Revisiting Donato and Daughter (1993) with Charles Bronson

Plot: An out-of-favor policeman (Charles Bronson) hunts a serial killer with his daughter (Dana Delany) who outranks him on the force.

Released a year before Death Wish V, Donato and Daughter (AKA Dead to Rights which is a better title) is a TV movie that started off as a pilot but was never picked up; it’s more of a crime drama than an action picture but we still get see Charles Bronson throw perps down stairs and we get a couple of minor shoot-outs too.

The story and characters are a highlight with Bronson playing an aging cop called Mike Donato who has to work with his daughter Dena (Dana Delany) to try and stop a serial killer from raping and murdering Nuns.

*Spoiler warning* even though this isn’t much of a spoiler as his name is listed in the credits and the serial killer’s identity isn’t a secret from the audience but the always reliable Xander Berkeley is well cast as the killer Russ Loring. He’s arrogant and enjoys taunting the police to the point where we hate him every second he’s on screen. His Terminator 2 co-star Jeanette Goldstein also makes an appearance but as soon as she announces she’s pregnant you know she has “dead meat” written all over her.

It’s just under 90 minutes so it doesn’t overstay its welcome and personally I enjoyed the character interactions between Mike and Dena as they have a complicated but believable relationship. Dena is every bit as tough and stubborn as he is but Mike is just trying to protect his family after what happened to his son Tommy. Bronson is more than just a tough guy here and the performances are generally impressive all-round. Considering it’s made for television it also has some mildly gruesome moments where the killer cuts off one of his victim’s fingers.

Overall, Donato and Daughter may not be prime Bronson but this is still a well made crime drama with a few moments of action and genuinely engaging family struggles making it an entertaining 90 minutes.