Fueled by a ferocious soundtrack, director Paul Rachman's American Hardcore gives fans an all-access pass to the rise and fall of the U.S. punk scene, an explosive musical and cultural phenomenon that shaped everything fr... more »om the grunge movement to the emo and pop/punk music currently riding the charts. Set against the conservative early '80s political landscape, American Hardcore chronicles the homegrown hardcore scene that was a swift kick in the head to corporate rock and mainstream complacency, as disaffected teens adopted the same collective credo - harder, faster, louder. From downtown warehouses to suburban bedrooms, the scene spread from city to city like wildfire, uniting bored, angry outcasts into an authentic underground revolution. A raw blast of politics, passion, and rage, American Hardcore features never-before-seen live footage from Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, MDC, SSD, DOA, DRI, The Adolescents, 7 Seconds and many more, plus exclusive interviews with punk icons like Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Keith Morris and H.R. (Paul Hudson).« less
Interesting, enjoyable documentary that details the humble beginnings, the rapid rise and sudden fall of hardcore punk in the U.S. during the years 1980-86. Loaded with lotsa cool vintage (ultra-violent!) live clips and new and old interviews with members of Black Flag (Henry Rollins, as you might expect, has some great stories), Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Adolescents, Battalion of Saints, and too many more to mention. Even though I was only a casual hardcore fan back in the day I still dug this flick. The "Get Thrashed" doc should've looked more like this.
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John H. (johnniemidnite) from LYNNWOOD, WA Reviewed on 4/2/2011...
American Hardcore is a companion piece to the book American Hardcore. That said, the dvd is short on a lot of bands you really wanted to see. For me, THE MISFITS should have had a nice chunk of the action, but the only thing presented here is a few second clip of Bobby Steele who played on one e.p. and made a career of being an ex-Misfit. If you like old school hard core, you will probably enjoy the show even if your favorites aren't represented. If you don't like it, check it out anyway. Broaden your horizons and see what you missed. ***** out of *****
American Hardcore - The Special Features Make This Product
Mark | East Coast | 04/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
American Hardcore is not a definitive history of hardcore music or punk rock. It's a documentary about a connected group of hardcore music scenes in cities across the USA. The documentary isn't only about the music but more about the culture of hardcore and the world inside and outside of the scene.
While there are some shortcomings to American Hardcore, all of them fade away once you start making your way through the special features. I will list both positives and negatives as I see them. But overall I still feel this movie is an important historical work.
To me, I think the filmmakers chose select musicians based largely upon a subjective definition of "hardcore" as a smaller part of the punk scene. As such, it is true that some groups were excluded. Yet it should be noted that there are other movies on the much larger punk scene. Legal issues surrounding certain groups also played a part in some of them being excluded. I think the criticism about the missing or lightly covered bands, while valid, has been over-emphasized.
When you watch this movie from start to finish as a sociological documentary on the hard-core culture, you will come away with a very good feel for the many different and diverse sub-cultures within the scene. That in and of itself is a great accomplishment.
One of the things we learn is the role of gay and minority musicians within the scene. This helps to eliminate the misconceptions about who made this music and who it was against. Another thing is also clear from the groups profiled in this movie: musicianship ranged from really poor to exceptional, and at the very top of that hierarchy was Bad Brains. The larger question of who was the "best" group is left untouched, which has created some backlash from hardcore purists who were expecting their favorites to be highlighted.
The documentary itself could have been better edited. The film is made up of clips of different former hardcore scene members discussing aspects of the music and the times. There seem to be way too many cuts from one person to the next, and they often move too quickly. While they have their names repeatedly captioned, I found myself having to pause and rewind to catch a lot of the names.
The whole Reagan theme really seemed over-played to me. The political aspects of hardcore definitely come through as important. Yet it seems to be so much more than that. I believe that hardcore would have rebelled against whoever was in power.
One thing I have not seen mentioned was the very light treatment of hardcore music within neo-nazi and other extremist groups. It is mentioned, but a true historical context would have included the other side of the coin regarding how people of color and other groups were treated and perceived by many hardcore fans.
The Special Features
If I had to rate the documentary alone, it might have been a lower rating. Going through the special features turned out to be the treasure trove I had been looking for. These special features add 3 stars on their own, and if I could I would have given this 10 stars.
Of course there is a standard writer and director commentary feature that lets aspiring film students and other history junkies get some background on the movie.
There are also 6 included recordings of historic live performances, including: 1. MDC - "Corporate Deathburger" 2. Bad Brains - "Big Takeover" 3. SSD - "Boiling Point" 4. Void - "My Rules" 5. YDI - "Enemy For Life" 6. Jerry's Kids - "I Don't Belong"
Several other more recent performances were included from premier parties for American Hardcore, one from DOA and one from Circle Jerks.
And there is also a very nice feature about the photography of Ed Colver which is used in the movie. The fact that these pictures were taken with a low end camera and lenses is even more amazing and totally consistent with the scene and the way this music was made.
Even the included previews were awesome, many of them about movies I've already seen and several about other music related features that I'm definitely going to see now. Sony Pictures Classics has been doing really great work bringing specialty music movies to the market.
The real gems in these features are the deleted scenes. This footage alone could have been used to make another movie, and most of it was good enough that it could have been included in the movie. There is over 1 HOUR of this stuff! Truly amazing, and thank you to the filmmakers for including this here. All movie companies should take note and start doing this. These extra clips have tremendous historical value for anybody who needs to research this topic in the future.
Would it have been nice to have an entire history of all of punk rock including all of the better known bands? Yes, but that's not what this is. After watching this I was left with a much greater respect for Sony Pictures Classics for making this at all. It is very difficult to invest the time and money to acquire, produce, market and distribute a movie like this.
Those who were not hardcore fans perhaps may have more to learn from watching this. Not all hard-core fans will be pleased with the documentary, but all should appreciate this DVD version much more if they watch all the extras that are included.
If you love learning about music you have a lot to gain from watching this.
Interesting, but overlooks too many influential acts of the
N. Durham | Philadelphia, PA | 03/19/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hardcore music, true hardcore music that is, often gets confused with pointless screaming and thrashing with little to know message or method behind it. For those who are unfamiliar to the sub-genre that achieved it's maximum popularity during the 80's, American Hardcore is a documentary worth seeing. Covering many, but not all, of the influential bands that arose in the early to mid-80's, American Hardcore features old performance footage and interviews with Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn of the legendary Black Flag, Minor Threat mastermind Ian MacKaye, and members of other acts including the Bad Brains, Corrosion of Conformity (yes, they were considered hardcore at one time), and the Circle Jerks to boot. While American Hardcore is definitely worth seeing for hardcore music fans, there are some glaring omissions that will make hardcore enthusiasts scratch their heads. The highly influential Dead Kennedys and the Misfits are completely ignored, which isn't just a shame, it's a crime. Not to mention that there are brief discussions of the Suicidal Tendencies and Husker Du; but neither gets the detail they deserve. There are some nice extras included on the DVD though, which is a welcome surprise at least. All in all, American Hardcore does a serviceable and interesting job spotlighting an often dismissed brand of music, but it's hardly as comprehensive as one could hope."
nikita88 | point of entry, venus | 02/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"rejoice, oh, hardcore enthusiasts, here is as close as you will get to a definitive hardcore history as you are likely to find. i watched as paul and steve compiled this pup, and while i don't always agree with the focus (personally, being form the west coast i thought it was a bit boston centered) i recognize that the people that worked on this film- particulary paul and steve- have a true love for the music they documented, and a true respect- unbiased- for the subjects in the film. i was partuicularly impressed with vic bondi and ian mackay's points of view, as well as keith morris, paul mahern, and joey keithly's- and harley's descriptor of the 'big takeover' was so right on that i will never hear that song again without seeing his face in my mind's point of reference. the footage of hr chatting away while a quincinera takes place in the background- totally priceless- and the footage of bands like the zero boys and negative approach..... not to be missed. definitely worth your while; you will not find a more comprehensive overview of the american punk (hardcore) scene out there...... and, yes, i was there the whole time, and yes, it hits the nail on the head."
Hardcore: Being part of the club
Mel Zorro | 03/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am not a fan of Hardcore music, but this documentary sure makes me wish I was part of the club. The general message is: the peak of Hardcore was a moment in time where suburban kids created a musical movement that can never be duplicated. What's great to see is the camaraderie that existed between the bands and the underground nature of their followings. The great juxtaposition is the violence of the music, up against the endearing feelings it created between the people involved. The then and now look at the hardcore scene as presented through various interviews with different musicians is masterfully done. Even if you don't like the music, give this one a watch."
Revisionist but worthwhile
Mustafa Mofo | 06/28/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary does a laudable job surveying the impressive landscape of 'harcore' punk rock from the late '70s to the mid '80s. It contains some rare and exciting live clips and interviews--some contemporary, most present-day, that in themselves make the documentary worth watching. The narration takes viewers from scene to scene, coast to coast, showing how different bands influenced one another and the how the overall scene exploded against the backdrop of the ultraconservative Reagan era. While many important acts (the Dead Kennedys, JFA, Reagan Youth) are omitted, the filmmakers nevertheless do an excellent job of 'coverage;' that is, they acknowledge the breath of the scene and demonstrate its varied articulations on a regional basis, which is undoubtedly the movie's overall strength. The early footage of Poison Idea, Gang Green, and Bad Brains, for me (and I suspect many people from the era) made the film invaluably entertaining. While the film does an excellent job discussing the origins and florescence of the hardcore scene, the interpretation of hardcore's demise suffers from a revisionist subtext that simply misrepresents the issue. Specifically, the authors downplay the role of moronic, violent, Nazi skinheads, whose fascist agenda--which largely attempted to define how punks ought to think and act--killed the 'anything goes' punk rock culture. They instead attribute punk rock's demise to the short attention span of fans and, when pressed to address the issue of violence, reference Circle One and other LA 'gangs.' Bringing attention to these largely Hispanic crews, in my opinion, is an awfully smug attempt to justify the neo-fascist skinhead violence of the era, which is barely mentioned. It's also likely, and unfortunate, that younger viewers will follow this misleading interpretation. To be fair, I don't believe revisionism was intended by the filmmakers. Rather, I think they simply remember things the way they present them here. In this sense, the film is a study in itself at just how difficult it is to document the largely indefinable phenomenon of punk rock. It occurred to me when watching that these bands all inadvertently contributed to punk rock's demise precisely by attempting to do what the video does: that is, to define it (thus, the phrase 'hardcore' punk rock as opposed to the traditional description). The effort to make punk rock into a standardized sound and scene invited the morons and thus killed the freethinking spirit of the original scene. Despite its revisionism, this film goes a long way toward capturing the energy and excitement of the hardcore scene. Anyone interested in punk rock should see this. Nevertheless, if you want to learn about punk rock, no book or film will ever replace the (not so) simple act of doing. Go start your own band."