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The Harder They Come (DVD + CD)

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$12.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 9 left in stock. Sold by Mercury Media Partners and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

WITH A PIECE IN HIS HAND HE TAKES ON THE MAN! Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff stars as Ivanhoe "Ivan" Martin, an aspiring young singer who leaves his rural village for the city of Kingston, hoping to make a name for himself. Robbed of his money and possessions his first day in town, he finds work with a self-righteous, bullying preacher, and an unscrupulous music mogul who exploits young hopefuls. In desperation, the simple country boy turns outlaw, at war with both the police and his rivals in the ganja trade. Ivan’s dream of stardom soon becomes reality as he rises to the top of the pop charts and the most-wanted lists. This gritty, groundbreaking film brought reggae music to the international stage, made Jimmy Cliff a star, and demonstrated that music and art can change the world.


"4 stars. Ultimate edition of reggae classic...must-have stuff" -- Rolling Stone

"Timeless and universal...nothing short of amazing" -- Los Angeles Times

Among the "Top 100 Rock & Roll Films" -- Blender Magazine

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley, Carl Bradshaw, Ras Daniel Hartman, Basil Keane
  • Directors: Perry Henzell
  • Writers: Perry Henzell, Trevor D. Rhone
  • Producers: Perry Henzell, Chris Blackwell, Jeff Scheftel, S. Leigh Savidge, Stephen A. Housden
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Restored
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Xenon
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BT9966
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,226 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Harder They Come (DVD + CD)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Ted VINE VOICE on June 1, 2004
Format: DVD
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
Jamaica's first feature film is also the most famous. The film made reggae music popular in the US, influnced people to vout out the conservative government in Jamaica, and brought singer Jimmy Cliff to international stardom.
The film is about a young man aspired to become a famous singer. He performs for a record company, but is offered only $20 for the song. He thinks it is worth more but finally agrees on the $20. He later gets in trouble with the law and becomes even more famous as an outlaw.
I strongly recommend that you watch the film with subtitles, as many of the characters speak in a thick Patois accent.
The film has a R rating for profanity, violence, sexual content, and nudity.
The soundtrack to the film remains a big hit even today and it is said that even Bob Marley would be an unknown if it weren't for this film.
The criterion DVD has an exclusive interview with Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records.
There are also biographies and discographies of several musicians who helped witht he film's music. It also has full-length audio commentary by actor Jimmy Cliff and Perry Henzell, who wrote and directed the film.
This film is a must see for reggae music lovers!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By P Magnum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 13, 2003
Format: DVD
1973's The Harder They Come is something of the Jamaican version of Bonnie & Clyde or Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, but with a singular lead character instead of duo. Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff stars as Ivan Martin, who at the start of the film arrives in Kingston from the country with dreams of stardom as a singer. After struggling to find work, he is taken in by a preacher (Basil Keane) and falls in love with the preacher's ward, Elsa (Janet Barkley). After using the church to practice his song, the preacher kicks both Ivan and Elsa out of the house. Ivan eventually gets a chance to record his song, the movie's title track, but the producer, Hilton, does not offer him riches, only $20.00. Ivan decides not to sign the contract releasing the song to Hilton and tries to sell the record himself. What he finds out is that Hilton controls not only the recording studio, but the radio stations, record stores and club DJ's as well. Ivan goes back to Hilton and accepts the $20.00. With basically no money to support Elsa and himself, he is taken in by Jose (Carl Bradshaw) who is the local ganja dealer. Jose teams Ivan up with Pedro (Ras Daniel Hartman) to push drugs. The drug trafficking is like everything else that Ivan runs across in Kingston, rife with corruption, being run by the local police. Ivan doesn't like the pay out he is getting from Jose, feeling he is doing all the work and getting none of the reward. Jose thinks Ivan has become nothing but trouble, so he tells the cops to arrest him. When Ivan is being pulled over by a cop, he shoots and kills him instead of surrendering. He gets caught in another showdown with the police, killing several more cops.Read more ›
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By chuck on November 5, 2000
Format: DVD
The Harder They Come is raw power. Filmed in Kingston, Jamaica, the film stars Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, a country-boy who comes to the big city to make a better life for himself. Ivan wants his life desperately to matter for something; he wants to be somebody. This movie is about that journey---a journey to be somebody; to matter.
Ivan's dream is to be a singer and to make records, but he soon finds himself a pawn in the ganja (marijuana) trade. In his journey, Ivan bears witness to the record industry, the church, the police, and the drug traders. And within them all he sees institutional corruption and oppression of the poor. Ultimately, Ivan becomes an outlaw hero with gun in hand.
The movie infuses drama and music to great effect. Reggae, of course, is the music of The Harder They Come. In addition to Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytalls are featured as musicians within the movie. "The Harder They Come" is not only the name of the movie, but it is also the name of hero Ivan's hit record within the movie. The making of that record (when Ivan dons the gold-star shirt) is one of my favorite music-in-movie scenes. It is just plain real; Real music, real vibe...and real darn good.
The DVD features a commentary by the director Perry Henzell and star Jimmy Cliff. They are recorded separately and offer up some fascinating details about not only the film, but life in Jamaica in general. They also touch on The Harder They Come's impact on Jamaica's being a cultural and artistic force in the world today. The director's struggle to keep the production as unprofessional (and hence, "real") is both admirable and nearly comical. He actually winces at the performance of one of the few professional actor's in the production (Lucia White, who plays Ivan's mother).
Read more ›
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59 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Art on September 23, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was extremely disappointed, on buying this DVD, to discover that the new, restored version is not an anamorphic transfer. It blows my mind that in this day and age, a historic film like this would be restored, remastered and released without using the best possible format.

More's the pity, as it appears that the actual transfer is an improvement over the earlier Criterion version. Nonetheless, this is an expensive "Deluxe" release, and those with widescreen TVs will undoubtedly want to wait until there is an anamorphic version (I should note that if you watch this on a widescreen TV, and zoom in so the picture fills the screen, you will not be able to read all the subtitles!). Those without fancy home-theater equipment are probably better off looking for a used copy of one of the previous releases.

It's truly sad that so much work was apparently put into the restoration of the actual film, and then a second-rate DVD was produced from it. I honestly can't recommend this DVD for anyone, especially given the list price, and would recommend that people wait for (and demand) a definitive anamorphic release of this all-time classic.
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Does anyone know what's "special" about this "30th Anniv. 'Special'...
I would Like to know too, the difference between the criterion, 30th anniversary edition and the edition that comes with the music CD.
May 29, 2012 by M. Mont |  See all 2 posts
Is this the real 1973 version? Be the first to reply
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