Blu-ray Review: Mr. Majestyk | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, June 24th, 2024  

Mr. Majestyk

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Jan 13, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

If only they’d just let the man pick his melons!

Charles Bronson plays Vince Majestyk, a no-nonsense Vietnam vet who’s settled down on a Colorado watermelon farm. All the man wants to do is pick his melons in peace, but can they let him? No. Some racist chucklehead trespasses onto his acreage with a truckload of winos, makes a few insensitive comments about Majestyk’s migrant workforce, and tries to extort him into overpaying for his own drunken, inexperienced crew. When this fool tries to intimidate Majestyk with a shotgun, our tough-guy watermelon farmer disarms him and smashes the dude in the nuts with his own gun.

The man presses charges, and because Majestyk has a record—he did time for smashing a guy’s jaw in a bar brawl—he’s going to be held until trial, making it hard for him to pick his beloved melon crop. While being transported to jail, his prison bus is ambushed by mob gunmen who are out to spring made man Frank Renda (The Godfather’s Al Lettieri). Majestyk seizes an opportunity, and takes Renda as a hostage that he hopes he’ll be able to hand off to police in exchange for some quality melon-pickin’ time. This doesn’t quite work out as planned—and Majestyk makes an enemy of the mafia’s most dangerous hitman.

That’s the setup for Richard Fleischer’s 1974 film, Mr. Majestyk. Once you get past the melon fixation, it’s one of Bronson’s best—and a ridiculously entertaining slice of ‘70s action cinema. Elmore Leonard provided an original script—which he later novelized himself, naturally—with a lead character that really plays into Bronson’s low-key intimidation factor. Bronson never had to act menacing to seem menacing—he was aware of this quality, and would talk about people always clearing a path for him on the sidewalk, even as a youth, even when he considered himself a quiet and non-threatening individual. Bronson plays Majestyk as a guy who takes his licks, and keeps an impossibly cool head even as his life is being threatened. You know the moment’s coming when he’ll have been pushed too far. His adversaries have no idea who they’ve been messing with.

Mr. Majestyk boasts a great cast that, beyond Bronson and Lettieri, includes Paul Koslo as the initial shit-stirrer, Lee Purcell as Renda’s foxy moll, and Linda Cristal as Bronson’s fearless love interest. It’s highlighted by a few incredible, tense action scenes—including a mid-day shootout between police and mob gunmen, and an insane car chase which involves Bronson bouncing around in the back of a Ford pickup while his girlfriend off-roads through the Colorado desert.

Kino Lorber’s new release of Mr. Majestyk features a brand new 2K master, which looks excellent, as well as a new audio commentary from top Bronson expert Paul Talbot. There are also TV spots, a trailer, and new, on-camera interviews with Lee Purcell and cameraman Richard H. Kline. It lives up to the “special edition” billing, and if you’re looking at any of KLSC’s recent Bronson reissues—this would be the best one to start with.



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