The Evil That Men Do (film)

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The Evil That Men Do
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJ. Lee Thompson
Produced byPancho Kohner
Written byJohn Crowther
David Lee Henry
Based onThe Evil That Men Do
by R. Lance Hill
Music byKen Thorne
CinematographyJavier Ruvalcaba Cruz
Edited byEnrique Estevez
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures
Release date
  • September 21, 1984 (1984-09-21)
Running time
90 minutes
United States[1]
United Kingdom
Budget$4.6 million[2]
Box office$13.1 million[3]

The Evil That Men Do is a 1984 Mexican-American-British action thriller film directed by J. Lee Thompson, and starring Charles Bronson, Theresa Saldana, and Joseph Maher. The film was adapted by David Lee Henry and John Crowther from the novel of the same name by R. Lance Hill. Bronson plays a former assassin, who comes out of retirement to avenge the death of his journalist friend.

The movie marks the fifth collaboration between Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson (following 1976's St. Ives, 1977's The White Buffalo, 1980's Caboblanco, and 1983's 10 to Midnight).


Holland is a former CIA assassin who lives quietly and peacefully on the Cayman Islands. He is persuaded out of retirement by the death of Jorge Hidalgo, a friend and dissident journalist. Hidalgo was murdered by Clement Molloch, a Welsh doctor who lives in Guatemala. Molloch is an expert in the science of torture and sells his knowledge and skills to any government that can pay his price. He lives under government protection in Guatemala.

Holland is hired by Hector Lomelin, a professor and friend of Hidalgo. He poses as a family man and is accompanied to Guatemala by Hidalgo's widow Rhiana and daughter Sarah.

Holland kills several of Molloch's men, and then kidnaps his sister Claire, allegedly for ransom. She is killed during a chase by thugs hired by the US ambassador, who has used Molloch for his own purposes in the past. Molloch, believing his sister is still alive, meets Holland at a remote location to pay the ransom. He's kidnapped Hidalgo's daughter Sarah and holds her in exchange for his sister. Local miners know that Molloch has tortured their family members and attack him with pick and shovel. Sarah, her mother Rhiana, and Holland leave his death in the hands of the local people.


Additional actors included Enrique Lucero as Aristos; Roger Cudney as Cannell; Constanza Hool as Isabel Lomelin; and Joe Seneca as Santiago.



The movie's first draft was written by the novel's writer, R. Lance Hill (as per the terms of his contract).[2] John Crowther was hired to rewrite the draft in the spring of 1982.[2] Crowther was originally hired on a weekly contract, but when the producers realized the extent to which the script needed rewriting, it was drastically extended. Prior to rewriting the film's screenplay, Crowther had written the martial-arts, action movie Kill and Kill Again. Crowther had known Pancho Kohner—the movie's producer—for many years.[2] It was Kohner who hired him to rewrite the script.[2] In addition to this, Crowther had worked on Bronson's earlier movies.[2] For example, he was an uncredited writer on Love and Bullets;[2] and a casting director on 10 to Midnight.[2] According to Crowther, Hill's script was of poor quality, and the producers knew that it would need "major rewrites".[2] In Crowther's opinion, there were "holes" in the logic of Hill's script.[2] He gave an example where, in the novel, Molloch is said to have better security than an "Israeli Mossad". But in the reality of Hill's script, Molloch merely has "three lame-os" providing him with security.[2] Crowther called Hill's premise "ridiculous".[2] Crowther felt that it was a constant challenge to rewrite the script.[2] To make the movie more interesting, seven of the novel’s minor characters were cut from the script.[2] In addition to this, a number of vignettes were also cut, including: Moloch’s surreal dream of being tortured in a concentration camp by Josef Mengele.[2]



The cast and crew went to Mexico to begin filming the movie in March, 1983.[2] By shooting the movie in Mexico, the producers saved a lot of money.[2] There was no sound stage, and everything was shot on location.[2] Producer Pancho Kohner and executive producer Lance Hool were on set for the entire time of filming.[2] Bronson was contracted to film at least eight hours a day. According to Crowther, because Bronson's family was with him on set, he wouldn't work more hours than what was stated in his contract.[2] The cast and crew had a lot of respect for the movie's director.[2] Kohner said that during filming, Thompson was very proficient and knew exactly what shots he wanted to capture.[2]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 40% of five surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 4.8/10.[4] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that audiences want to see Bronson kill people, and the film delivers many audience-pleasing kills.[5] Time Out London called it "a clumsy catalogue of pain and death".[6] Fred Lutz of the Toledo Blade identified the film as a comeback for Bronson.[7] Dan Lorentz of the Milwaukee Sentinel wrote that the film is violent and exploitative, but it will probably satisfy fans of Bronson.[8]


  1. ^ "The Evil that Men Do". British Film Institute. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Talbot, Paul. "CINEMA RETRO SPECIAL REPORT: PAUL TALBOT ON ... Celebrating Films of the 1960s & 1970s,, February 01, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  3. ^ "The Evil That Men Do". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  4. ^ "The Evil That Men Do (1984)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (1984-09-22). "The Evil That Men Do (1984)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  6. ^ "The Evil That Men Do". Time Out London. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  7. ^ Lutz, Fred (1984-09-21). "Bronson More Likeable, Credible In 'Evil' Film". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  8. ^ Lorentz, Dan (1984-09-28). "'Evil' for Bronson Fans fr rudrscrrnly". Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-02-16.

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