The Evil That Men Do (1984) – Review

1 Star

The Evil That Men Do is a slow building film that plays loose with logic and even looser with probability. Adapted from a novel with a title that is derived from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The character that Bronson plays in this movie is a variation on his vigilante screen persona derived from his Death Wish character. The Evil That Men Do represents the fifth of nine teamings of director J Lee Thompson with star Charles Bronson. The pair would follow this abysmal film with, Messenger of Death and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, both far superior products. Charles Bronson’s 62 years of age, shows through particularly in the absence of any real physical combat or much movement at all. Most shots feature our man sitting, or standing around surveying.

This time the action takes place in Central America and Bronson is pitted against a vile assassin and his repulsive henchmen. The typically unflappable Bronson is lured out of retirement by watching videotapes of torture victims’ testimonials. Before long, Charles is back to work eliminating the bad guys with an assortment of weapons and guerilla tactics. This disturbing entry into the Bronson film cannon is heavy with scenes of brutality, blood and mayhem.

The ineptitude is staggering in that the film takes frequent stops for meaningless scenes that never add up to anything substantial, or worthwhile. There has been an undercurrent of sexual perversity and exploitation in most of Charlie’s films, from the brutal rape and sadistic treatment of women in the Death Wish series, to the lesbian sex and threesome present here. Not that I am some cinema prude, it just seems out of place and does nothing but cheapen a film that is weak to begin with.

Maybe it is too much to ask for, but the screenplay doesn’t even begin to explore the seemingly incestuous nature of the doctor and his sister, arguably the most compelling characters in the entire story. Then we have the issue of the child Bronson drags to Guatemala. Why is she there? Particularly when she is overcome with nausea at the sight of bloodshed? Because she needs to be held hostage and used in a standoff that serves as the limp climax, that’s why. This has to be the first film in history to end with the bad guy being slaughtered with mini pick axes by a mob of opal miners, just saying.

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Charles Bronson, Joseph Maher, John Glover

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