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Movie Reviews : ‘Kinjite’: Nothing New for Charles Bronson

From one angle, “Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects” (citywide) is just another Charles Bronson action thriller--a bit sleazier and more repellent than most--in which Bronson is put through his patented paces and car chases by director J. Lee Thompson, a brazen old pro who apparently doesn’t care any more whom he offends.

Child prostitution, pornography, cocaine, rape, public masturbation, sadism, extreme violence, racial stereotyping: The unsavory scenes pile up thick and fast. On one hand, we have a villain, an elegant, amoral pimp named Duke (Juan Fernandez, the pretty-boy sadist of Stone’s “Salvador”) who hooks children on drugs. On the other, we have a hero, Bronson’s Lt. Crowe, who’s pathologically protective of his teen-age daughter, brutalizes suspects mercilessly and explodes in racist tantrums.

Trapped between them is a “respectable” Japanese businessman (James Pax) who fondles a teen-age girl--Crowe’s daughter, no less--on a bus and whose own daughter is kidnaped by the pimp. Who is there to choose among this deviant trio, as Thompson keeps crisscrossing back and forth, driving them to mutual release or perdition? Isn’t this the same sordid farrago we get served again and again, usually over the sleek, vacant machismo of a Stallone or a Schwarzenegger?

Maybe. Maybe not. Bronson and the 75-year-old Thompson have made nine movies together, starting with 1976’s “St. Ives.” This is the strangest, most intense of the lot.

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The movie’s unusual scenario, by Harold Nebenzal, is desperately symmetrical. It keeps sabotaging any moral frame of reference. Most of the time, Crowe is a man possessed, off-kilter, exorcising his own sexual demons in increasingly grotesque, and almost gratuitous, explosions of violence.

Unlike the Stallone-Schwarzenegger specials, the violence is rarely justified. It just keeps accumulating, insanely, driving Crowe and Duke to greater feats of deviance and sadism, culminating in a lurid, appalling climax. After every outburst, Bronson usually has a shamed, naughty expression--after he advances on a sado-masochist, or forces a $25,000 Rolex watch down the pimp’s throat. These are his own “kinjite” or forbidden subjects, just as Pax’s are the public molestations.

“Kinjite” is a pretty odd, murky stew. If you think you might be offended by it, don’t go. You will be. Thompson has always had an evil sense of humor, and the movie repeatedly crosses the line between dramatizing a situation and exploiting it, exposing racism or moral rot and almost indulging in it. But the disturbance you feel in watching “Kinjite” doesn’t just come because it has a sordid subject, some bad scenes or a heavy cargo of shock and sleaze, but because it leaves us, much of the time, with no moral anchor. “Kinjite” (MPAA rated R for sex, violence, nudity, drug use, abuse of children and language) is a hard genre movie with something different . . . though not everyone will have stomachs strong enough to look for it.


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