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Three the Hard Way
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Reviews & Ratings for
Three the Hard Way More at IMDbPro »

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Tighten Up the Edit or Fatten Up the Plot

Author: asgbeat from United States
3 January 2009

"Three the Hard Way" earned its reputation on the presence of (and chemistry between) its three roundly diverse Black action stars - Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly. They were perfectly cast for a film with an engaging premise about "The Man" poisoning the water supply in three major urban/inner cities. It featured some sweet eye-candy along the way (including the always divine Sheila Frazier as imperiled "Wendy" - fresh off of "Superfly" - a more devilish interracial trio of masochistic beauties, and Fred in the bed with yet another babe), an underrated soundtrack by a quartet edition of The Impressions (post-Curtis Mayfield but featured on-screen in a recording session as record producer Brown's rising stars) and all the tricked-out blaxploitation trimmings.

The problem is that because the script was anemic of healthy plot twists, padding is embarrassingly in full effect...including an overly long speedboat sequence that plays like a vanity piece for Williamson to pose and look pretty (with a second classy lady by his side less than 5 minutes after leaving the first one - "playa-playa," we get the point), and an equally long stretch of the aforementioned leather-clad "hench-bitches" rumbling into town on their choppers. That's too much celluloid cellulite wasted on characters styling and profiling, and not enough story intricacies to keep the tension tightly mounted.

When things do heat up, it's great to see the three stars interact. Ironically, MVP honors go not to former football giants Brown or Williamson but to Jim Kelly, whoopin' on a crooked cracker cop that makes the mistake of planting some illicit substances in his gold-plated ride. "Wanna set me up," Kelly asks with most righteous indignation, then proceeds to kick the pig's ass all over both sides of a Windy City side street! Director Gordon Parks, Jr. should have also let the soul brothers have more hang time without making them jump straight into their mission to save all brotherhood - maybe even a flashback to when they were youngbloods, foreshadowing their personalities as grown men. While the stars' talents weren't totally wasted, "Three the Hard Way" should have been much more epic.

Someday an ambitious director and a cast of wanna-be's (likely a rapper or two) will try to remake this flick. Their biggest challenge - beyond fleshing out the story - will be finding three stars as compelling as Brown, Williamson and Kelly. Let's raise a snifter of Harvey's Bristol Creme that somebody at least has the fortitude to release the original on DVD, unedited, with commentary and maybe a featurette including the participation of all three baad-asss action heroes.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of the best 'blaxplotation' movies of the'70s

10/10
Author: wbhickok (wbhickok@hotmail.com) from San Diego Ca. USA
6 March 2001

Three the hard way is one of, if not the best blaxplotation movies to come out of the '70s. Directed by Gordon Parks Jr. (Superfly), it is about three black friends aimed at stopping a white supremisist plot of commiting genocide on the black race by poisoning the water supply. The trio consists of Fred Williamson, Jim 'The Dragon' Kelly and Jim Brown on a non-stop thrill ride, a truly fun movie.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The best action film I've seen.

10/10
Author: Edsel Hegmon (tennischamp20012001@yahoo.com) from columbus, ohio
1 May 2001

When I was a kid I'd read Right On magazine, and when they said that they were going to make a picture with Jim Brown, Fred(The Hammer) Williamson, Jim(Enter the Dragon)Kelly I couldn't belive it, and then when I went to see another movie at the theater, and seen the previews of "Three the Hard Way" I knew this was a winner, and I was right; this is the best action movie of all time. The action scenes was non-stop, and the plot was not all that, but the way the big three got together was good, and Sheila Frazier is still beautiful as ever. The best part of the movie was the climaxing scenes when they finally take down the bad guys. If you get a chance to rent "Three the Hard Way" go to Blockbuster video store. I think they're the only ones that rents the movie. You wont be sorry!

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

166? people killed in one movie!

6/10
Author: DrSatan from The Land of Mortis
16 August 1999

Rented this movie because of the three blaxploitation stars in one flick. As a fan of the genre, I can say this movie was one of the best low-ends of the genre...i.e. its no Superfly or Shaft, but it doesn't try to be....just pure, clean, racist-killing fun. We tried to keep track of how many people were killed in this movie...but at one point we just decided to count the neo-nazis that came on the screen, since we know they would get killed anyways. Our total...166 (this is a rough count). Love the Jim Kelly vs. the cops and Jim Brown's inexhaustible ammunition scenes...spoofed very well in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka". Favorite scene hands down...color coded, motorcycle driving, multi-racial dominatrixes. Very fun flick.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

three major cities, three super heroes

Author: MANNO MEDRANO from Laguna, Ca
21 May 1999

Three the Hard Way stars football greats Jim Brown and fred Williamson, and former karate middleweight champion Jim Kelly. Together, they are reunited when one of their buddies is snuffed out trying to expose a neo-nazi operations camp. Each hero comes from a different city and each has a unique combat style. When a neo-nazi leader(Jay"Dr. Shrinker" Robinson) plots to contaminate the waters of three big cities to the extent that only black-americans will be affected, the trio springs into action using street fighting, exploding gun fights,and high kickin' martial arts to thwart the evil villain.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A colorful blaxploitation movie, albeit not as much fun as it could have been

4/10
Author: Henry Spencer from Germany
24 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THREE THE HARD WAY is a colorful blaxploitation movie, albeit not as much fun as it could have been. The story tells about a paramilitary organization of neo-fascists, who have developed an insidious, toxic drug that proves lethal only to Afro-Americans (!). The racial fanatics threaten to pollute the drinking water of all major American cities with this drug, thus bringing a biological victory of the superior white race over the Negros once and for all. The intellectual instigator of this plan explains the "noble goal" of his organization at one point in the film as follows: "You are here in a scientific institution. We are looking for human solutions to social chaos. A cleansing process is our only concern. The cleansing of the races on this continent is our goal, especially within our great nation, you see?" But the self-proclaimed white supremacists have not reckon with the resistance of the "three icy professionals (German title), Jim Brown and Fred Williamson, two superstars of American Football and Karate Champ Jim Kelly"(German VHS). They shoot and fight tirelessly through the "brown swamp" and are the happy winners at the end; balm for the collective ego of the black community. THREE THE HARD WAY was staged by Gordon Parks Jr. after the pattern of action films, tailored especially for a black audience, which his father Gordon Parks has successfully established in the early '70s with SHAFT. The opening of the movie shows Jim Brown driving through L.A. with a white Rolls Royce, accompanied by an extremely cheesy theme song, intoned by the "Impressions", who get the opportunity to present more second-class soul and funk music in the course of the film, sometimes lasting for seemingly endless minutes. Unfortunately, the film is a bit to epic in scale with it's 93 minutes running time, so the occasionally quite good action and martial arts sequences are not that effective, because too much space has been granted for the dialogs and romantic scenes. Thus, even the numerous pyrotechnical effects and shootings (including the three leading actors eliminating almost single-handedly an entire hundred of heavily armed paramilitaries) can not prevent the emergence of slight boredom. At least, the film is a bit more fun than the majority of the genre, especially because of some pretty slanted ingredients like the neo-fascists who are dressed up with red uniform caps and brown shirts, and the symbol of their organization is clearly reminiscent of the Nazi-SS runes. Highlight of the film, however, is the appearance of the three "lady torturers" by the name of Comtess, Princess and Empress. All clad in leather and each wrapped in a red, white and blue jacket respectively, they drive by on motorcycles, which are painted in the same color as their outfit! And this look is also taken up by the color of their bras! They seem to come from the visions of a drug-damaged masochist. What kind of torture the three girls are using remains, however, to the imagination of the viewer. Anyhow, the condition of those who have been tortured gives way to the most adventurous perspectives. All in all, the film can not hide the fact that it is a veritable B-picture, but due to the aforementioned unusual elements it offers at least a minimum of entertainment. Condensed to 80 minutes, the film could have been really good. The producer of the film, Harry Bernsen, is the father of actor Corbin Bernsen, who gives his debut here.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the best action-packed blaxploitation flicks of the 1970's

Author: vaughn_cornell-1 from United States
25 October 2004

"Three The Hard Way" starring Jim Brown, Jim Kelly from "Enter The Dragon", and Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, is an excellent action flick about three black action heroes who go up against a racist (fascist)organization, who are out to kill the black population. Gordon Parks Jr., who is the son of "Shaft" director Gordon Parks Sr., does an excellent job in directing the memorable action sequences throughout the film, and should be remembered as one of the few African-American directors who has made history in directing action films. In addition, Jim Kelly, Jim "Slaughter" Brown, and Fred Williamson do an extraordinary job displaying their action hero skills, and should always be remembered as the action heroes who came before Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, when I had seen this movie on video, the lighting in some of the action scenes were very hard to see making it very difficult to enjoy throughout the film. Nevertheless, this movie will always be, in my opinion, one of the best blaxploitation films alongside "Shaft", "Superfly", and "Cleopatra Jones".

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good fun for fans of the genre.

7/10
Author: Scott LeBrun (Hey_Sweden) from Canada
1 August 2016

Blaxploitation icons Jim Brown, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, and Jim Kelly team up for this ass kicking feature. They play old buds who discover an insidious plot being bankrolled by white supremacist Monroe Feather (Jay Robinson). The scientist (Richard Angarola) being employed by Feather has devised a chemical that will infiltrate the water supply of three major cities and affect only blacks. Fortunately, The Hammer and the two Jims are formidable opponents and take the fight to any and all henchmen standing in their way.

As directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., "Three the Hard Way" isn't perfect. Admittedly, there's some obvious padding on this thing, and the story might not be meaty enough or altogether satisfying for some viewers. But there are still undeniable pleasures to be had. The action scenes are first rate and sometimes are seen from both great height and distance; the photography is aces as well. The movie does earn its R rating, but at the same time isn't THAT graphic with its violence, so more squeamish viewers may find it agreeable. The eye candy is delectable, with three "specialist" type female characters brought in to interrogate one of many bad guys. As followers of this genre come to expect, the music is most groovy. The pace may not always be consistent, but things do eventually build to a smashing finale where our heroic trio of bad asses stage grand scale destruction. There's a whole lot of shooting and explosions going on.

Obviously, the main reason to watch is to see three charismatic men bring their style to the proceedings. They're well supported by an effectively odious Robinson, a feisty Sheila Frazier as Browns' love interest, and the ever likable Charles McGregor. Alex Rocco is utterly wasted in a non crucial role as complaining detective Lieutenant Di Nisco. Corbin Bernsen (whose father Harry produced the movie) makes his first credited appearance in a motion picture, as the young man helping "House" (Junero Jennings) make an escape. Pamela Serpe, Marie O'Henry, and Irene Tsu are amusing as the sexy torturers. Jeannie Bell of "T.N.T. Jackson" has a small role.

Definitely a must if you're a blaxploitation completist.

Seven out of 10.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Three for the price of one

7/10
Author: Red-Barracuda from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
3 March 2012

A group of neo-Nazis plot to poison the water supply of three major American cities with a chemical that will wipe out the black population. Enter Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly. This trio of badasses get on the case and immediately start kicking Nazi butt.

Three the Hard Way is an action-packed blaxploitation flick that's main selling point seems to be the inclusion of three big stars of the genre in one movie. The trio of leads are all good value too, especially Jim Kelly and his kung fu fighting. The plot-line itself is fairly basic but it does allow for a set-up where the three inner-city black heroes can take on The Man and outwit him at every stage. There is a huge body-count as Nazi after Nazi is gunned down, blown up or kicked into oblivion. Once the three friends hook up it's basically a non-stop barrage of action. We also have a trio of inter-racial colour co-ordinated topless motorcycle dominatrixes who interrogate one Nazi with methods we can only imagine.

This is a fun film full of action and three charismatic leads. For blaxploitation fans I would think this is a must.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Lait, Jagger & Mister!

8/10
Author: Mark-129 from United States
20 July 2003

A very good blaxpoitation flick from the mid 70s. Much more ambitious than the usual genre fare, the movie is slickly made, starring three of the most famous stars of the time, Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and Fred Williamson. As I recall, the casting caused quite a stir at the time of release. My only complaint is the unsatisfying, rushed final act. Gordon Parks, the director failed in giving the villains a memorable send off. Well worth seeing. The soundtrack by the Impressions is great as well.

By the way, having seen the movie in a theater, the lighting problems noted in other reviews is due to the poor print used, a second generation, edited TV version. The original version included a nude scene by the three motorcycle riding women "interogators" and more closeup kung fu violence, by Jim Kelly. Hopefully, a DVD release someday will restore the original R rated cut.

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