I don’t know why; maybe it was just a bit of discrimination or typecasting on my part, but what I was expecting from The Harder They Come, Jamaica’s lone entry on the list, was something akin to Cool Runnings. That’s not what I ended up getting, to say the least; this reminded me more of a modern-day Jimmie Blacksmith, with a lot more reggae. That said, while this was going on, I ended up intentionally looking for what was so special or important about this one that warranted adding it to the list, and by the end, I had pretty much come up with nothing. It was a decent film, but that’s really the best I can say about it.
Ivan Martin is a young wannabe reggae singer who’s unable to get a job and occasionally get into scraps of trouble. After essentially weaseling his way into a record studio and cutting a track which he sells for 20 dollars, he is roped by a friend into transporting marijuana, and his life begins to escalate after he ends up shooting a police officer, falling into further crime and disarray, and farther and farther from his wholesome dream of being a singer. First off, just like Kes, the accents are thick as hell, to the point that when the film started I was left wondering why there were no subtitles, before I finally realized that the film was in English. After I got used to that, though, I caught the first traces of a plot, and followed that through its various twists and turns, and then the film ended. That was it. There was a plot, I guess a little bit of characterization, to where you feel a little for Ivan as his life continues to spiral downward, but there was essentially nothing to this one. For the technicals, little can be said; for a 1970s independent picture, they were passable, but nothing special. The only thing, the one saving grace, that this film did end up having that kept it from being an entirely superfluous watch was the reggae music, which has been cited as largely responsible for bringing reggae to the world.
That being said, having this film be responsible for bringing reggae to the world’s attention does not and should not make it an automatic inclusion on this list; it’s not a good enough film for that, and its importance factor is nowhere near relating to the history of the medium of film, opting instead for the medium of music. I can pretty much summarize this one in a single sentence: while the reggae music was a constant highlight, the film itself was nothing remarkable. That’s it. Honestly, this was such a pointless and redundant watch for a film from the list that it should be getting a lower rating from me, but I did like the tunes, so I let it slide a little further than it should’ve. That, of course, may not mean that you will do the same for it yourself.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10