The Harder They Come - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Harder They Come Reviews

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½ December 14, 2016
Great soundtrack, terribly made movie that barely makes any sense.
½ November 7, 2016
Entertaining if not incredibly professional. OK story, fabulous music by Jimmy Cliff. The first Jamaican movie, mon!
November 4, 2016
A groundbreaking movie when released in the 70's bringing Reggae to the rest of the World. still a great watch in 2016. A no frills movie with a good storyline and good editing and direction. Some good songs too, as expected !
½ September 25, 2016
Reading Danny Peary's review in the 1980 book Cult Movies, and trying to tease out how much my reading of both is confounded by coming 36 years later:
-Peary finds Cliff "too sexual for most whites to feel comfortable with". Reminds me that he also hit an odd note harping on Bruce Lee as 'sexual.'
-talks about the apolitical black American audience. The movie's distribution aimed it at them, and they failed to be interested in this movie.
-subheadings about Ivan's contact with "the island's major cultural influences" - Christianity, the record business, the ganja trade, the Rastafarians, the police/government, and outlaw mythology - and gives some great contextual information.
Speaking for myself, it was a bit hard to sit through, watching late at night. Often because I couldn't make sense of a lot of Ivan's actions: wheeling around a golf course? Sometimes they seemed real enough, but really unfortunate: wheedling to get the keys to the church, where you know he'll get caught. Buying ever flashier clothes despite being skint. Shooting Jose's girl. But Peary totally nails it: he's not an easy protagonist to get on board with, and maybe that's especially true if you're white and middle class.
½ May 12, 2016
Good music but weak plot and performances.

Jamaica. A young man from the country, Ivanhoe "Ivan" Martin (played by Jimmy Cliff) heads into the city after his grandmother dies. He tries to get work, with little success, but his dream is to become a music star. He gets a single recorded but, though the song is popular, he doesn't get much out of it - the record company has the upper hand. In desperation he turns to crime.

A reasonably historic film in that this was the first feature film produced in Jamaica. The movie also introduced reggae music to a wider audience.

On that note, the music in the movie is great, and gives the movie a great vibe.

However, the rest of the movie leaves much to be desired. Plot is pretty basic. It started off struggling to find a focus, but then when it does, it is pretty unoriginal, predictable and one-dimensional.

No real character depth. You don't really feel that engaged with the character of Ivan. What little engagement you had goes out the window once he starts shooting people.

Jimmy Cliff is okay in the lead role but the remaining cast are pretty wooden. Some quite cringeworthy acting at times.
January 18, 2016
A wonderful, gritty, exciting film, maybe the best Jamaican film ever, certainly the best reggae film ever. A real treat for fans of reggae and fans of poverty-row gangster pics. If you aren't a bonafide Jimmy Cliff fan after seeing this, there's something wrong with you.
½ November 13, 2015
Not a bad flick, great music for sure. A real Jamaican feel to it.
April 28, 2015
Similar to Scarface/Goodfellas- but independent and with much less production. Has real heart(instead of loyalty-first) and less glitz- also with funky bass instead of Tony's killer lines.
½ January 18, 2015
Interesting tale and good soundtrack. Acting was subpar but didn't detract from the quality overall.
November 8, 2014
I watched this flick with a friend who made a request for this film. If you can understand the strong Jamaican accents, by all means, watch it. I needed the closed captions. But even with the closed captions, the arrangement of the flavortext was difficult to understand, and most of this film is conversation. The cast is unique, and act with passion on queue.
January 29, 2014
one of my all time favourite movies
December 19, 2013
A very unique film which includes an entertaining soundtrack that introduced Reggae around the world.
½ December 15, 2013
This felt like a low-budget, poorly edited City of God.
September 3, 2013
Omg! I saw this at least 5 times when it opened in Berkeley back in 1973! One of the all time greatest musical scores of all times! Playing tonight @Arclight Hollywood @8pm!
August 6, 2013
Written and directed by Perry Henzell, this was the first feature film to be produced in Jamaica, even though the country had been a location for many international production, this was their first film. The Harder They Come received international recognition for it's breakthrough reggae soundtrack album, which became more popular than the film itself, but the film is a great timepiece of Jamaica emerging as an international cultural powerhouse. Ivanhoe Martin (Jimmy Cliff) is a Jamaican living in poverty, who just wants to get a break in life. He lives out in the country, and goes to Kingston to live with his mother (Lucia White), mainly to start again after the death of his sister. After trying to find God with overzealous Preacher (Basil Keane), Ivanhoe gets lucky by being given the chance to record a song, but to Ivanhoe's dismay, he discovers the only way he can get his record to be a hit is if he signs away the rights to the song. After being ripped off, this leads to Ivanhoe turning to a life of crime, pushing marjuana for drug dealer Jose (Carl Bradshaw) in Kingston, however one drug deal goes horribly wrong and Ivanhoe ends up on the run across Jamaica, and Jose ends up ratting Ivanhoe out to the police. This is a film which is still heavy going to this day, some of it is hard to watch even now, and it has a raw energy that comes out well. It was banned in Jamaica claiming it would cause "hooliganism", but it was a hit in America thanks to Roger Corman, who put it on the midnight movie circuit, making the film a cult hit, along with the unforgettable soundtrack.
June 9, 2013
Highly unlikely to stimulate this generation of audiences but its label as a Jamaican cult classic is understandable.
½ March 13, 2013
This cult Jamaican film was one of the major factors in reggae becoming popular outside of Jamaica and in the United States. Jimmy Cliff, an actual reggae star, plays a young wannabe singer who ends up in the Marijuana trade and turns to violence and on the run from the cops, with his music career never truly taking off. It is a solid movie that failed initially at the US box office for a few reasons: firstly, a film with thick Jamaican accents is a tough sell to most mainstream audiences; and secondly it was marketed as a blaxploitation film and really shouldn't have. I liked the film, I liked Cliff, and I liked the music.
December 16, 2012
Gear. Great Soundtrack also.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 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.
November 1, 2012
I'm going to be like most everyone else and say that the soundtrack rocked but that the movie itself was just okay. The actors just seemed so zombified and emotionless. And it was a tad dated. But it was an interesting look at a particular time in history; I can imagine this playing in midnight theaters.
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