In "Death Wish III," architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson), the death-wisher, comes to the South Bronx and finds his host beaten to death by a group of hoodlums. Now, these guys should know better than to mess with an architect, and soon enough, Kersey (who moves into his chum's apartment) is foiling them with nail-studded boards, Rube Goldberg burglar-proofing contraptions and the old-fashioned fist-to-the-chops.

This galvanizes the long-suffering residents of the building, which seems to be a boarding house for the United Nations. It also galvanizes Fraker (Gavan O'Herlihy), who, in the movie's "Leave It to Beaver" parlance, is the leader of the "creeps." So they face off: Fraker with an Uzi, Kersey with something called a Wildey .475 Magnum, a sort of hand-held elephant gun.

Director Michael Winner has always been a bit squeamish for this sort of thing, and "Death Wish III" is no exception; throughout, it cuts away from its own climaxes -- it's death-wishy-washy. The street scenes look like sound stages. The politics are inane, the music (by former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page) silly, the acting wooden, the script dead.

The movie's press kit says:

"Senior special effects supervisor JOHN EVANS blew up three stores, one apartment house, five automobiles, burned three buldings to the ground and got through no less than three-and-one-half thousand rounds of machine and small gun ammunition in the interests of his art."

Well, there you have it.

Death Wish III, at area theaters, is rated R and contains considerable violence, nudity and sexual situations.