July 19th, 2009

THE HARDER THEY COME (1972) **

Jimmy Cliff comes to Jamaica to become a reggae singer.  Broke and out of work, he turns to singing in a choir and doing odd jobs for an asshole preacher.  When some dude tries to steal his bicycle, he slices that sonofabitch up with a switchblade.  After getting publicly flogged, Cliff cuts a record that doesn’t exactly burn up the charts.  Frustrated, he turns to selling ganja to make money and winds up going on a killing spree; murdering three cops.  Ironically, it’s then that his album starts becoming a hit.  Cliff goes around shooting more people and generally acting like a jerk before the cops pin him down and blow him away.

 

The Harder They Come already had one strike against it in my book because of the constant reggae music.  I pretty much hate reggae but Cliff’s music is a Hell of lot more tolerable than say Bob Marley’s.  Although the title tune isn’t bad, I got tired of hearing the same two or three songs played over and over again.

 

Another obstacle I had to overcome while watching this flick was the impenetrable Jamaican accents.  I could only understand about every 8th word most of the actors were saying.  At least the plot was relatively low maintenance so it was easy to follow.

 

As middling as most of the movie was, I will say that Cliff does have a modicum of screen presence and keeps you watching.  Unfortunately, his character gets downright loathsome by the end of the movie.  I was onboard with Cliff trying to get his record made but I lost all sympathy for him once he started gunning down cops and shooting defenseless naked women. 

 

The Harder They Come is highly regarded in some circles.  I just don’t get it.  If you really want to watch a good movie about Jamaican drug dealers, check out Predator 2 instead.