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Evil That Men Do, The Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 March 2002

The Evil That Men Do
Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: R
starring: Charles Bronson, Theresa Saldana, Joseph Maher, Antoinette Bower, Jose Ferrer
release year: 1983
film rating: Three Stars
sound/picture: Three Stars
reviewed by: Mel Odom

Back in the 1980s when Charles Bronson was one of the undisputed kings of the action/thriller movie, "The Evil That Men Do" was considered solid work and nothing really new. Bronson is known for his bloody, two-fisted shoot-'em-ups, whether from a sedan or horseback. Seeing Bronson work his way through a film is a pleasure, and if you haven’t seen one of his movies lately, this DVD is a good place to get back into his work.
As good as the work is, though, the movie is dated. From the opening montage of scenes in Chapter 1, the viewer is treated to a sound not often heard in today’s world. The explosive hammering of an electric typewriter’s keys (and, yes, a trained ear can tell the difference between the strokes of a manual typewriter verses an electric typewriter) beats a tattoo across the screen to announce the geographical location.

Chapter 1 moves into the meat of the story by introducing the insidious Dr. Molloch, a professional torturer who has been used by different countries all around the world. The torture chamber instantly demands attention, and Molloch’s soft-voiced instructional delivery is chilling. Molloch kills a newspaperman that stood against him, setting into play the actions that will doom him.

Chapter 1 also establishes one of the soundtrack’s constant noises throughout the film. Outside the building where Molloch works, the sibilant sound of crickets fills the night and accompanies a man attaching a bomb to the underside of the sadistic torturer’s car. When the car blows up, not killing Molloch, of course, the listener is treated to the hissing sound of flames, another constant throughout the movie.

Chapter 2 introduces Charles Bronson. He stars as Holland, a retired assassin who basically owns his own island and hangs out with his pet fish, Quasimodo. Holland is approached by a man who knew the murdered journalist. The visitor seeks to activate Holland’s guilt by reminding him that the journalist came to him for help before he was kidnapped and murdered. The sound of the waves and the wind underscore this section of the movie.

While receiving his visitor, Holland views several tapes gathered by the dead journalist. All are interviews with past victims of Molloch. They’re scored in Spanish and overlaid with a man doing a flat delivery in English. Although the presentation is lacking by today’s CNN broadcasting efforts, the reports are still chilling due to the graphic nature and the fact that the words are also laid over the natural sounds that come in from the beach outside the screens of Holland’s sun room. When the visitor has had enough, he enters the sun room and the screen door slams behind him, disturbing the viewer a little more.

Holland at first turns the job down, but later accepts. As part of his cover, he wants to travel with a woman and a child, posing as a tourist family. The wife of the murdered man volunteers. After Holland and widow arrive in Mexico, the viewer may well be surprised by the lack of computers sitting on desks as well as the Spartan surroundings. The set designers didn’t work overtime getting the scenes established in the movie. However, with the surround sound capability, even though this is only a mono DVD, the slaps of shoe leather against tile and hardwood floors echo in the rooms.

Chapter 9 brings in another sound that is seldom heard these days. Holland makes a phone call and the rotary dial ratchets out. Young listeners might not even recognize the sound. In Chapter 10, Holland attends a cockfight, filled with the crowd noises that could have been much better done on surround sound. He spies on Molloch, the man’s sister, and the bodyguards, figuring them out.

Also in Chapter 10, Holland spies on Molloch’s house at night. The sound of the big security lights snapping on echoes across the room. Holland catches Mollock’s sister off with her lesbian lover in Chapter 16 and gets caught under their bed during their encounter. Although probably quite racy back in 1983, the scene is over almost as soon as it begind. Still, seeing tough-guy Charles Bronson caught in such a scene carries a certain humor with it.

When Holland gets out from under the bed in Chapter 17 to catch Molloch’s sister in the shower, the running water serves as an undercurrent to disaster. The viewer watches as one of the bodyguards enters the house. After Holland gets the drop on the guy, he drops him through a balcony window several stories up with a fire hose wrapped around his neck. The sound of the fire hose coming off the rack is chilling, but the effect is lessened as the camerawork leaves no doubt that a dummy was dropped through the window instead of a stunt person.

In Chapter 20, the old reliable cricket noises in the background gives way to bird noises. The bird chirps are a good change of pace, but for someone not listening for the audio portions of the DVD, they might not even be noticed. Chapter 21 introduces us to a regular barnyard of noises during a chase scene. Cows, chickens, pigs and even a donkey are all given brief moments to break up the roaring V-8 engines and splashes as the cars rip through shallow streams. The car chase ends in several exchanges of gunfire and car wreck that leaves the bad guys in flames.

Chapter 22 shows Holland fleeing pursuit in a ramshackle pickup truck. The truck’s straining and rattling are a nice touch, and anyone who has worked out on a farm where a truck was just another piece of equipment instead of a trophy will recognize the noises. The crickets make a return in the background even though the landscape seems inhospitable to the insects.

Chapters 24 and 25 make use of a church bell in a small town. Holland encounters the bell the first time in a graveyard, then the ringing mutes slightly as he has a showdown with a pair of bad guys in a cantina. But it’s a nice piece of work that reminds the viewer the place hasn’t changed.

As a tale of vengeance, "The Evil That Men Do" leaves a bit to be desired. Several questions come to mind that are never answered about the characters. From the conversations that go on between them, the reader can tell that much was left out of the 90-minute movie from the book by R. Lance Hill. Still, the direction given by J. Lee Thompson of the script by David Lee Henry and John Crowther should meet every action enthusiast’s criteria for a popcorn night at the movies.

The thing that really makes this film shine is Charles Bronson. When it comes to tough guys, Bronson is part of the bedrock. Nobody delivers a better tight-lipped, fist-in-your-face kind of tough-guy than Bronson. If you’re a Bronson fan, you’ll definitely want to pick this DVD up. And if you’re an action movie fan you’ll want to give the movie a look.

more details
sound format:
English Mono
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Digitally Mastered Audio & Anamorphic Video; Remastered in High Definition, Widescreen and Full Screen Presentations; Theatrical Trailers; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection; English, French, Spanish & Portuguese Subtitles
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Pioneer DV-C302D
receiver: RCA RT2280
main speakers: RCA RT2280
center speaker: RCA RT2280
rear speakers: RCA RT2280
subwoofer: RCA RT2280
monitor: 42-inch Toshiba HD Projection TV

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