CANNON MONTH 2: Messenger of Death (1988)

I despise the narrative that Cannon’s films with Bronson and J. Lee Thompson are poor. Having already worked together on St. Ives, The White Buffalo and Caboblanco, they would also make 10 to Midnight, The Evil That Men Do, Murphy’s LawDeath Wish 4: The Crackdown and this film at Cannon. And you know, while this is not the best movie they made together, it is in no way a bad movie (that said, Thompson got sick during the making of this movie and it was finished by second unit director Robert C. Ortwin Jr. ).

The film starts with Orville Beecham’s (Charles Dierkop) three wives and children being murdered by masked men. Chief of police Barney Doyle (Daniel Benzali) arrives with reporter Garret Smith (Charles Bronson) to the scene of the crime. Smith soon discovers that Beecham is the son of a Warren Jeffs-like Mormon preacher and the murders have something to do with a family feud over a doctrinal dispute. As that sect supports blood atonement for perceived crimes, Smith decides to push his investigation and soon learns that someone even more brutal is behind the crime: The Colorado Water Company.

The red trucks that the water company uses are actually Lincoln Hawk’s trucks from Over the Top painted red with signs covering the Hawk Hauling logo on the side doors.

Wait — is this Bronson’s Chinatown?

Written by Paul Jarrico, who endured the blacklist in Europe, where he wrote La Balada de Johnny Ringo, and based on the book The Avenging Angel by Rex Burns, this might not be the Bronson film you expect — he’s a reporter who doesn’t carry a gun instead of a killing machine — this was an attempt from Bronson to do something different after Death Wish 4: The Crackdown. He told Newsday, “I prefer to play different characters in films. And I wouldn’t want to be in a weekly TV series. I imagine a lot of series stars fall asleep playing the same guy every week. Some of them relax when they know their show is signed for a whole season. I admire Tom Selleck; he keeps bringing new things to his series.”

You can listen to The Cannon Canon episode about this film, click here.

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