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The Harder They Come 2010


Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff stars as 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 worldwide, and demonstrates that music and art can change the world.

Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley
1 hour, 42 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Music
Director Perry Henzell
Starring Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley
Supporting actors Carl Bradshaw, Ras Daniel Hartman, Basil Keane, Bob Charlton, Winston Stona, Lucia White, Volair Johnson, Beverly Anderson, Clover Lewis, Elijah Chambers, Prince Buster, Ed 'Bim' Lewis, Bobby Loban, Joanne Dunn, Adrian Robinson, Don Topping, Karl Leslie, Sandra Redwood
Studio Vision Films
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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).
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Format: VHS Tape
The Harder They Come is, on many levels, an extremely important film.
Besides its reputation of being THE film that birthed Jamaican cinema and aside from its dynamic and internationally beloved soundtrack, The Harder They Come is an extremely necessary visual document of Jamaica's eternal class struggle. It contains footage of the Jamaica that existed in the 70s- the boisterousness of the Rialto, the serenity of the country and the desperation of the Dungle.
The film stars Jimmy Cliff (one of Jamaica's most well known singers of all times), Ras Daniel Hartman (a world renowned artist and prominent member of the Rastafarian community) and Carl Bradshaw (one of the most instrumental figures in the Jamaican film community). The movie's basic plotline is drawn from the true life story of the gunman/rude bwoy, Rhygin, who captured the hearts of the entire nation during the late 50s before being gunned down by irate Kingston lawmen.
The Harder They Come is the direct predecessor of later Jamaican film classics such as Rockers and Dancehall Queen. It is crucial viewing not only for all fans of reggae and students of Caribbean cinema, but for those who wish to learn a bit more about the development of modern Jamaica.
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