The Harder They Come 1973

The Harder They Come

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91%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 34

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,589

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Movie Info

Ivanhoe Martin (Jimmy Cliff) arrives in Kingston, Jamaica, looking for work and, after some initial struggles, lands a recording contract as a reggae singer. He records his first song, "The Harder They Come," but after a bitter dispute with a manipulative producer named Hilton (Bob Charlton), soon finds himself resorting to petty crime in order to pay the bills. He deals marijuana, kills some abusive cops and earns local folk hero status. Meanwhile, his record is topping the charts.

Cast & Crew

Jimmy Cliff
Ivan Martin
Winston Stona
Det. Ray Jones
Lucia White
Mother
Jimmy Cliff
Original Music
Desmond Dekker
Original Music
Brent Dowe
Original Music
Peter Jessop
Cinematographer
David McDonald
Cinematographer
Franklyn St. Juste
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for The Harder They Come

Critic Reviews for The Harder They Come

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (3)

  • The Harder They Come is always exuberant, and sometimes strong, as casually surprising and effortlessly sinister as the blade sliding out of a gravity knife.

    October 2, 2015 | Full Review…
  • With this 1972 cult hit, Jamaican filmmaker Perry Henzell produced a proud, forthright indictment of national and personal corruption.

    October 2, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Atrocious acting, amateurish camerawork and a hackneyed story line all make for one painful slog.

    June 5, 2012 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The definitive postcolonial cult-movie musical.

    June 5, 2012 | Full Review…
  • Perry Henzell emerges a director with a solid visual flair who can mix action and inchoate rage sans excess to give the film a taut pacing and use the local color and a basically predictable tale with a few new twists.

    May 27, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The action is as gutsy as the well-integrated score, which makes the movie's Hollywood-style gloss a little anomalous, but the basic humour and toughness emerge unscathed.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Tony Rayns

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Harder They Come

  • Oct 15, 2012
    This is probably the most well-known and important film to come from Jamaica. And, while it might not have been intentional, you could also lump this in as a blaxploitation film if you so desired. In his acting debut, we get musician Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, a young man from the country who comes to Kingston to try to make a better life for himself. He dreams of hitting it big as a music star, and, while that does happen, he gets caught up in the world of being an outlaw as well. The story has the familiar ring of rags to riches, dealing with fame and success, but ultimately gets saved by a solid lead performance, and a superb reggae soundtrack provided by Cliff, The Maytals, and a few others. Also, it is my understanding that this film was also the first time where wide audiences were shown a clear divide between the Jamaica of the tourism industry, and how it really is. It's not so revelatory now, but I'm sure this was quite something back in the early 70s. Thankfully the film is merely showing and telling it like it is, as opposed to being an exploitative venture into the dark underbelly of a supposed paradise. This revealing of how it is also includes jabs as the country's music scene, and the inherent corruption involved with it. I dug this film a lot, but I don't think it's quite the landmark as its often labeled. Don't get me wrong, it's is quite good, but it didn't grab me like it has a lot of others. It's worth seeing though, especially if you dig reggae, and, if you're not familiar with Jamaica, the film does have occasional subtitles, which are nice since sometimes the accents are so thick, and the manner of speaking is so strong that the film would be all but incomprehensible otherwise for non-natives. All in all, this is a pretty good time. It's a tad overrated, but enjoyable nonetheless.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 30, 2011
    A must see for anyone interested in Reggae music. A totally authentic look at Kingston in the early 1970's.
    Graham J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 12, 2010
    It makes up in talent what it lacks in budget. Amazing songs, feeling of sheer authenticity, social commentary and gripping guerrilla filmmaking
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer
  • Apr 13, 2010
    This great movie is very underrated... Amazing story, actors and music.
    Cita W Super Reviewer

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