Friday Flashback: Clint Eastwood vs. the World’s Dumbest Criminals in “Sudden Impact”

Kevin: It’s Eastwood Appreciation Day here at Tough Guy Digest, as we earlier marked the release of Clint’s latest inspirational true story “The 15:17 to Paris” with a Tag Team of his less inspirational, totally not true story “The Rookie,” in which he and Charlie Sheen seek to bring down the leader of a car theft ring (Raul Julia) who keeps claiming he’s German even though he is clearly Puerto Rican. Of course the gold standard from the days when Clint played no-nonsense cops who solved all of society’s problems by shooting lots of people is still “Sudden Impact,” the fourth entry in the “Dirty Harry” franchise. TGD harkens back to a simpler time when action heroes like Clint barely broke a sweat gunning down some of the stupidest and laziest bad guys ever committed to film:

(Originally posted Jan. 4, 2017)


Dirty Harry doing what he does best: light paperwork.

Kevin: John McClane and Hans Gruber. Rocky and Ivan Drago. Casey Ryback and William Strannix. Riggs and whatever the South African guy was named in “Lethal Weapon 2.” Many action fans think that an iconic hero is only as memorable as the villain he is up against. Well that was certainly not a belief shared by Clint Eastwood when he directed the fourth installment of the Dirty Harry franchise, “Sudden Impact.”

San Francisco’s least-going-by-the-book cop did start out with a worthy adversary in 1971’s “Dirty Harry,” which ended with Det. Harry Callahan jumping on to a moving school bus and then engaging in a long foot chase with serial killer Scorpio before giving his opponent the chance to see how lucky he was (Spoiler alert: not very). But by 1983 Clint apparently decided he wanted to exert as little energy as possible, which is why in “Sudden Impact” he faces off against possibly the slowest bad guys – both in mind and in reflexes – in action cinema history.

This is signaled early on when Callahan goes to get coffee at his usual diner spot, leading to a catchphrase so famous that a certain former-actor-turned-president used it in one of his speeches. (Warning: If you have not seen “Sudden Impact” yet and perhaps are waiting until 2018 to catch it on its 35th anniversary, you may want to avoid the following spoiler-filled videos):

Note to any enterprising young criminals out there: If in the middle of your robbery you are confronted by an imposing badass who says his friends are the name of a major gun manufacturer while he reaches into his jacket, START SHOOTING IMMEDIATELY! I would also advise the guy on the receiving end of Callahan’s “Make my day” line that the whole “putting a gun to the hostage’s head” thing doesn’t work as well when you instead point the gun toward the ceiling, as he inexplicably does.

Also, we can’t really avoid the elephant in the room here, which is that viewed through a modern politically correct lens, the depiction of the all-black criminal gang and their jive-talking leader (“What you doin’ pig-head sucka”) is – as the kids might say today – “problematic as fuck.” In fact, Clint’s view of how African-American criminals talk hasn’t changed much since the bank robber who first got to hear Callahan’s “Do you feel lucky speech?” in “Dirty Harry”:

(Weird bit of trivia: After appearing as the bank robber in the original, actor Albert Popwell showed up as different characters in the next three Dirty Harry movies, first as a pimp in “Magnum Force” and then as a black militant in “The Enforcer,” before moving up to play one of Callahan’s detective colleagues in “Sudden Impact.” Hey, maybe he was actually supposed to be the same guy, who started out in crime before turning his life around and not only joining the same police force that tried to imprison him, but becoming an equal of the man who shot him in the arm all those years ago. Unlikely I know, but I’d like to imagine, okay?)

In Clint’s defense he’s doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the criminals in this movie, as he makes sure to leave room for Italian mafia hitmen, young punks, and even redneck women to feel hot lead in the film. In fact the worst of the lot are a group of white scumbag rapists who all sport mustaches. I have a feeling the real reason Clint wanted to direct “Sully” was to finally show the American public that not all men with mustaches are horrible sexually depraved scum (only 70%).

(To read the rest of our post on Eastwood’s “Sudden Impact,” please click HERE)


Look at these creeps, they must be wanted for something.

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