BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Hammer (1972) - Blu-ray Review

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Hammer - Blu-ray Review

2 beers

Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em!

Former NFL player, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, stars as a low-ranked boxer who takes on the mob in this Blaxploitation flick from the early 1970s. With little suspense and some shoddy action scenes, Hammer manages to earn some street cred thanks to the charisma of its star. He can walk a mean strut and deliver as knockout punch to a whole lot of thugs while earning the attention of ladies everywhere as a funkified (and, curiously, still unreleased) score courtesy of soul legend Solomon Burke plays in the background.

Hammer is a street-smart picture with little purpose. It tells the tale of a boxer-on-the-rise as he begins working matches, unbeknownst to him at first, for the mob. His new mob-connected girlfriend, Lois (Vanetta McGee from Blacula), tries to guide him safely through the underground life but The Hammer cannot be controlled and, as the two fall in love, he eventually goes against the mob’s wishes and refuses to throw a fight causing both of them to be in harm’s way.

The dockworker-turned-prize fighter film is directed by Bruce Clerk (Galaxy of Terror) and, while never silly, it doesn’t manage to be as serious as the crackling cinematography from Robert Steadman lets on thanks in large part to its use of empty-headed slang. I’ve never heard ANYONE talk as inauthentic as the people in this movie. Obviously, its writer – Charles Johnson – never had before but that didn’t stop him from scraping the ghetto for inauthentic commercial appeal. You will either cringe or laugh at some of the lines as Hammer compares women to buses while leaving his ugly girl for a better ride.

Hammer is rough around the edges and embellishes its tale without any flair. While there are fights, there is little in the way of blood and, while beautiful and bountiful, the female cast are merely set decoration for a rather predictable tale of survival. The basic premise – a decent dude at odds with powerful people who think they pull his strings – is ALWAYS engaging when done correctly and definitely adds to the appeal of the picture when the actual skill of its makers does not. There are sour notes throughout this one, though, and it keeps it from being something more in the Blaxploitation genre.

Williamson, who also starred in M*A*S*H, Black Caesar, and The Inglorious Bastards from 1977), is a likable leading guy (this is his first) and probably deserved a better career in film than the one the Blaxploitation flicks he starred in (and produced) offered but one seriously cannot complain when you look at the impact he had on the genre with quality films like Boss Nigger. The film also features a couple of super ham-fisted performances from Blaxploitation staples like Bernie Hamilton and William Smith.

Made at the beginning of the Black Cinema movement in Hollywood, Hammer has all the right ingredients to be a success, it just gets served a bit undercooked.

Hammer - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
92 mins
Director
: Bruce D. Clark
Writer:
Charles Eric Johnson
Cast:
Fred Williamson, Bernie Hamilton, Vonetta McGee
Genre
: Action
Tagline:
...is a black explosion!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "They call him The Hammer."
Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 20, 1972
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 9, 2015
Synopsis: A dock worker becomes a prizefighter, but gets mixed up with a crooked manager. A sympathetic L.A. detective tries to set him straight, but he won't listen. His manager, who is also a drug dealer, tells him that he has to take a dive during an important fight, and to ensure his cooperation, his girlfriend is kidnapped.

Hammer - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 9.  2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Retaining the grain and grit of its low-budget, Olive Films presents Hammer on blu-ray with a new 1080P transfer. In spite of its technical limitations, there is a solid contrast through most of the picture and even the colors appear brighter than before. Skin tones are solid and the details in some of the period clothing are sharp. There is some noticeable print damage as there has been little attempt at a proper cleaning. While there is ZERO depth to many of the shots and dirt and some scratches still pop up, Hammer doesn’t deliver a sucker punch. The DTS 2.0 mono soundtrack is solid.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • No

Special Features:

None

 

 

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