Reggae star Jimmy Cliff is the principal reason that The Harder They Come was one of the first truly successful films to come out of Jamaica. Cliff plays Ivan, a young would-be singer who finds the going rough when he hits the big city of Kingston. Jailed for participating in a knife fight, Ivan is exploited by a dishonest record-company executive ...
Reggae star Jimmy Cliff is the principal reason that The Harder They Come was one of the first truly successful films to come out of Jamaica. Cliff plays Ivan, a young would-be singer who finds the going rough when he hits the big city of Kingston. Jailed for participating in a knife fight, Ivan is exploited by a dishonest record-company executive upon his release. Turning his back on the establishment, Ivan becomes involved in the marijuana trade. He keeps the police at arm's length by offering them a slice of the action, but ultimately finds himself in the middle of a bloody raid. Ivan kills several cops and escapes, whereupon the duplicitous record exec releases Ivan's single "The Harder They Come," elevating the fugitive to the status of folk hero. The Harder They Come utilizes a take-no-prisoners approach to its material and presents an unadorned view of the seamier side of Jamaica life. The film resulted in an incredible upsurge in the popularity of reggae music in America; among the highlights in its hit-after-hit score are "You Can Really Get It If You Want It," "Sitting in Limbo," "Johnny Too Bad," and the title song. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Reggae music serves as both soundtrack and plot element in THE HARDER THEY COME, a groundbreaking classic starring music legend Jimmy Cliff. Such hits as "You Can Get It If You Really Want, " "Many Rivers to Cross, " and "Sitting in Limbo, " punctuate the film's action, introducing reggae and its Jamaican roots to a worldwide audience. Here, Cliff plays Ivan Martin, a poor country boy who goes to the city to make money, becoming a street rebel and a pop idol overnight. In Kingston, Ivan finds nothing but corruption. The record company offers him a mere $20 to release his single, "The Harder They Come. " Ivan takes to the streets, where he is ensnared by crime. After brutally knifing a man, he serves a prison sentence. Once free, he supports himself by selling marijuana, protecting himself from legal persecution by giving the cops a cut. But that doesn't keep him from getting mixed up in a police raid. Ivan quickly develops a reputation as a Kingston criminal, and when his single "The Harder They Come" is finally released, it fuels his bad-boy notoriety, culminating in a tragic conclusion. Perry Henzel's 1973 film has become a cult classic and was an important factor in bringing reggae music to the fore. The movie served as a device for promoting Cliff's album and bringing him visibility as a primary Jamaican artist, on a par with Bob Marley.
International Films Management / Syndctd Entertainment