The Harder They Come, dir. Perry Henzell, Jamaica 1972, 102 min., English, 15
Exactly 50 years on from its original release, Perry Henzell’s classic portrait of Jamaican life and culture retains every ounce of its thrilling appeal, highlighted by a star turn from one of reggae’s greatest voices, Jimmy Cliff.
Dirt poor and down on his luck, Ivanhoe Martin (Cliff) heads from his rural Jamaican home to the urban jungle of Kingston in search of work. He eventually lucks into a music studio, where he’s paid $20 for recording a song called ‘The Harder They Come’. By the time it soars up the charts, Martin is on the run from a police force almost as bent as the criminals they pursue. Henzell’s film and Cliff’s soundtrack introduced the public to reggae and its homeland back in 1972 and The Harder They Come remains an essential primer to both.
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