Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Three the Hard Way (Gordon Parks Jr., 1974)

When Jimmy Lait (Jim Brown) returns to his home and finds an old friend has been held in a off-the-books prison he decides to take action. When the bad guys kidnap his woman, there is going to be hell to pay. Times three.

Lait contacts his friends, some of the baddest cats around. Jagger Daniels (Fred Williamson) and Mister Keyes (Jim Kelly). The three try getting Lait's girl back, but soon discover there is much more to the story. Namely, genocide. It seems a group of neo-Nazis has created a drug they plan to disperse through the water systems of Los Angeles, Detroit, and Washington DC. It apparently does not effect white people, based on some sketchy science based on sickle cell anemia.

This is a pretty awesome film, both by action and Blaxploitation standards. Jim Brown is the weakest actor in it, but is pretty awesome in his action scenes. Fred Williamson is, well Fred Williamson (which is pretty damn good), and Jim Kelly adds a little traditional Kung-Fu personality to his role, particularly by shunning firearms.

One part that is interesting, on a few levels, is the brief inclusion of Countess (Pamela Serpe), Empress (Irene Tsu), and Princess (Marie O'Henry). They are special interrogators that Jagger knows, and are brought in to get info out of a henchman. They are highly cruel, though their methods are not show. Once they have softened the henchman up, Jagger and Keyes try talking to him and the man is a mess. Keyes does not like what is going on, nor the three women. It is nice to see some difference of opinion where methods are concerned in an action film.
Countess, Empress, and Princess
The story has some flaws, particularly the way the Nazis start celebrating before their troops have notified them of success. Also, I am not sure we ever find out about Lait's friend from the prison, or even what happened to it. I can appreciate when a film leaves some doors open, but they just kind of forgot about the whole thing. Plus the Nazi leader appears to escape, but it is impossible to know for sure.
Jagger Daniels, Mister Keyes, and Jimmy Lait
In the end, it is an awesome film. It is not as heavy on standard Blaxploitation elements as many films of the genre. Sure, their are many, notably the racist bad guys and cops setting Mister Keyes up on a phony possession charge, but otherwise it is a pretty standard shoot-em-up action film. Well worth watching, despite its flaws.


kal said...

I am searching for this download based on your strong recommendation. I do loves me some blacksploitation films and the three stars are blacksploitation royalty. Very cool.

T. Roger Thomas said...

We're going to hit America right where it hurts! The largest city on the West Coast, the nation's capital and, of course, Detroit!

Really? Detroit? Really?

That is one hell of a cast though

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Kal - it is a bit hard to find, though I have not looked for a DL. I got it as a part of four movies on two DVDs; three of which were Jim Kelly films [link]. I wonder if it is public domain?

@TRT - I guess if you are going after the American black population, Detroit in '74 makes sense, though by that logic they could go after St. Louis, Memphis, or most any Southern city. I guess they left out NYC and Chi-town as they were the places Jagger (Chi) and Keyes (NYC) were from. Lait was from LA, so he got to fight on his home turf. He was the de facto leader. Definitely an awesome cast.

evildm said...

"You choose a CHRISTIAN over a Caesar?!?"
I loves me some Jay Robinson.

I had the sound Track to that movie as a kid. It's the closest I could get- no video stores when I was 10.

I dug the theme song.
"They aint gonna quit until they catch the man called Feather"

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