By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on December 14, 2019)
The Harder They Come – Shout! Factory
While the Jamaican film industry didn’t experience an identifiable “new wave” until the early 80s, Perry Henzel’s 1973 rebel cinema classic laid the foundation for the likes of films like Dickie Jobson’s Countryman and Theodoros Bafaloukos’ Rockers. From its opening scene, when wide-eyed country boy Ivan (reggae’s original superstar, Jimmy Cliff) hops off a Jolly Bus in the heart of Kingston to the strains of Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, to a blaze of glory finale, it maintains an ever-forward momentum, pulsating all the while to the heartbeat riddim of an iconic soundtrack.
Shout Factory’s 4K scan is taken from the original 16mm negative; although it should be pointed out that this is not a “restoration”, per se (i.e., I noticed occasional scratches and debris in the image). Image quality on previous transfers has been consistently problematic.
That said, this is the third (or maybe fourth?) home video version that I have owned over the years, so I can attest that Shout Factory’s 2019 Blu-ray can boast the best image and sound quality yet. I haven’t plowed through all the extras yet, but the 52-minute feature “A Hard Road to Travel” is an enlightening look at the production history.