Three the Hard Way (1974)

Genres - Action, Drama, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Blaxploitation  |   Release Date - Jun 26, 1974 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

Three The Hard Way captures the blaxploitation genre at its most outrageous and entertaining. The script is pure comic book stuff, with the wild "racist poison" premise being used as a springboard for a string of scenes where the heroes duke it out with the baddies in exotic locations (that is, when they aren't strutting their stuff). It could have been silly if told the wrong way but it plays out as pure drive-in fun here, delivered with style and good humor. Part of this is due to the direction of Gordon Parks, Jr.: he gives the film a breathless pace and handles the action scenes with kinetic flair. Most importantly, he gives his three leads plenty of room to make their presence felt. This was a wise choice because Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly all have charisma to spare and they each bring a different style to the table: Brown has a deadpan "no nonsense" approach, Williamson offers a sly sense of humor and Kelly is all swagger (with the martial arts skills to back it up). The final piece of the puzzle is a catchy song-score by the Impressions -- complete with a plot-synopsizing theme song -- that seals the period charm of the film with its funky, sleek musical stylings. All in all, Three The Hard Way is one of the most purely entertaining films to emerge from the blaxploitation genre and is thus a must for fans.