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The Harder They Come Reviews

This outstanding Jamaican feature became a major cult favorite in the US and did much to popularize reggae with its fabulous musical score. Reggae star Jimmy Cliff plays Ivan, a young aspiring singer from the country who arrives in Kingston with high hopes of becoming a recording star. Work is hard to come by, however, and after a rude awakening on the city streets, Ivan becomes a handyman for a local preacher. When an argument over a bicycle escalates into a knife fight, Ivan is sent to jail. After his release he moves in with the preacher's ward, Elsa (Bartley), and pursues the island's biggest record producer, Hilton (Charlton). Eventually he gets the chance to record "The Harder They Come." However Ivan balks when Hilton offers him a paltry $20 for the song. The producer retaliates by releasing the record without any promotion. Penniless, Ivan has no choice but to get involved in the lucrative but dangerous marijuana trade. As his criminal notoriety grows so do his record sales. THE HARDER THEY COME is a gritty, realistic view of urban Jamaica that reveals the squalor of shantytowns tourists never see. Cliff delivers a charismatic and memorable performance as a young man who is determined to become famous, mirroring his own real-life ascendence to worldwide fame as a reggae artist. Despite the ostensible show-business plot, this film most resembles a 1930s gangster film with its relentless depiction of regrettable social conditions, police corruption and the lure of illicit cash. The filmmaking is a bit crude at times but it packs an emotional wallop.