Hard Times (1975)
"Hard Times" by Yojimbo
Charles Bronson plays Chaney, a drifter who chances upon small time bare knuckle boxing manager James Coburn and they form a partnership to make some money in depression era New Orleans. A great sense of period in a similar vein to Bonnie And Clyde permeates this compelling streetfighting drama, directed with the usual no-nonsense approach of boy's own favourite and Peckinpah protege Walter Hill. To be sure, it's a veritable testosterone fest, but it's by no means your typical Van Damme style action nonsense. Bronson has never been better as the laconic fighter who sees his bouts as pure business; there's no malice in him and there's a total absence of the kind of glorification of violence you see in most boxing films. In this way it has far more in common with the likes of Raging Bull or On The Waterfront. Coburn is also excellent as the smart mouthed hustler he befriends and Jill Ireland's unsentimental love interest has never made the down at heel seem more glamorous. A simple but effective story that highlights Bronson's consummate badassery without the usual trashiness that accompanies most male-orientated tough guy films and easily one of Hill's best moments.