Classic Movie Review: Mr. Majestyk

Last night we sat down to Mr. Majestyk, an action film from 1974, courtesy of Netflix and a recommendation from Erik.  This movie stars the ever awesome Charles Bronson as, wait for it, a melon farmer.What? Doesn’t sound too action packed you say. But wait, he’s a retired Vietnam vet melon farmer! Alright! I’m with you, so shit goes down? Damn right it does.

While the title Mr. Majestyk, and yes that is the character’s name, doesn’t really inspire that ass kicking sort of punch like your Serpico or your Shaft, this Bronson is one bad mother, but I’ll shut my mouth right there.

The movie opens with Majestyk getting some gas and taking a leak, riveting intro. Actually the movie opens with a montage of stills from the film coming up. It shows Majestyk holding a shotgun, squinting down at some scum bag he’s about to waste, and jumping around a lot. It’s like insta- previews. Then we cut to the gas station. Booring.

But, wait, here come some migrant farm workers, just the kind Majestyk hires to pick his melons. They are refused service and a bathroom, even through they have clearly brought the little ones with their oh so little bladders, won’t somebody help them?

Majestyk steps in, throws a little weight around, and bam! shit gets done, a victory for the little guy. This Majestyk fellow ain’t so bad after all. So he rides out to his melon farm with these new friends, but when he gets there, troubles a brewing. Seems some white boy racketeer has already hired his own crew and set them up in Majestyk’s farm, like he’s running the place. Worse yet, when Majestyk tells him to scram, the boy pulls a fucking shotgun on him. What a prick. Only, this Majestyk, he don’t take no shit from no fancy pants cowboy gangsters. He grabs the gun, slams it into the guys groin in one of the most painful looking nut shots I have EVER seen, and pulls it back on him. Then those suckas get off his property but good. Don’t fuck with Majestyk.

But get this, the gangsters called the cops! Majestyk gets arrested for assault with a shottie, and gets holed up in da slammer (what is with me today?) There he meets this hit man named Frank Renda. From there we go into one of the more bizarre escape/ cat and mouse games I’ve seen when Renda’s men try to bust him out of the prison bus, like the beginning of the Fugitive. Cops get shot, gangsters get shot, Majestyk commandeers the bus, with Renda still in it and tries to ransom Renda back to the cops for his own freedom. Weird right? Kind of comes out of nowhere. Has nothing to do with the guys from before, and what about the melons?

See, all through out this movie, Majestyk needs to get those melons picked, or he’s finished. That’s all he cares about. A simple man, with one dream, to get those melons in. That’s why he kidnapped Renda, that’s why he tried to haul him back in. And when Renda grabs a gun in the car they’re riding back in, Majestyk jumps out of the car THROUGH THE BACK WINDOW!! Just jumps right through, shatters the fucker, then he rolls out and runs away, completely avoiding getting shot by a professional hit man the whole time. What a bad ass.

Then shit really goes down. You think it’s been getting crazy so far? You have no idea. Renda plans revenge for that afternoon of his Majestyk wasted. Even though he gained freedom and escaped a murder one charge. No, he goes back to this farm town to seek out Majestyk and kill him all for himself.

I guess Bronson just has a way of getting under your skin. It’s that squint, man. I tell you, when a guy just sits and stares you down totally cool while you’re losing your shit openly and uncontrollably, yeah, you want to take him out. I can see that.

So Renda gets his boys, goes after Majestyk and we have an excellent stand off and finale. Needless to say Majestyk gets those melons in, but then Renda shoots them all up! Yeah. He and his boys just plug every one of ’em, well most of ’em anyways. What an even bigger prick. The look on Majestyk’s face and the slow fist clench say it all, these guys are dead.

But you know, no one gets a beating that can compare to the  damage this ford has to go through. Damn, they just don’t make them like they used to.

And you know what? You probably already guessed the outcome, I mean we’re talking about Charles Bronson here for God’s sake. The man is like a killing machine. He’s older than dirt, has one of the worst hair/ facial hair combos in history, and generally looks asleep half the time, but he will fuck you up. Just don’t get between him and his melons.

Quick top five: Best Stand Offs in Cinema

5. Straw Dogs– This is a scary movie, you feel the tension and the terror throughout. Directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman, it takes place in the remote country, where local slack jawed yokels are threatening a man and his wife. This is one of those movies where every threat of violence and death is real, it’s tangible, it’s intense.

4. Way of the Gun– This movie had a huge impact on me, a macho movie that wasn’t awful or insulting, right when I was watching stuff like Reservoir Dogs (which will not be on this list ). The whole movie is also a series of the coolest stand offs and gun fights I can think of. And when you can get a respectable performance out of Ryan Philippe, you’ve won. Hats off WOTG.

3. Dawn of the Dead (the original, please)- Stand offs with zombies are George Romero’s blood and butter. The man is a master, and for my money, his Dawn of the Dead is his high water mark. Nothing about this movie is bad, nothing lacking. It is the coolest and smartest zombie flick Romero has ever made, and one of the more important (if that makes sense) horror films in cinema.

2. Dog Day Afternoon– My favorite performance from Al Pacino. Favorite. Don’t argue with me, it’s a personal thing. I don’t think he’s ever been more real, more vulnerable, more sympathetic, or more powerful then he was as a failed bank robber, holed up with his partner and hopelessly outnumbered. This is another one of those movies I could watch forever and ever. The scene where he’s shouting “Attica! Attica!” gives me chills. Amazing.

1. First Blood– Damn right First Blood. It’s like a stand off with the whole town, the whole country, maybe… the whole world. But, Stallone? Why the tears? It’s ok Sly. Shh, no tears, no tears.

-Charlie

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