Hard Times is not only a supremely entertaining film, but a true artistic achievement. The director, Walter Hill, took a simple story and turned it into a cinematic masterpiece. The mood and atmosphere is truly astounding, and the acting performances of all the players absolutely excellent.
Set during the depression era, this bare knuckle story of a down and out drifter, played by Bronson, who street fights to earn some money is never slow. The fight choreography is breathtaking, and to the director's and screenwriters credit (Walter Hill, Bryan Gindorf, and Bruce Henstell) they manage to not only write an entertaining story, but actually manage to create a variety of characters with interesting depth, highly unusual for a film of this genre.
In my opinion, and I am a Charles Bronson fan, this is his best film. He gives us not only great action sequences, but develops a character of intersting complexity and emotion. A true gritty hero during hard times!!
Also, special kudos have to go out to an exceptionally strong supporting cast. Great performances all around, from James Coburn and Strother Martin to Jill Ireland and Michael McGuire. However, special mention has to go out to Robert Tessier and Nick Dimitri, who not only conveyed scary and tough opponents to Bronson's character, but also showed impressive acting strength in being able to show their characters in more than a one dimensional framework. Especially in respect to Robert Tessier, whom I believe in this film, developed one of the most charismatic and memorable tough guys in cinematic history. A performance he should always be remembered for.
A truly great film.