In 1972 a record came out called The Harder They Come. It was one of the most influential recordings of all time. It brought Reggae and Ska to an American audience. It was so immensely popular both her and in Jamaica it ranks 119 on Rolling Stones greatest albums of all-time list. It took a form of music that was at the time only played in Jamaica and made it an international success. Jimmy Cliff, the man responsible for the music was granted the highest honor that can be given from the Jamaican government for his work. He is one of only two musicians to hold the Order of Merit. And this album in question is actually a simple soundtrack from the film The Harder They Come.
The Harder They Come stars singer Jimmy Cliff as Ivan Martin. He has just moved to Kingston Jamaica to live with his mother when he meets a man named Jose who take shim to see Django. The original Django, the best western ever made. He loves it and begins to love big city living, as he came from a small town. He manages to get a couple odd jobs, working for a church and running errand for a record producer. He finds and rebuilds an old bicycle for a means of transportation. He also writes songs. One of those is called “The Harder They Come” He ends up recording it for a record company but only makes $20.00. He needs money so Jose gets him a job selling weed.
Things are going good for Ivan until he demands more money from Jose for all the work he is doing. Jose doesn’t take kindly to this and sets Ivan up to get busted on his next deal. Things go south when the cop stops him, but Ivan grabs a gun and shoots the cop. He escapes only to be cornered again by multiple cops who he shoots down. Not only does the heat get turned up high on Ivan, but on all the other drug dealers in the area who are shaken down by the cops looking for Ivan.
Now as all of this is going on the record company decides to start playing his song as he is now basically a local celebrity for being a cop killer. The song hits it big, thus creating even more pressure on Ivan to escape the country. So he can hopefully live out the life of a Reggae superstar.
Filmed in Jamaica on a small budget the film was an instant hit. The accents in the film are so strong that when the film made its way to the states subtitles were actually added. It was a big hit during the midnight movie boom of the 70’s in NY and was praised by critics and fans alike. Its considered a classic and it has been updated to not only a novel, but as a stage play in the UK as well. The soundtrack, as I stated in the beginning was a hit that brought Reggae music into American culture.
Cliff, who had not acted before this film was absolutely fantastic as Ivan. He gives a great performance and even came to the states to perform on Saturday Night Live in 1975. He did not pursue acting as his main focus unfortunately and continued to concentrate on his music career, which was incredibly successful. He recorded man albums that were both popular here as well as in Jamaica. He even worked on the Hakuna Matata song from the Lion King soundtrack. And for genre fans he was also heard in the Steven Seagal masterpiece Marked For Death.
The Harder They Come has had many various releases on home video here in the states, but now its getting the full treatment it so richly deserves. Shout Factory under their Shout Select Banner has picked this up and given it the collectors edition it needs. The video is simply outstanding. It looks as though it was filmed yesterday with digital camera its so clean. The audio, especially the soundtrack thunders through your speakers. This is a beautiful release of a classic film, that Shout Factory is famous for. And not only do you get a ton of extras on this 3 disc set you even get director Perry Henzels lost film No Place Like Home. Look at all of this
DISC 1: THE HARDER THEY COME
· NEW 4K Scan From The Original 16mm Negative
· NEW Audio Commentary With Author David Katz (Jimmy Cliff: An Unauthorized Biography)
· "One And All: The Phenomenon Of The Harder They Come"
· "Hard Road To Travel: The Making Of The Harder They Come"
· Vintage Interviews With Actor Jimmy Cliff, Producer Arthur Gorson And Director Perry Henzell
· Interview With Director Of Photography David MacDonald
· Interview With Line Producer Yvonne Brewster
· "The Harder They Come" Music Video
· Still Gallery
DISC 2: NO PLACE LIKE HOME
· NEW Restoration From The Original 16mm Film Elements
· NEW Audio Commentary With Sally Henzell, David Garonzik, Cookie Kinkaed, And Arthur Gorson
· NEW "Perry Henzell: A Filmmaker's Odyssey"
· NEW "Rise Up From The Cutting Room Floor" – The Restoration Of No Place Like Home
· NEW Audio Bonus Feature – P.J. Soles Original Vocal Track And Original Acoustic Guitar Demo By Steven Soles For The Song “World Full Of Beauty”
· Theatrical Trailer
DISC 3: BONUS DISC – The Legacy Of Perry Henzell: A Story Of Jamaican Cinema
· NEW "Filmin' In The Gully" – Anatomy Of Three Scenes – With Cinematographer Franklyn “Chappy” St. Juste
· NEW "Duppies In The Control Room" – Dynamic Sounds Studios Then And Now
· NEW "10A – Jamaica's Film Yard" – The Story Of Perry Henzell's Kingston Home And Production Center – Featuring Sally Henzell, Jason Henzell, Justine Henzell, And More
· NEW A Conversation With Sir Ridley Scott
· NEW "Out Of Many: One Filmmaker" – The Disciples Of Perry Henzell”
· NEW "Everyone A Star: The Original Cast" – Including Actors P.J. Soles, Carl Bradshaw, And Winston Stona
· NEW “Big Heap Of Help: The Original Supporting Team” – Interviews With Perry’s Personal Assistant Beverly Manley And More
· NEW “Roots: The Family Henzell” – Including Interviews With Sally Henzell, Justine Henzell, And Jason Henzell
· NEW “How Perry Rocked The World” – Interviews With Historian Chris Salewicz, Composer Steven Soles, And More
· NEW “Live From The Reggae Awards” – Interviews Conducted At The Jaria Awards, Kingston’s Annual Music Awards Show
This is a great film, that should be viewed by everyone. It truly was a revolutionary game changer in terms of cinema and music. It shows what a small film can accomplish. The story, slightly based on a real criminal is very intriguing and the acting like I stated is top notch. It’s a must own for any film fans collection.
Overall 3.5 out of 5 Stars