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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

A Woke Wild West Wet Dream

The Harder They Fall on IMDb

Plot Overview

Early on intertitles in this western clue us to not take its history—circa 1890—seriously. We already are aware that westerns are mostly bunk, not really how things happened, but this one diverges radically from even the accepted mystique. First of all, there's this map, in the back­­ground to be sure, but it appears in multiple scenes. On it we can discern the shape of the American continent from its coast­line contours, but the colored-in portion is of the Southern states only, from Texas on east­ward. The area above that is blank and referred to as “the territories.” If you feel like taking a knee to the Star Spangled Banner, you needn't bother any more, not for this movie, because there is no United States. Only The Confederacy.

But that's okay, because here the Confederacy is of free states and always has been. We needn't say N-word for nigger, 'cause they ain't never been nobody's niggas; don't exist by that name. Society is acceptably segregated between white and black towns, both doing well enough through dint of application. Don't have to tear down any general's statues either, because the army is held in contempt on account of their atrocities; they don't rate any statues. And every­one except for bankers is equally uneducated.

crucifiedWhat we do have is gang wars … among multiple gangs … multiple black gangs. But we're given the back­stories on a couple gang leaders to learn it was their early child­hood experiences—at around age ten—that knocked them off the straight and narrow. It's not their fault, not completely, that they went bad. That being the case we can enjoy the dramas, shoot­outs, and cat fight. They are done with much panache.


In for a penny, in for a pound. If we can eliminate historical slavery from America, we might as well take care of the whole world. Historian Kenneth M. Stampp remarks that “Apologists for slavery traced the history of servitude back to the dawn of civilization and showed that it had always existed in some form until their own day” (14). “The Harder They Fall” shows us how to nip it in the bud, at least for this story.

This movie focuses on the lives of two half-brothers whose father treated them differently and who grew up to be gang leaders with a “professional dispute” with each other. In the Genesis account of the Flood, is a mystery woman, the mother of Ham. (Gen. 6:10) “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Let's look again at Noah's story (Jasher 5:14-17):

And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife. And Naamah conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Japheth, saying, God has enlarged me in the earth; and she conceived again and bare a son, and he called his name Shem, saying, God has made me a remnant, to raise up seed in the midst of the earth.

Researcher Mark DeWayne Combs posits that, “Although Jasher specific­ally references the births of Japheth and Shem, there is no such reference to the birth of Ham. … that Ham may have been much younger than his brothers and that he may have had a different mother” (389). (See my review of “Project Almanac” for a fuller explanation.) Combs also observes, “Fathering a child, particularly a son, through a hand­maiden or servant girl would not have been an uncommon or forbidden practice in that time period” (165).

Shem and Japheth were full brothers, Ham was born at a later date (the youngest, see Gen. 9:24) perhaps from a different mother. Noah's wife was older than he was. Perhaps at 580+ years she was no longer able to bear children after the first two. She didn't have any more after the flood, even though it was a time to repopulate the Earth. Maybe she stopped bearing before the flood. Ham would then be step­brother of the other two.

After the Flood, Gen. 9:18-19, there was an incident, Gen. 9:20-22, where Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him so. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him in some way, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. Canaan in Ham's line was probably singled out for mention because of the Canaanites' later dealings with the Semitic Israelites. More germane to modern times is perhaps the lineage of Cush. Cush was also a son of Ham (Gen. 10:6), settling in Africa. Cush is Hebrew meaning black. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (trans­lates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62).

plowingThis historical incident, which if one goes back that far, is shared in common by the east and west. Noah's father Lamech had (Gen. 5:29) “called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” After the flood one day, Noah took some leisure time, stripped down in his tent, and got drunk. Mrs Noah being a good wife made her­self scarce while Noah decom­pressed from his day's labor. She went off to visit her youngest son Ham telling him not to bother his father. Disobedient Ham came knocking and discovered Noah plastered. He went and mocked him to his two older brothers (Gen. 9:20-23). Ham was perturbed that his father had gotten naked with­out setting about to procreate as God commanded. He also didn't like his father taking a recess from rebuilding the wrecked world. Noah's rejoinder was along the lines of, “Oy! Vey! You want we should have children and work harder? Okay, your descendants (Canaan) can be slaves to your brothers. Oy! Vey!” (Gen. 9:24-27).

In biblical wisdom terms it's like, (Prov. 30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” In our movie, the older son mocked his father's request to settle a matter out­side between the two of them and leave his new wife and son out of it. He also refused his (step-)mother's advice telling him, “No, no, no” and proceeded to do what he did. We did not see a literal bird pluck out his eye, but he did later in life receive an arterial neck wound that pumped blood. Close enough.

There's a biblical alternative to mutilation in, (Exodus 21:26) “And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.” Ham's offspring went into servitude rather than having an eye put out or what­ever. In the historical context of God having just drowned the whole world for its wickedness, and going forward instituting capital punishment (Gen. 9:5), a heavy-handed discipline for gross disrespect doesn't seem so out of place. Noah did seem to have control of the animals (birds) particularly the ravens (Gen. 8:7). But rather than effecting corporal punishment he assigned extra chores.

Those extra chores included Negro slavery. Just change Noah's punishment of Ham to a corporal one instead, and in one fell stroke Negro slavery disappears from the Globe. The South being the Bible Belt was familiar with Noah's story and used it to justify black enslavement. Rewrite the story and the South has no slaves. The Yankees are confused about it, or just ignorant, but they don't count in this movie.

Production Values

” (2021) was directed by Jeymes Samuel. Its screenplay was written by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin. It stars Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors and Regina King. All the actors gave strong performances, which is the best that can be said for a Western shoot-'em-up. All the major parts were necessarily filled with blacks, which could potentially be a problem for any­one to whom all blacks look alike. This was mitigated by making each one a unique character in his or her own right. Creative costuming helped too, as did filling the lead role, as boy and man, with an actor with more pronounced Negroid features—puffy lips, flared nose—than the others. It made him stand out.

MPAA rated it R for strong violence and language. At least they didn't have automatic weapons, just a plethora of six shooters and rifles … and some explosives. The cuss words were the worst. Saying nigger was strongly discouraged but could be heard in the back­ground rap. It was filmed on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Its runtime is 2 hours 10 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

The audience either loved it or hated it. I was getting myself worked up to be offended by its liberal wokeness until I realized what was happening, and then it was funny. That's the problem with heavy sarcasm: it can fall flat on a dense viewer. This is a bold vision that not every­one will appreciate.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Many moments of suspense. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Combs, Mark DeWayne. End the Beginning. USA: Splinter in the Mind's Eye Pub., 2014. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Translated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo lithographic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Stampp, Kenneth M., Professor of American History at the University of California (Berkeley).
   The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. Vintage Books, 1955. Print.