October 08, 1984 12:00 PM

Charles Bronson films operate on the principle that the more malevolent the villain inciting Charlie’s wrath, the more liberal his license to gain revenge. In this case he raises the stakes of graphic violence above even that of the Death Wish movies. Bronson plays a professional killer lured out of serene retirement by José Ferrer, a kindly professor. Apparently easily swayed “by humanitarian causes, Bronson agrees to track down a sadistic doctor who has been advising Latin American countries on the finer points of torture. Theresa (Raging Bull) Saldana appears as Bronson’s partner in vengeance; this is a bizarre film for her comeback after a near-fatal assault by an apparent psychopath in Los Angeles in 1982. Bronson disposes of the doc’s henchmen one by one, like someone peeling the leaves off an artichoke, and J. Lee Thompson, directing his fifth Bronson film, misses few chances to boost the body count. The settings in and around Guadalajara, Mexico are lovely—when they can be seen between the blood spatters. (R)

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