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John Henry - Movie Review

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John Henry

You’ve read the folk tale.  You’ve heard of the man who became a living legend.  Hell, you’ve probably heard the AWESOME Johnny Cash song, too.  Now, thanks to a VERY charismatic Terry Crews in the title role, this steel-driving man hits the violent streets of Los Angeles and crushes his way toward bloody revenge.  John Henry’s a gentle giant no more!

"You might know where this flick is headed.  The fun is in getting there thanks to the acting talent"


 

At least that’s the spin on this legendary figure in Will ForbesJohn Henry, an updated take on the legend as seen through blaxploitation films of the 1970s.  With a verbal tip of the hat to Cleopatra Jones and a silent wink toward the panther-like strut of Fred Williamson in Black Caesar, this action flick sees John Henry turn his back on the gun - after a tragic accident when he was a teenager - as he primes his muscles for a never-ending war thanks to his lineage.

One must prepare yourself always when your cousin, named Hell, is a drug-pushing, prostitute-providing, Lord of all things Crime and Grime.  Hell (played exceptionally threateningly by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) has a chip on his shoulder.  It stems from the now bedazzled golden bar wired to the side of his face and he blames it all on his stubborn cousin.  As a result, his empire of criminal activity crosses paths all too frequently with John Henry’s peaceful way of doing things. 

Henry doesn’t even throttle the bozo who runs over his dog as the film begins.  He just scoops the body up and goes back to his residence.  Nevermind the fact that the asshat who did it is out in the street waving a gun at him and demanding he pay for the damages to his vehicle.  That’s John Henry and he isn’t interested in anything but being left alone, be you cop or crook.

And when he isn’t rekindling old flames in a drug store with suave dance moves, he’s caring for his wheelchair-bound father (Ken Foree) who talks at length about the reputation of his legendary dick to those who have no idea of its might.  That’s the world of John Henry.

Yet, it all comes to an end when Berta (Jamila Velazquez) hides under his porch one night.  Because - as revealed through VHS home videotapes - we know that Mr. Henry, while damned intimidating, is a nice man and - when duty calls - he answers with a mighty swing of his monster hands . . . even if it means the criminal on the other end is blood.

You might know where this flick is headed.  The fun is in getting there thanks to the acting talent, the crisp visuals, and that HOT soundtrack which is as fun as it is nostalgic.John Henry

Thanks to some interesting shots of Los Angeles from cinematographer Isiah Donté Lee (who knows EXACTLY what the film needs to look like in order to work properly) and a solid soundtrack (which mixes spaghetti western-like themes with some old school hip-hop thanks to the participation of Compton-native DJ Quik), John Henry absolutely delivers the grease and cheese in what it is aiming to do.  

The film also stars Joseph Julian Soria, Tyler Alvarez, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, but they are all but sidelined by the man-to-man bravado of an ending that sees a towering giant take on a flame-spouting bad guy while standing on the front yard of a house in Compton.  Over the top in blood spatter and often ridiculous in its display of criminals (they all wear white jumpsuits), this movie tackles B-minded revenge drive-in flicks and couples them with the spit and the swagger of spaghetti westerns to create a brand new urban tale of might vs menace in John Henry.

From Paramount Pictures and Saban Films, John Henry is in theaters and streaming platforms NOW.  This hammer’s going to be death of him yet!

4/5 stars

John Henry

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor:
Available on Blu-ray

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John Henry

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, sexual references and some drug use.
Runtime:
91
Director
: Will Forbes
Writer:
Will Forbes, Doug Skinner
Cast:
Terry Crews, Ludacris, Joseph Julian Soria
Genre
: Drama | Thriller
Tagline:
Hear His Hammer Ring.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I think you'll be safe here if you both stay here for a while."
Theatrical Distributor:
Saban Films
Official Site: https://www.thehustle.movie/
Release Date:
January 24, 2020
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: When two immigrant kids on the run from his former South Los Angeles gang leader stumble into his life, John is forced to reconcile with his past in order to try and give them a future.

John Henry

John Henry

4 Reels

 

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