be the publisher Nathan White. The Fake Nathan White explains that after his wife died, his daughter became his whole life. Then she became addicted to drugs and died of an overdose. The Fake Nathan White wants to hire Paul to wipe out the drug trade in LA — in particularly, there are 2 major drug gangs rivaling between themselves for the main local drug supply: Ed Zacharias's Cartel and the Romero Brothers Cartel. Paul accepts and the Fake Nathan White supplies him with weapons and information. All the while two Los Angeles police officer, Det. Sid Reiner and his partner Det. Phil Nozaki, begin to investigate the arcade deaths. Paul infiltrates a mansion where Ed Zacharias is throwing an elaborate birthday party. As he bugs a phone, he witnesses Ed Zacharias murder a colleague, Vince Montono. Ed Zacharias discovers and captures Paul (under the fake name "Leo") and orders him to help carry out the dead body. One of Ed Zacharias's men, Al Arroyo, and Paul hide it in the trunk of a car. Knowing that he is about to be killed, Paul decapitates Arroyo with the car's trunk cover in self-defense. Paul proceeds to kill Ed Zacharias's Hitmen in an Italian restaurant - Danny Moreno, Art Sanella and Jack Stein - with a wine bottle containing a bomb (he offered the explosive bottle to the 3 criminals under the fake name "Jack Kimble" and saying himself to be a representative of a newly-open wine manufacturer); later he starts attacking the Romeros' side: first, he kills drug dealer Max Green, leader of Romeros' streetdealers, disguised as a porn video store owner and two of his assistants; later, he kills Romeros' top hitman, Frank Bauggs, by throwing him from the sacade of his apartment. All the while Ed Zacharias and the Romeros begin to suspect each other. Eight more criminals are killed at the fisherman's wharf by Paul. Det. Nozaki, revealed to be a corrupt cop working for Ed Zacharias, is instructed by Ed Zacharias to get rid of whoever is setting him up. Det. Nozaki himself tries to get information from Paul at his office, but he is killed by Paul. Det. Reiner learns of Det. Nozaki's death (not knowing about his corruption) and swears vengeance on Paul for what he did to his partner. Ed Zacharias calls the Romero Brothers to a meeting place in the oil fields. Paul is already there and fires his rifle. Ed Zacharias thinks that it is Romero's crew doing this and opens fire, resulting in a mobster gunfight that includes Jack Romero in the killed. They kill each other as Paul kills two more - Tony Romero and Ed Zacharias themselves. The Fake Nathan White calls to congratulate Paul on a job well done. He asks to meet, but instead sends his limousine driver alone. Paul realizes he's been set up inside a limousine prone to explode. He shoots the back window of the limo and escapes before the car explodes. Paul forces his way into the house the Fake Nathan White was using. An old man living there claims to be the real Nathan White, having returned from a three-month vacation. Paul is then arrested by two cops. On the way to the station, Paul recognizes them as impostors. He flips over the car, killing one phony cop and knocking the other unconscious. The Fake Nathan White is furious that Paul is still alive. He kidnaps and uses Karen as a bait to lure Paul into a trap. Paul knocks out Det. Reiner (who was awaiting inside Paul's apartment), then pulls an M16 with from a gun rack hidden behind a freezer. Paul arrives at the meeting place - the parking lot of a roller rink. The car rolls forwars and the Fake Nathan White orders his men to open fire. They spray the car with bullets before realizing Paul's not in it. Paul fires a grenade, killing three criminals as their van explodes. Paul follows the Fake Nathan White into a roller rink, resulting in the deaths of six more criminals. The Fake Nathan White escapes through a back door holding Karen hostage. Karen attempts to escape, but the Fake Nathan White shoots her from behind, killing her. Distraught by Karen's death and realizing that the Fake Nathan White has run out of bullets, Paul kills him. Det. Reiner arrives and threatens to shoot Paul if he dosen't surender. Paul keeps walking and simply says: "Do whatever you have to do." And Det. Reiner lets him go.


Original Script IdeaEdit

Soon after the completion of Murphy's Law screenwriter Gail Morgan Hickman, who had written that film, was asked by producer Pancho Kohner to come up with a new Death Wish storyline. Hickman initially developed a concept that brought back the Jill Ireland character from Death Wish 2. At the end of that film Ireland discovers that Paul Kersey is the vigilante and ends their relationship. In the new Hickman storyline Kersey, haunted by his actions as a vigilante, convinces Ireland to take him back by promising to hang up his guns. She agrees, but subsequently dies in a grocery store holdup, which prompts Kersey to set aside his vow and once again hit the streets, gun in hand. After the script was finished, Bronson's wife, Jill Ireland, who was battling cancer, backed out of the film because she did not want to play a character who died. Under pressure from Canon Films to begin production, Hickman quickly developed a new screenplay, in which Paul Kersey is manipulated into becoming the vigilante again by a ruthless drug dealer who uses him to get rid of the competition.