Release Date: June 26th, 1974
Directed by: Gordon Parks Jr.
Written by: Eric Bercovici, Jerrold L. Ludwig
Music by: The Impressions
Cast: Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Jim Kelly, Alex Rocco, Corbin Bernsen
Allied Artists Pictures Corporation, 89 Minutes (DVD), 105 Minutes (TV), 93 Minutes (theatrical)
Three The Hard Way is a film I have heard a lot about for several years. Philly rapper Bahamadia did a great song that referenced it on her first album. Other rappers and film buffs have also talked about it since I started paying attention to pop culture. Well, it wasn’t until now that I finally got to check it out.
The film is bad ass simply for the fact that it stars three bad asses from the height of the blaxploitation film era: Jim Brown (Slaughter, Black Gunn), Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, Boss Nigger) and Jim Kelly (Black Belt Jones, Enter The Dragon). All this movie needed was Rudy Ray Moore and Richard Roundtree and we could’ve had a 1970s black Expendables. That can still be made, right? Most of these guys are still alive, right?
The film sees these three men working together to stop a plot by white supremacists out to eliminate the black population by poisoning the water supply of major cities with a chemical that is only harmful to the black race. Bad science aside, the evil whites in this picture are pretty ballsy and potentially stupid in trying to hatch a plan like this. They probably failed biology and chemistry.
Anyway, this picture has a lot of great action. It also has some pretty impressive scenes of vehicular destruction. It feels as if the budget on this thing is bigger than it actually is.
On the flip side, the film isn’t as exciting as I had hoped. It has real gravitas and it has three men who could scare off a tiger with just a glance in its general direction but it is just lacking something. It is almost too serious and not as stylistic and playful as a lot of the other blaxploitation films. I’m not saying that it needs to be a cookie cutter effort but it could’ve used a bit more humor, at least with the camaraderie between the heroes.
It is still a good movie and it is nice to see a film in the genre take itself a bit more seriously but it is hard to see it as such when the evil plot within the film is so ridiculous. For comparison sake, imagine sending in Daniel Craig’s James Bond to stop an evil scheme from Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers films, that’s kind of what this feels like.
At the very least, Three The Hard Way is a journey alongside three of the biggest black action stars of the 1970s. It is still fun, bad ass and an entertaining picture.