The Tougher They Come — Jamaica’s first movie nonetheless crackles with wit and lyricism

It took Perry Henzell 5 years to make The Tougher They Come. Now the movie is rightly hailed as a traditional, the cult favorite that helped convey reggae to the west. However when Henzell began work within the late Nineteen Sixties, the one folks keen to fund Jamaica’s first function movie — shot in patois to higher serve the Jamaican viewers — had been the director’s family and friends.

Nonetheless, destiny smiled on an eventual launch in 1972 — the world by then primed by the field workplace success of Shaft and a free-floating temper of anti-colonialism. To the Venice Movie Competition! However extra vital had been the numerous younger followers who noticed the movie in much less stylish environment, making it a popular culture landmark.

Fifty years on, an anniversary re-release places the film again in cinemas. The uncooked magnetism of star Jimmy Cliff nonetheless crackles as Ivanhoe Martin, bumpkin-turned-gunman in a pitiless Kingston amid the rigged video games of the music enterprise and the ganja commerce. And sure, the soundtrack is killer. However it’s typically neglected how deft Henzell is simply too, conjuring Kingston’s bristle and chaos with a diamond-hard vérité, spiced with wit and lyricism. “Sit tight and hear keenly,” ska legend Prince Buster tells us. Watch each bit as avidly.

★★★★★

In UK cinemas from August 5

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