Walter Hill is a director that I admire greatly especially during his peak period in the late 70’s early 80’s with films like The Warriors, Streets of Fire and Southern Comfort.
Hard Times was his first directorial effort and comes with a fine cast of Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Strother Martin and is set in the depression era where drifter Chaney (Bronson) stumbles upon an illegal bare-knuckle fight when he arrives in New Orleans and after watching the bout approaches the manager of the loser Speed (James Coburn) and offers his services so they can both make money.
Amused by his confidence for a man of his age he reluctantly agrees but changes his mind about the fighter after he knocks out his first opponent with a single punch. Travelling together, Speed has big plans for Chaney, but Chaney tells him that once he has made his money he will be gone. But after Speed gets into some serious gambling debts that may cost him his life, Chaney decides to hold one more fight against an opponent who will test him to the limit.
A fantastic enjoyable period piece, Bronson is at his best, not saying a lot but conveying so much more with just a look or movement. Coburn is also excellent as the gambling-addicted manager who just can’t give up his addiction to earn just one more big payout. Strother Martin adds class as the drug-addicted doctor and at an economical running time, this is an action film that does not outstay its welcome.
The Blu ray release from Indicator has a fabulous 1080p transfer struck from a new 4k scan. Black levels are solid, sharpness excellent for most of the feature and a very healthy looking colour palate. Audio has two choices the original mono Linear PCM 1.0 or a remixed DTS 5.1 MA track. Both are excellent and the DTS obviously gives you slightly more ambience in the sound field.
A good selection of extras round off the package. First one is an interview with director Walter Hill who discusses the films birth and his reluctance at first to use Bronson or Coburn, his views on the cinematographer Philip Lathrop and much more. Very interesting.
Then you have an interview with producer Lawrence Gordon who tells about the origins of the screenplay (it was originally called The Streetfighter which is the titles it was released as in the UK) and about his friendship with the director. Also interviewed is composer Barry DeVorson. Rounding off you have an audio-only interview with Walter Hill from the NFT, the original trailer and an informative booklet.
Another great release from Indicator and the disc like the others released by them is region free.
FILM: 8 PICTURE: 9 AUDIO: 8 EXTRAS: 8