Not just an exploitation movie, but an exploitation movie that understands its implications and wrestles with them. The original Death Wish, released during the meteoric rise of crime in New York City, is a raw and frustrated cry for help as architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson), reeling from an assault on his wife and daughter that left the former dead and the latter traumatized, takes it upon himself to make the streets less hospitable to muggers, rapists and other thugs. Unlike its goofier sequels and many tawdry knock-offs, Death Wish is a serious movie to be taken seriously. Director Michael Winner brings a sincerity that may lean toward the sensational but never gets carried away, which may have something to with Bronson’s similarly direct style. Neat score by Herbie Hancock and Jeff Goldblum makes an unsavory early appearance.