Release Date(s)1974 (August 12, 2014)
Studio(s)Kino Lorber Studio Classics
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: D
Mr. Majestyk is more of a role that Charles Bronson is known for: the anti-hero type. But in this role, he’s really even more of a hero because murder isn’t his main drive for revenge. It’s simply to live quietly as a farmer and make some money, but the local goons want him to use THEIR hired hands and not his own. Eventually it leads Bronson to shotgun toting, truck chasing, and just generally cleaning up the town of its worthless scum. Not bad for a simple melon farmer.
To be honest though, Mr. Majestyk feels like a bit of a step down in the spectrum of Bronson revenge films. It has the elements of a fun action movie, but the story surrounding it AND the actors involved with it feel off. The actors, in particular, don’t seem all that into their roles. Bronson gives it his best, as does the main bad guy, played by Al Lettieri, but overall, the performances are very sterile; almost amateurish. The story meanders a lot of the time and never really gets a satisfying payoff either. Sure Bronson comes in at the end and kicks some ass, but it feels pretty hollow. Not that this is that deep of a movie, but when you’re comparing yourself to Billy Jack and Walking Tall in the theatrical trailer, then you’d better try and do something a little more.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some entertainment value to be had from Mr. Majestyk. Charles Bronson laying down in the back of a truck and kicking down the tailgate to blast a shotgun at the pursuing bad guys? You’ve gotta love that stuff. It’s moments like that that make the movie worth watching. It’s also interesting to note that the film was written by Elmore Leonard and directed by Richard Fleischer, who also directed Tora! Tora! Tora!, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Fantastic Voyage. With that kind of talent behind the camera you would expect something a little bit more edgy or straightforward. If the film had had a more ironed-out story with a more even tone and a better conclusion, it could probably stand alongside a lot of other top tier Bronson movies like it. As is, it’s entertaining enough, but lacking just a bit too much.
The Blu-ray for the release of the film features a mostly unimpressive transfer. Image detail is light, to say the least, with not nearly enough resolution to bring out the best in what’s there already. To be fair, this isn’t a film that’s soaked with a large amount of texture. But unfortunately, what IS there isn’t represented well enough. The color palette isn’t all that impressive either, but again, I don’t think it was meant to be. Grain is present, but never intrusive; black levels are pretty uneven; and both contrast and brightness are good enough. There were no signs of digital tinkering, but there were some very minor film artifacts left behind. However, they never get in the way. It’s a marginal improvement over the DVD with some brief moments of good detail and clarity overall, but it certainly could have seen some improvement. For the audio portion, which is a single English 2.0 DTS-HD track, the transfer fares much better. Although it’s not amazing, it’s certainly much more adequate. Dialogue is always clean, clear and precise, while sound effects have some good boost to them. There’s some nice background to things, as well as a bit of low end at times. Score is nice and healthy, as well. The soundtrack shows its age, but it works pretty well. There are also subtitles in English for those who need them.
Unfortunately, the only extra available is the original theatrical trailer. It’s just as well though. Mr. Majestyk probably won’t generate the kind of money a home video distributor would hope for. Just getting the film at all is good enough. It’s not one of Bronson’s best, but it’s certainly worth checking out if you haven’t already.
- Tim Salmons