The Gambler & The Fighter
Drifting from one place to another by jumping trains, Chaney (Charles Bronson) arrives in town where he comes across Speed (James Coburn), a fast talking gambler who handles street fighters. With Chaney quickly showing his skill in the illegal world of bare knuckle, anything goes fighting the two of them form a union, a temporary one for Chaney who wants Speed to arrange a few fights for big money. In order to do so Speed borrows from gangsters to buy in to a big fight which Chaney wins. The trouble is that Speed doesn't know when to stop and he ends up losing his side of the winnings and getting pressure from the gangsters to have Chaney enter another fight, something he is reluctant to do.
13 years after starring as a boxing coach to Elvis Presley in "Kid Galahad" Charles Bronson gets to play the fighter in "Hard Times" one of the most uncomplicated movies you will ever stumble across. Whilst uncomplicated is actually a pain when it comes to reviewing this movie it does make it an extremely accessible movie for anyone to watch. And it is a stylish one as well with Walter Hill doing a nice job of delivering a depression era which looks good but not overly stuffy in authenticity, I suppose in a way I am saying it has an almost rough and ready look which is ideal for the storyline.
So I said that "Hard Times" is uncomplicated and it really is as we have a mysterious fighter in Chaney, the classic man of few words but plenty of wisdom, alongside him is the typical fast talking Speed, always on a hustle, always dreaming big but never wise enough to stop before it is too late and he gambles his money away. And yes that means at some point Speed ends up in over his head and in need of Chaney's help who is a man who looks after himself first but has a side to him which makes you wonder if he will help out the closest person he has to a friend. There is a bit more with Chaney ending up becoming close to a married woman whose husband is doing time but all that does is add to the dilemma of whether he will help out Speed. As I said it is uncomplicated and whilst not the greatest of boxing/fighting movies it is entertaining purely because like when Eastwood did the fighter thing Bronson has that same sort of a man's man appeal.
Now on the subject of Charles Bronson he is well cast as the man of few words as he has that seasoned face of a man who has experienced so much he can convey everything through a look. But Bronson also looks in fantastic shape; slim, toned and delivers a mix of hunger and confidence which makes him believable when it comes to the fight scenes. Coburn's casting is just as good as he not only delivers the quick patter of a wheeler dealer but his features, his slimness also works for the character of Speed who has experienced much and probably gone hungry at times due to his mistakes.
What this all boils down to is that "Hard Times" is just a good piece of simple entertainment with a good cast, some nice action and the usual reliable direction of Walter Hill. There is nothing complicated about this movie in the slightest but it keeps you watching from start to finish.
Tags: Boxing Movies