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Three the Hard Way (1974)

Blaxploitation film about three martial-arts specialists who prevent white supremacists from tainting the U.S. water supply with a toxin that's only harmful to black people.

Director:

Gordon Parks Jr.

Writers:

Eric Bercovici, Jerrold L. Ludwig (as Jerry Ludwig)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Brown ... Jimmy Lait
Fred Williamson ... Jagger Daniels
Jim Kelly ... Mister Keyes
Sheila Frazier ... Wendy Kane
Jay Robinson ... Monroe Feather
Charles McGregor Charles McGregor ... Charley
Howard Platt ... Keep
Richard Angarola ... Dr. Fortrero
David Chow David Chow ... Link
Marian Collier ... Eva
Junero Jennings Junero Jennings ... House
Alex Rocco ... Lt. Di Nisco
Corbin Bernsen ... Boy
Renie Radich Renie Radich ... Girl
Janice Carroll Janice Carroll ... Nurse
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Storyline

The story involves a white supremist plot to taint the United States water supply with a toxin that is harmless to whites but lethal to blacks. The only obstacles that stand in the way of this dastardly plan are Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly, who shoot, kick and karate chop their way to final victory. Written by <gilesw@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Action explodes all over the place when the big three join forces to save their race! See more »

Genres:

Action | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) was heavily inspired by this film, and features Jim Brown, along with 1970s icons Bernie Casey, Clarence Williams III, and Isaac Hayes. John Vernon portrays the main villain and Steve James plays a martial arts expert. It also features a gag where Jim Brown never reloads his gun. See more »

Goofs

When Jimmy is talking to Wendy from the phone booth he is clearly inside the booth while the gravel truck is charging the booth (0:54:04).Yet,seconds after the gravel truck hits the booth Jimmy isn't inside the booth and he is hanging from the back of the truck instead(0:54:09). See more »

Quotes

Dr. Fortrero: This little mixture of mine is as lethal as cyanide and as selective as a lady buying perfume.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Additional scenes were added to the TV version to pad out the running time and for content. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Soul Men (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Wendy
Music by Richard Tufo
Lyrics by Lowrell Simon
Performed by The Impressions (as Impressions)
Courtesy of Buddah and Curtom Records
See more »

User Reviews

Tighten Up the Edit or Fatten Up the Plot
3 January 2009 | by asgbeatSee all my reviews

"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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 June 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les d√©molisseurs See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (television)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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