Film Review: Hit! (1973)

Release Date: September 18th, 1973
Directed by: Sidney J. Furie
Written by: Alan Trustman, David M. Wolf
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Cast: Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor

Paramount Pictures, 134 Minutes

Review:

“You know the government pays me $18,000 to be a computer programmer. I’d trade every single cent… just for one night with you.” – Esther

I recently got the Amazon Video subscription add-on Brown Sugar. It’s a streaming service that showcases black cinema and television shows but also has a huge library of blaxploitation pictures, which immediately justified the $3.99 monthly fee. Perusing their library, I came across this. It’s a film I have never heard of before but since it stars both Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor, I had to click “play”.

Sadly, it didn’t live up to the expectations I had in my mind.

The story is about an FBI agent (Williams) that comes to find his daughter dead after she overdosed. His superiors take him off of the case, as he’s too close to it. So Billy Dee goes rogue, forms his own badass squad and goes after the drug pushers responsible.

The main problem with the film is that it is too long. The length draws the movie out way too much and honestly, this story could and should have been told over ninety minutes and not over nearly two and a half hours. It made the film slow and drab and it actually felt like it was three hours. It had some good moments and a few high points but it was jam packed with so much filler that it was like Taco Bell beef instead of a nice juicy Angus steak. It could have been that Angus steak.

Also, the ending just felt really anticlimactic after sitting through this long, drawn out epic.

Now the acting was good. I liked Williams in this a lot and Richard Pryor was great in his parts. There just wasn’t much else to sink your teeth into.

It was directed by Sidney J. Furie though and that right there could be the crux of the problem. Not to bash the guy but he also directed the abysmal Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, some of the Iron Eagle movies and some other major duds. Granted, this is better than all of those films and he did helm The Appaloosa and Lady Sings the Blues, both of which were well regarded to some degree.

Hit! just isn’t as good of a film as it should have been. In an era of badass blaxploitation movies, it lacks excitement and gravitas. It really isn’t a true blaxploitation film though and maybe that’s why it misses its mark.

2 thoughts on “Film Review: Hit! (1973)

  1. I just watched it, and Furie really screwed up what could have been a great movie. He nailed casting, but let me just say now, this isn’t any kind of Blaxploitation film (people just assume “Black people in lead roles in a 70’s movie” means Blaxploitation). How can you call it Blaxploitation when there’s only two black characters worth talking about?

    Reportedly, Billy Dee Williams’ character was originally conceived for Steve McQueen. You can see that in the way Williams beautifully underplays the final scene, keeping it cool in the face of death. I’d say he did it better than McQueen could have. Gwen Welles is also terrific. But the movie is a mess. With the right script, and tighter editing, they could have really done something with it. I guess Furie wanted to go for the more languid pace of European thrillers. And long movies were getting popular.

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    • “It really isn’t a true blaxploitation film though and maybe that’s why it misses its mark.” Right, there, the last sentence in the review, I state that it isn’t blaxploitation. But blaxploitation is brought up in the review simply for the fact that when this came out, it’s going to draw those comparisons. And based off of the film’s title, poster and marketing, it’s sort of pigeonholing itself with those comparisons.

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