"Charles Bronson stars in this depression-era movie about a man who is forced to take up bare-knuckled fighting to earn enough money to survive. Bronson arrives in New Orleans with a few coins in his pocket and no prospects. Fortunately for him (and unfortunately for his opponents) he comes across a betting fighting match hosted by two local sharpies. Bronson studies the situation with cold calculating eyes and realizes that he could earn some much needed food money with a few bouts of his own. Introducing himself to one of the local sharpies, (James Colburn, who is superb in his role of a quick talking con-man in constant trouble with the local mob), Bronson and Colburn set out to win a small fortune on the match-making skills of Colburn and the hard punishing fists of Bronson.
Although clearly aging, Bronson is a natural and beleiveable fighter, with a lean muscular body certainly capable of knocking out his opponents. With initial success, Bronson is matched with increasingly tougher opponents, culminating in two "championship" bouts that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Intertwined between the bouts is Bronson and his co-star Jill Ireland (his real-life wife), and their effort to establish a relationship.
I won't spoil the ending for you by revealing the ending, but I will say that if you missed this movie when it was first screened in the mid-1970's, you don't want to miss it again! Although it does not belong on your "classic" shelf, "Hard Times" is one of Charles Bronson's best movies and it will be a treat to view on a Saturday night.
Jim Konedog Koenig"
Where is the special edition ? This is Bronson's finest mome
Mian Sukiman | Jakarta Indonesia | 05/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, Columbia-Tristar released a WS and FS edition (2 sided disc) of the DVD on its initial release but reissue with a full screen only. So those interested in the title must search for the older release which contains the WS edition.
This is a great film, one of Bronson's best and also directorial debut of the great Walter Hill. Set in depression era New Orleans, where Bronson had to earn his dollar by "street fighting". James Coburn and Jill Ireland costar as his manager/promotor and love interest (Obviously) respectively.
I would like to give this DVD a full 5 stars, but with its lack of special features, I can only give 3 stars. A must have DVD though, the 2.0 mono sound is fine and the WS image is ok but deserved to be cleaned up a bit.
Now with all of the principal stars gone (Bronson, Coburn, Ireland), I am surprised that Columbia has yet to issue a special edition of this movie, while releasing several titles over and over (Fifth element, Leon The Professional, Jumanji, legend of Zorro, etc). Please issue a special edition, as this is more deserving movie. I don't think there is any special edition DVD of Bronson's movies. Not even the first Death Wish. I hope Hard Times will be the first in many special edition DVDs to be released. Remember, Charles Bronson is one of the biggest movie star in the world."
One of Bronson's best
Mian Sukiman | 08/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hard Times (known as 'The Streetfighter' here in Australia) is Bronson's best movie alongside Death Wish. The film is set in the 1930's during the depression, and its recreation of this period is outstanding. This is not a movie for hard-core action/fighting fans. Like 'The Karate Kid' and 'Rocky', Hard Times has a real story and interesting characters. Bronson's character, Chaney, is humble, quiet, a bit of a loner - this contrasts nicely with James Coburn's portrayal of Speed, a compulsive gambler who sets up fights for Bronson. Strother Martin and Jill Ireland (Bronson's real-life wife until her death some years ago) are also great in their supporting roles. Nice to see an old forgotten classic like Hard Times released on DVD."
By far, Bronson?s best movie.
dsrussell | Corona, CA. United States | 06/10/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Old stone-face Bronson wasn't always like that, although he certainly was in this movie, which I think is his best by quite a long shot (although I did like "Chato's Land", "Death Hunt", and "The Mechanic" quite a bit). Centered in or around New Orleans in the depression era, the film is about men who earn their living as bare-fisted street fighters, and one of the best is an unknown fighter played by Charles Bronson. James Colburn is great as his sleezy manager in trouble with the mob. This is a highly entertaining movie with some good performances (even Bronson's) along with a realistic view of the era. Between 1 and 10, "Hard Times" gets a well-deserved 8."
Esthetically perfect action film
Chris K. Wilson | Dallas, TX United States | 12/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Walter Hill's 1975 directorial debut "Hard Times" is about as predictable as a "Lone Ranger" radio serial. It's also one of the most esthetically perfect action films you are ever going to see. I'm not sure if there is a single original idea or thought in this Depression era bare-knuckled boxing tale, but it is blessed with a style and verve that raises its level of respectability several notches.
The New Orleans' locale is magnificently used, with detours to Cajun cookouts, strolls through Louisiana graveyards and conversations on French Quarter balconies adding memorable spice to the dramatic gumbo. The trio of stars, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Strother Martin, a bit past their prime, but as comfortable as a worn leather jacket, are perfectly suited as men scarred by the hard knocks of life.
Bronson especially, is given one of the finest roles of his twilight career. He's a man of few words, riding the rails looking to make a buck in bare knuckle fighting. We never really know his past, with his screen persona filling in the gaps. That's a fault. And yet like a ghost, he silently moves in and out of the shadows of New Orleans creating a fiercely independent character we would want on our side. Coburn, as usual, is terrific as the conman who bankrolls Bronson. He's a fast talker, eventually too fast for his own good. Martin, one of the finest character actors in history, is nothing short of brilliant as the cut man struggling with the dark addictions of life. These three characters are going nowhere, but for a brief moment as a team, they buck a corrupt and brutal system.
The fight scenes themselves are nicely choreographed, but what one remembers from "Hard Times" are the quieter moments - Bronson having a cup of coffee in a diner with Jill Ireland, Coburn smoking a cigarette in bed with a prostitute, Martin sitting in a church listening to gospel singers. These characters are weary and tired, and the Depression has left them hopeless and forgotten.
There is really no surprise as to this film's ending. Yet in many ways it is poetically perfect as Bronson, having saved the day, disappears back into the shadows never to return. This is a street legend as old as the hills. We watch the recent film "Sea Biscuit" and roll our eyes at its excess. We watch "Hard Times" and understand this tale at heart, is a simple yet inspirational one. Rarely has the legend been more perfectly executed on film."