Death Kiss (2018)
Directed by Rene Perez
The Hungarian-born stuntman-turned-actor Robert Kovacs is a dead-ringer for Charles Bronson, the Lithuanian-American action star of the 1960s and ‘70s. Both served in the military, both have top-heavy physiques. But Kovacs—who fans have affectionately nicknamed “Bronzi”—doesn’t have the gravitas that Bronson had. Or, at least, that’s not on display in “Death Kiss,” where he plays a vigilante remedying past sins by murdering sex traffickers and rapists. Kovacs has the mustache and the voice, but when it comes to breathing life into his character, he can’t fill the legendary star’s big boots.
Kovacs plays Mr. K, an enigmatic man who spends 99% of the movie on the streets, killing criminals. Every so often, a conservative talk radio DJ (played by Daniel Baldwin…maybe the best part of the movie) cuts in between scenes to catch the viewer up on the horrible things that are happening in his city. He opines that the police are useless when it comes to these violent crimes, but happily reports that someone has been killing the bad guys anyway. Taking on street gangs without any backup of your own can only work for so long, though…right?
“Death Kiss” is a gritty and gory B-movie with plenty of fake blood to go around. But that and a gimmicky lookalike don’t carry the movie through its many flaws. The plot may be the worst offender. It’s little more than a series of interactions between Mr. K and a bad guy that ends in a bloody mess. Attempts to connect the dots are noticeable, but rickety. Without a good story, “Death Kiss” relies on its main character (who is in almost every scene) to guide audiences to the climax. But Kovacs, as I said before, doesn’t do much to make us understand where his character comes from, or why he got into the vigilante business in the first place. Did he ever have a wife, a kid, a mom, a dad? It’s not all Kovacs’s fault, obviously. The writer’s failed to give Mr. K a backstory, or enough dialogue to humanize him in any way. He hardly even changes his facial expression. And when he runs, it looks like he’s constipated. Kovacs spent his early years as a professional horseman, and his bow-legged run shows it. But no matter; since Mr. K is modeled after those stoic ‘70s action heroes of the past, his quickness (or lack thereof) rarely makes a difference. Still, “Death Kiss” could’ve used some of the trappings of modern action movies.