Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Original Title: Three the Hard Way
Year: 1974
Director: Gordon Parks Jr.
Writer: Eric Bercovici, Jerrold L. Ludwig
Genre: Blaxploitation, Crime, Action

The story involves a white supremist plot to taint the United States water supply with a toxin that is harmless to whites but lethal to blacks. The only obstacles that stand in the way of this dastardly plan are Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly, who shoot, kick and karate chop their way to final victory.

Whoa... is this the first blaxploitation film I've reviewed here? Odd

Countdownsploitation continues for better or worse. We're takin it all the way to ONE, baby!

Not only am I reviewing my first blaxploitation, we're also taking quite a sharp turn from my little theme here. My original choice for the "two title" was going to be a bloody/horror type film as well, so having 3 heavies with machine guns in a ridiculous action film is a welcome change. I've since changed up my two to keep things mixed a bit. And confession time again, this is another one I watched a month ago, and I have seen 80 (holy fuck) films since then.

Jesus I need a life.

So pardon a very abbreviated review here to just get the ball rolling. This is professionalism, ladies and gentlemen.

Three The Hard Way stars three huge names in the genre. Jim Brown as record producer Jimmy Lait, Fred Williamson as explosive badass Jagger Daniels, and Jim Kelly as martial arts expert Mister Keyes all team up to thwart a neo-nazi plan to poison black people through the public water system.

Yeah, it's that kind of movie.

The story is pretty absurd obviously. It's not the best written, and honestly the pacing and editing of the story is not that great either. I guess technically speaking Three the Hard Way is kind of a mess. But trust me when I say that there is enough sweet shit going on here to keep even moderate fans of the genre entertained. Jimmy Lait's wife is kidnapped after Jimmy stumbles into the supremacist group's plan, and he realizes he needs help from his two old buddies Jagger and Mister to help get her back. Oh, and stop the plan too or something.

 His name is Mister because his mama wanted people to show him respect. Yes.

The first 30 minutes of the film crawls just a touch as everything is being set up, with some gunplay and carsplosions thrown in there, but once the three guys are together it's pretty much nonstop for the last hour.

There is a very bizarre interrogation scene that must have inspired Quentin Tarantino as much as anything else he ever saw, that I would be remiss in leaving out of this discussion. Jimmy, Mister, and Jagger want information from a prisoner, and the best way Jagger knows how is through the help of some business acquaintainces of his who specialize in information extraction.

And they ride Kawasaki bikes in a nice colorful formation.

And they are three sweaty, hot, topless chicks.


Seeing this for the first time, I thought the crew coming in was some white-power special task force with the red/white/blue color scheme and the KKK spelled across the front of the three bikes. Bill from Outside The Cinema has since informed me that they are just Kawasaki bikes, and the K is just the logo. Heh...

The visual of the three of them standing all frustrated and out of breath, an Asian, white, and black together, along with the fact that they are chicks kicking this dude's ass and the mystery behind it all is really a great moment in the film, and probably the highlight for me. One can certainly see this type of playfulness and the over-the-top tough chick theme in Tarantino's work.

You get pretty standard performances from the three leads. None of them are award-winning actors as we all know, but fit very well into the genre. Williamson is probably my favorite with his ever-present cigar and natural charisma. Jim Brown is a good serious-minded type character. I think he may have done some of his own stunts, or at the very least the doubles were very well edited. And Jim Kelly... well... he has a six pack and kicks the shit out of people!

Three the Hard way is a whole stinkin messload of fun. It's a silly film but certainly a crowd pleaser. The soundtrack by The Impressions is solid (if not spectacular for the genre), there's plenty of shotgun/machinegun/grenade/carchase/carsplosion action, and Jim Kelly's grunts as he whips ass are pretty hilarious. That dude must have hated wearing a shirt.

Definitely recommended.

Score: 8 / 10

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