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Reviews & Ratings for
Sudden Impact More at IMDbPro »

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38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Dirty Harry is Back, Big time

9/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
6 July 2002

The vigilante has long held a fascination for audiences, inasmuch as it evokes a sense of swift, sure justice; good triumphs over evil and the bad guy gets his deserts. It is, in fact, one of the things that has made the character of Dirty Harry Callahan (as played by Clint Eastwood) so popular. He carries a badge and works within the law, but at heart, Harry is a vigilante, meting out justice `his' way, which often puts him in conflict with his own superiors, as well as the criminals he's pursuing. But it's what draws the audience; anyone who's ever been bogged down in bureaucratic nonsense of one kind or another, delights in seeing someone cut through the red tape and get on with it-- even if it's only on the screen. And that satisfaction derived from seeing justice done-- and quickly-- is one of the elements that makes `Sudden Impact,' directed by and starring Eastwood, so successful. In this one, the fourth of the series, while working a homicide, Harry encounters a bona fide vigilante at work-- an individual whose brand of justice parallels his own, with one exception: Whoever it is, he's definitely not carrying a badge.

In his own inimitable way, Inspector Callahan has once again ended up on the bad side of the department and is ordered to take some vacation time. So he does; as only `Dirty Harry' can. In a small town north of San Francisco, Harry finds himself smack dab in the middle of a homicide case, which he quickly links to a recent murder in San Francisco because of the unique M.O. employed by the perpetrator. Unaccountably, Harry encounters resistance from the local Police Chief, Jannings (Pat Hingle), who advises him to take his big city tactics and methods elsewhere. Not one to be deterred, however, Harry continues his investigation, which ultimately involves a beautiful and talented young artist, Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke). Gradually, Harry discovers a link between the victims; the burning question, though, is where does Jennifer Spencer fit into the picture?

Eastwood is in top form here, both in front of and behind the camera, and it is arguably the second best of the five-film series, right behind the original `Dirty Harry.' It had been seven years since the last `Harry' offering (`The Enforcer,' 1976), but Eastwood steps right back into the character with facility and renewed vigor. And this one definitely benefits from having him in the director's chair, as he is able to recapture the essence of, not only his own character, but that `spirit' that made these films so successful, and he does it by knowing the territory and establishing a continuity that all but erases that seven year gap between #s 3 and 4. As with all the films he directs, Eastwood sets a deliberate pace that works perfectly for this material and creates just enough tension to keep it interesting and involving from beginning to end.

The screenplay, by Joseph Stinson, is well written and formulated to that distinctive `Dirty Harry' style; the dialogue is snappy and the story itself (conceived by Charles B. Pierce and Earl E. Smith) is the most engaging since the original `Dirty Harry,' as it successfully endeavors to play upon the very personal aspects of the drama, rather than entirely upon the action. The characters are well drawn and convincing, and, of course, this is the film that gave us one of Harry's best catch-phrases: `Go, ahead-- make my day...'

As Harry, Clint Eastwood perfectly embodies all of the elements that make this character so popular: He lives by a personal moral code, a true individual made of the kind of stuff we envision as that of the pioneers who settled this country and made America what it is today. Harry personifies that sense of freedom and justice we all strive for and hold so dear, possibly more so today than ever before. No matter who we are or where we come from, there's undeniably a part of us that wants to be Harry, or at least have him around. `Dirty Harry' is an icon of the cinema, and it's impossible to envision anyone but Eastwood portraying him; for better or worse, Eastwood `is' Dirty Harry, without question, just as Sean Connery is James Bond and Basil Rathbone, Sherlock Holmes.

Sondra Locke is entirely effective here in the role of Jennifer Spencer, a young woman wronged and out for vengeance, or as she sees it, `justice.' She manages to bring a hard-edged determination laced with vulnerability to her character, with a convincing, introspective approach that is far beyond what is typical of the `action' genre. Even amid the violence, Locke keeps her focus on Jennifer and the traumatic events that have brought her to this stage of her life. Her portrayal makes a perfect complement to Eastwood's Harry, and becomes, in philosophy and deed, something of his counterpart.

In supporting roles, two performances stand out: Paul Drake, as Mick, creates the best `psycho' since Andy Robinson's dynamic portrayal of the serial killer in the original `Dirty Harry.' With actually very limited screen time, Drake establishes a genuinely disconcerting presence that is believable and convincing, which adds much to the purely visceral response of the audience. This is the guy you can't wait to see Harry take care of in the end. Also effective is Audrie J. Neenan, who makes her character, Ray Parkins, the epitome of the proverbial `low life,' who can be found in any bar in any city. It's a performance that evokes a gut-level response, and it adds greatly to the credibility of the film, in that it helps provide that necessary sense of realism.

The supporting cast includes Albert Popwell (Horace), Mark Kevloun (Bennett) and Nancy Parsons (Mrs. Kruger). With a perfect blend of drama and action, `Sudden Impact' dispenses justice that is a fulfilling respite from reality; the perfect justice of a not-so-perfect world, that makes for a satisfying cinematic experience. 9/10.

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26 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Harry is at it again

9/10
Author: chvylvr80 from Northridge, California
4 September 2003

Sudden Impact is the 4th of the Dirty Harry films and one of the best traits of these films is that they don't really degrade in quality from one film to the next. Thus, Sudden Impact provides another thrill ride through the life of Dirty Harry Callahan. This time Harry attempts to solve a series of murders while on vacation. Harry's always on the job it seems. Clint Eastwood plays Harry as he plays all his men of action, slow, deliberate, and without fear. As the first of the Dirty Harry films to be made in the 80's, Sudden Impact lacks a bit of the 70's feel that characterizes the first three films. This doesn't mean that it's quality is any less. Bottom Line: Brimming with intensity and action, Sudden Impact is another worthy addition to the Dirty Harry series.

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18 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Fourth Dirty Harry entry changes the formula to a darker, character-driven style.... interesting but not wholly successful.

Author: Jonathon Dabell (barnaby.rudge@hotmail.co.uk) from Todmorden, England
11 December 2003

Sudden Impact is the most unusual of the five Dirty Harry movies, but that doesn't make it the best. However, after the rather flat and comic-book heroics of the third film, The Enforcer, it's good to see some changes to the formula. Sudden Impact is quite a dark, moody piece of cinema with big emphasis on character. Yes, there's action, but the action in this one is only one piece of the jigsaw whereas in some of the other Dirty Harry outings the action was everything.

Harry Callahan (Eastwood) is in hot water with his superiors for carrying out an illegal search on a suspicious car. The young thugs he arrested are released because of the lack of evidence, and they set out to take revenge on Harry. However, Harry is a tough nut to crack - and pretty soon he is striking back in his own destructive style. Harry's boss decides to get Harry out of town for a while to avoid further bloodshed, so he assigns him to a quiet murder investigation in an isolated coastal town. Harry pieces together the mystery and discovers that the killer is a female artist (Locke) who is bumping off a bunch of drop-outs who gang-raped her and her sister years previously. Should he arrest her for the killings, or should he turn a blind eye and let her do away with these repellent scum-bags?

The film is probably the second best in the series (the original is always going to be considered the best). Peculiarly, it is the only Dirty Harry movie upon which Eastwood also doubled up as director. It isn't a whole success, with some needless scenes (what's the point of the sequence detailing the hold-up of a coffee shop?) and a couple of overly hammy performances by the main villains (especially the trailer trash redhead). On the whole, though, this is a very interesting and unusual addition to the series which gets by on the strength of being totally different to all the other four episodes.

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26 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Clint doing what he does best..

6/10
Author: anxietyresister from United Kingdom
3 June 2005

A rape victim is going around, bumping off her attackers one by one, having been denied justice originally. A rather unconventional detective, Callahan is put on the case.. but whose side will he take?

This is one of the most brutal films I've seen in quite some time. Virtually every scene seems to be a set-up for some punks to make the mistake of annoying our hero, who then proceeds to beat the living daylights out of them, or simply blows their heads off. I am 100% convinced that if any serving officer did what the Eastwood character gets away with in this film, he would not only be stripped of his badge, but also be looking at a considerable stretch in prison. Another striking aspect of the picture is the violence used against the fairer sex. The female cast members get punched in the face, kicked when on they're on the ground.. And that doesn't even include the constant flashbacks we get of Sondra Locke's sexual assault ordeal (We get one every time she carries out one of her revenge attacks on her aggressors). The misogyny displayed on screen is incredible and is unlikely to endear itself to anyone concerned about domestic violence.

So why am I recommending it? Well for a start, the film is well directed, with some very exciting gunfights and car chases which will keep you on the edge of your seat. But the main reason for watching is Clint himself, the evergreen icon giving us another classy performance as a veteran cop who might not share the ethics of the modern police force, but tends to do the job 10x better than his colleagues who do it all 'by the book'. If only we had someone like that here in Britain, perhaps this country wouldn't be the crime hotspot it is these days.. 6/10

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Sudden Nausea

2/10
Author: garthbarnes-62014 from United States
29 May 2015

Spoilers Ahead:

Yes, it is better than THE DEAD POOL, but that is not saying much. Ugly, that is the first word that comes to mind. What an ugly, gory, gross out, piece of crap. Let's grant the shaky morality of returning murder for rape. I will not go there. It is certainly debatable. The film glories in head and genital bullet shots. Yes, I love seeing bullets into heads; it makes my day. First, when you shoot someone in the head it is not that nice; see brains and blood fly all over in a lovely gore explosion. Think of an exploding watermelon. The film desensitizes the costs of violence; it is all neat and clean. Neelan's performance is without equal in the most gross, disgusting character even depicted on screen. Look, I am sullied after wading though the sewage that is modern film; this, even though made in 1983, is flat out disgusting.

It is full of cringe worthy moments, yes the make my day scene is one of them. First, if his reflexes were any slower they could have painted a mural waiting for the old geezer to pull his piece. In real life he would have been riddled with bullet holes before grandpa even got the piece out. How about the romance between him and the 25 years younger Locke, yuuuuuch! Please, at least it was off camera. He arrives in a small town and there is a robbery right in front of him what a coincidence. The whole shooting up the mafia enforcers, yes now there was a realistic scene. Look how far down from DIRTY HARRY we have come? Even THE ENFORCER was a masterpiece compared to this. Sondra Locke was one of the most beautiful actresses of the 1980's but she could never act. Psycho boy gets old very fast.

When Sondra said her lines, in my theater in 1983, people were laughing. Again, watching her tool about shooting men and one women in the genitals and the head just is not my idea of a good time. Instead of the great Harry Guardino, we get some faceless, bad acting stand in. This really was close to the nadir for the Dirty Harry franchise. Sondra took out the monkey movies with her abysmal singing which makes her acting seem like Bette Davis. She is on screen here way to long and her acting wrecks the movie. The supporting cast is just awful. Pat Hingle is the only actor among them. The film is unrelentingly non stop violence, gross out dialogue and really ugly imagery. If you enjoy some bad acting tart driving around shooting men in the genitals and head, this is the film for you. Again, the morality is quite dubious. We revoked the death penalty for rape about 50 years ago. BRING A BARF BAG AND A PAIR OF SUNGLASSES.

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16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Harry Meets The Worst Woman Since Ann Savage

8/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
5 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The fourth in the "Dirty Harry" series, this film features one of the most despicable, ugliest, unlikable, profane, disgusting females I have ever seen on film: "Ray Perkins," played by Audrie Neenan. She is the modern nasty low-life version of the 1945 "Detour" character, "Ann Savage."

Her foul mouth and gutter attitude turned me off so much I never watched this film again until I acquired a profanity filter which shut her up....and least some of her! Then I could enjoy the rest of the movie.

Everywhere "Harry Callahan" (Clint Eastwood) goes, violence immediately follows.....within minutes! It happens so often it's almost laughable but it makes for a fast-moving, entertaining film with a satisfying ending as all the scumbag villains are eliminated one-by-one.

This is a very sophomoric film that appeals to our base instincts.....and connects, sad to say. Most of us like to see these dirtballs get it in the end, and who does it better than Dirty Harry?

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great guns

Author: aajones from Stockton on Tees, England
24 August 2003

The Dirty Harry series are great films. Forget reality and political correctness, just enjoy the films. Like the rest of the series the formula is perfect in Sudden Impact, a great actor delivering action, humour, thrills and excitement.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

A strange and surreal look at Dirty Harry

7/10
Author: Agent10 from Tucson, AZ
29 July 2002

With Harry Callahan getting up in years, the inevitable `old man with a chip on his shoulder' story had to come into play eventually. Callahan, looking fragile sometimes and out of place, his demeanor still was unwavering. Thankfully, this film took some time off to develop a different type of story, one that might reinvent the Dirty Harry and the whole genre. While the film fell short in doing so, it was still an excellent addition to the series, even if it was getting a little out of place during a time of silly fashion trends and New Wave music.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Dramatic Harry

7/10
Author: BroadswordCallinDannyBoy from Boston, MA
7 April 2007

Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan once again angers his superiors with his maverick approach to police work. Refusing to take a vacation he is given a simple case which takes him outside of San Francisco. However, he soon discovers a link between a recent murder in the city and a murder outside of the city, which leads him to the trail of a revenge killer.

As an entry in the Dirty Harry franchise the film starts with some very promising moments, including the legendary "Go ahead, make my day" line that Eastwood delivers wonderfully through clenched teeth before single handedly foiling a robbery. Very badass and it just what fans can expect from him. However, the film soon shifts gears and focuses on the mysterious revenge killer. The problem is that this killer isn't all that mysterious as she is characterized as much as Harry is. This really detracts from the presence of the main character who ruled all of his previous film appearances with, pardon the pun, Magnum Force.

On the bright side this new storyline does draw several parallels to Harry's own unorthodox methods and gives his character dramatic depth that was not there before, but fans that were looking for another badass Harry outing will more than likely be somewhat disappointed. However, a tense climax ends the film on an exciting note so if you don't mind something a little different, it is a good movie for fans. --- 7/10

Rated R for violence and a rape scene

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Poor - I blame her

4/10
Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
25 October 2007

As a Dirty Harry fan since the first one hit the cinemas in 1971, I somehow managed to miss this one until it was on TV last night. I thought the first one was great, the second was an interesting reversal of viewpoint, and the 3rd and 5th were adequate action thrillers.

So what of the 4th? I never shared Eastwood's fascination with Sondra Locke, and that's probably the reason why I never caught this movie until last night. So what did I find?

I found a rape/revenge movie which, when all was said and done, didn't need Harry Callahan in it at all.

I found Harry's activities pretty nearly exclusively limited to a) the usual falling out with authority (mostly plot-relevant) and b) the usual quasi-vigilante schtick - normally limited to a single encounter early on (viz, the diner in this movie) to establish character, but here repeated seemingly without end and with hardly any plot relevance.

I found a film full of unsympathetic characters.

I found an irritating unconvincing cackling psycho and an irritating unconvincing foul-mouthed dyke.

I found an irrelevant farting dog.

I found the usual atmospheric San Franciso locations replaced with a new but decidedly unatmospheric location, presumably 10 minutes down the road from Carmel so that Eastwood could nip home for lunch and Council meetings.

I found a great deal of unpleasantly misogynistic violence. And

I found Sondra Locke, who I didn't like any more in this film than I did in Josey Wales, Any Which Way 1 and 2, The Gauntlet, zzzzz.....

I'm glad Harry came back once more after this. The Dead Pool wasn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it was noticeably better than this mess.

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