Imagine Jason Statham, buff almost A but still a little B-Movie action hero, working in the 1970’s. Imagine he is given the script of film where he still gets to be a buff action hero movie star but it’s in such a bizarre setting that everything about the film makes your eyes pop out in astonishment.
Such is the case for ‘Mr. Majestyk’, an utterly bewildering idea for entertainment, that when Big Dave started chuntering on about it, as some kind of brief aside at a family gathering, we all thought he had finally lost his marbles. “Do you remember that film about Charles Bronson who looks after the mangoes?” he said.
Blank looks on everyone’s, and I do mean everyone’s, faces.
“You mean you’ve never seen it? It was amazing. He was a mango farmer and these guys come after him.”
Cue an outbreak of laughing and worried looks until my brother Googles it and finds that it’s a real thing.
That is, a real thing where my dad has got some of the details wrong. Charles Bronson plays a melon farmer, a farmer who also straddles the typical types of war veteran and ex-con. All he cares about is successfully getting his melon crop to the supplier so he can get paid and think about next year. Interwoven throughout the narrative is various references to how much Bronson needs to get back to his crop of melons, how much he has to get back to harvest his melons. In fact a reference to this crops up about every twenty minutes and each time it made me laugh out loud. Here’s a precis of the story:
‘Bronson hires a bus of people to help bring his crop in. Some punk tries to muscle in on the action with his own bus. Bronson steals his rifle, strikes the punk in the balls and sends him on his way. The punk gets the cops involved and Bronson is arrested. In the clink he meets this other-worldly grim reaper of a man called Frank, who’s a mafia hitman. As they are being transported somewhere his mafia friends try to break him free, only for Bronson and Frank to go on the run but not for very long. Why? Because Bronson has to get back to his melons. Frank offers him $25,000.00 to not hand him back to the cops, Bronson refuses and almost dies when the mafia’s girlfriend turns up, narrowly escaping by jumping through the rear window of a car. Frank becomes obsessed, refusing to leave until he gets his revenge over this simple melon farmer. He chases away the hired help and then, hilariously, orders his middle-aged henchmen to fire multiple rounds in his melon harvest. If you’ve ever wanted to see several minutes of people shooting at fruit then this is definitely the film for you.
Now at the end of his tether, Bronson goes on the offence, killing all the henchmen (including another laugh out loud moment when his truck gently nudges a car full of henchies off the edge of a hill and it explodes as though it’s packed full of dynamite). The final confrontation is such a letdown too: the girlfriend gives up and leaves, the punk decides that Frank is a nutter and runs away, leaving only Frank in his hideout. Bronson jumps through the window, shoots Frank and that’s it. It’s the biggest anti-climax I have witnessed in a long while. Bronson goes home, despite the fact that almost all of his melons are messed up and his best-friend had both his legs broken in the ensuing chaos.’
I mean, where to start? Charles Bronson does a good job of playing the part only at the time the film was released he was 53 years old. The love interest, not tacked on in the slightest, who is one of the migrant workers helping to harvest the melons, is about 20 years younger than him (this is a full decade before Roger Moore starred in ‘A View To A Kill’ romancing a then 30 year old Tanya Roberts at the ripe age of 58). She is inexplicably drawn to him because he does the gruff man thing of ‘sending her away so she doesn’t get hurt’ despite the fact she tells him, in no uncertain terms, that where she grew up she was repeatedly subjected to violence or albeit the threat thereof. The henchmen were the least threatening cronies I have ever seen. One looked as though he was in his sixties, definitely older than Bronson, yet still seemed to swagger around with the same menace as Genghis Khan.
The back of the DVD box is also a riot. It reads as follows:
“Bronson stars as Majestyk, an ex-con and Vietnam vet whose efforts to run a farm are thwarted by narrow-minded locals and corrupt cop.s But hwne a Mafia hitman destroys Majestyk’s crop, the farmer’s fuse is finally blown. With his rifle in hand and his girlfriend (a bit of an overstatement, because they’re refusing to the love interest; they throw some words at each other, go for a beer and that makes them a couple?) at the wheel, he goes after the syndicate assassin. And from high-speed back-road chases (I must have missed those) to an explosive backwoods confrontation (the aforementioned anti-climax), mobster and maverick stalk each other: two of a kind, antagonists to the death.”
Whoever wrote that either deserves an award for the biggest stack of lies since Boris Johnson opened his mouth or was looking at the wrong film. It wasn’t bad in the sense that it’s an awful film only that there is very little to recommend about it bar Bronson’s and Frank, the mafia guy, Al Lettieri’s. performances. FYI, Lettieri looks as though he would knock you out for checking your back pocket for change and remains one of the few convincing things in the entire production.
I’d give it a “Lesley Pipes” – watchable but average.