Hard Times - Dual-Blu-ray/DVD

Sunday, 23 April 2017 23:00 Written by 

Hard Times - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDSet in early 1930s New Orleans, “Hard Times” stars Charles Bronson (“The Great Escape”, “The Dirty Dozen”) as Chaney, a mysterious, uncomplicated drifter who turns to illegal bare-knuckle boxing to earn some cash. The loner falls in with an unscrupulous manager called Speed (James Coburn – “Our Man Flint”, “Cross of Iron”) who, thanks to his serious vice issues, always finds himself in debt to some very unpleasant loan sharks.

Mr Speed wants to use Chaney to take on a rival’s unbeaten fighter but first he must scrape together enough money to qualify, by setting his sights a little lower. Tagging along is drunkard medic Poe (Strother Martin – “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Cool Hand Luke”). The movie marked the directorial debut of Walter Hill (also co-writer), renowned for “The Warriors”, “48 Hrs” and “Southern Comfort” amongst other hits.

Rather like Bronson’s character, this is a simple film with some great fight scenes, colourful characters and not many twists and turns. Fans of Clint Eastwood’s “Any Which Way But Loose” and “Any Which Way You Can” will know roughly what to expect, only with the comedy dial turned down a fair way. Having said that, and despite the occasionally grave situations that Chaney, Speed and Poe get into, the movie is quite light on its feet - rather like Chaney is in the ring.

Bronson pretty much plays his standard squinting, unshakeable tough guy; Chaney, owing to his lack of depth, is not a particularly likeable character. The actor equips himself very well in the action sequences, however. Coburn is great, using his ample charm to get us on Speed’s side despite his multitude of shortcomings.

There are some entertaining supporting characters including Robert Tessier (“The Deep”, “Starcrash”) as an eternally smirking, bald-headed fighter, Michael McGuire (“Bird”) as Speed’s smarmy, gloating nemesis, and Bruce Glover (“Diamonds Are Forever”, “Chinatown”) as a menacing money lender who does not take kindly to late payers.

I enjoyed this unfussy, economical film. It does a reasonable job of depicting the seedy underbelly of New Orleans in the 1930s, has some good fight scenes and looks sharp in this newly-restored edition. If you like films about underground boxing you will surely find it entertaining.

Special features include:

  • New 4K digital restoration
  • Uncompressed PCM and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired
  • A new interview with co-writer/director Walter Hill
  • A new interview with producer Lawrence Gordon
  • A new interview with composer Barry DeVorzon
  • Excerpts from a 1984 interview with Walter Hill at the National Film Theatre, London
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A 20-page booklet featuring Pauline Kael’s original 1975 New Yorker review of the film, and archival imagery

“Hard Times” (1975) is out now on dual-format Blu-ray and DVD (two discs), courtesy of Eureka. The main feature has a running time of 93 minutes approx, carries an ‘15’ certificate and retails for £17.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com by CLICKING HERE.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 27 April 2017 13:25

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