Charles Bronson is Majestyk, an ex-con and Vietnam vet whose efforts to run a farm are thwarted by narrow-minded locals and corrupt cops. But when a Mafia hitman (Al Lettieri) destroys Majestyk's crop, the farmer's fuse is finally blown. With his rifle in hand and his girlfriend (Linda Cristal) at the wheel, he goes after the syndicate assassin. And from high-speed back-road chases to an explosive backwoods confrontation, mobster and maverick stalk each other: two of a kind, antagonists to the death.
Based on Elmore Leonard's original screenplay, Charles Bronson stars as the titular 'Mr. Majestyk', one of the many characters in his filmography where he played a strong man who exudes "an imposing aspect," one of the definitions of "majestic," on all those he encounters. Released in July 1974, the following week would see the release of Bronson's more famous work 'Death Wish', another film where his character must stand up for himself against criminals because the system can’t protect him.
Set in Colorado, we first meet Majestyk helping a group of Mexican migrant workers, led by Nancy Chavez (Linda Cristal). A gas station attendant refuses to let them use the bathroom until Majestyk presses the issue. Majestyk is a melon farmer and hires the migrants to assist him with his harvest, which needs to be done soon. This point is repeated a few times to create some tension and raise the stakes for Majestyk's character, but it never amounts to anything.
However, when he arrives at his place, Bobby Kopas (Paul Koslo), a tough guy, although it's never clear why anyone would ever follow this man, has a bunch of drunks picking the melons and offers protection. What's very odd about the offer is why Kopas would think anyone would want to use such terrible workers. If he's going to try and monopolize the picking business, why not find the best people to do the job?
But even if he had the best, it wouldn’t matter, because Majestyk isn't going to be forced to do anything he doesn't want, and he sends that message loud and clear with his fists and Kopas' gun. As well as Majestyk fights, it suggests he is more than a humble farmer. The local police show up later and jail Majestyk for assault. They don't perform much of an investigation and seem indifferent to the case, but it proves to be forced plotting by the screenwriter in order for Majestyk to cross paths with assassin Frank Renda (Al Lettieri), the main antagonist of the story who develops a vendetta against Majestyk for not helping him escape.
While the prisoners are being transported, director Richard Fleischer and the stunt team stage an over-the-top action sequence as Renda's men try to break him out. There's a lot of gunfire and vehicles exploding, some inexplicably. It seems making the film exciting takes precedence over logic, as seen in a later sequence when Majestyk flees the bad guys in his Ford truck. The thing speeds along the bumpy Colorado terrain and catches so much air it's impossible to believe the vehicle could survive except for a little movie magic.
'Mr. Majestyk', which has the feel of a Western, is an enjoyable, albeit lightweight, '70s action movie. The story is a simple tale of good guys versus bad guys and that's about as much depth as the characters are given. It might not be listed at the top of either Bronson's or Leonard's resume, but as fun as it is, it certainly shouldn't be left off.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents 'Mr. Majestyk' on a 25GB Region A Blu-ray disc in a standard Blue case. The disc boots up directly to the menu screen without any promotional advertisements.
The video for 'Mr. Majestyk' has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC that is displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. A natural film grain is evident and during low light scenes, such as when characters are hiding out in an abandoned building or cabin, or shot through the windshield, it increases, but never to the point of distraction. The image is clean except for the occasional appearances of black specks and white specks.
The brighter the scene the brighter the hues as seen right away in the exterior scenes at the gas station and at green and browns at 'Mr. Majestyk'. Blacks are adequate but not very rich and objects get swallowed in the shadows, such as in the aforementioned abandoned building. Objects look clear and offer good texture and detail.
The audio is available in DTS-HD 2.0 Mono. The dialogue is always clear and understandable. Charles Bernstein's full-bodied score demonstrates great dynamics in its arrangement. Together with the effects, the tracks are balanced well together. Bass is adequate in its support of the gunfire, crashes, and explosions. The only knock I would have is that the sounds of the melons exploding when hit by bullets is louder than the machine gun fire.
For fans of Charles Bronson and/or action films, 'Mr. Majestyk' is recommend. For those who aren't either, this might not be the film that draws you into either camp. The HD presentation is fairly satisfying for a 40-year-old film. Recommended.