“Hit!” with Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor.
Never heard of it? No real surprise.The film sort of came and went when it was released by Paramount in 1973, and wasn’t released on DVD until 2012, courtesy of Olive Films who released in on home video, all amamorphic, in its correct ratio and, even better, on Blu-ray in April 2012.
If buying or renting a hardcopy of it isn’t your cup of tea, you should know that the film is now streaming on Netflix, as of this week!
In “Hit!,” director Sidney J. Furie, along with Williams and Pryor, were all riding high and with some clout, after the success of 1972’s “Lady Sings the Blues” got them together again; but this time without Diana Ross.
The result was this action thriller, in which Williams plays a federal agent whose daughter dies from a drug overdose. He’s determined to track down the suppliers all the way, eventually, to Marseilles, and kill them all. However, the film has a clever twist. Instead of rounding up the expected group of other agents and special-ops professionals to track down and eliminate the dealers, Williams, to avoid being discovered at what he’s up to by his superiors, puts together a team of ordinary people like Pryor, and an elderly couple whose lives have been destroyed tragically by drugs, and trains them to wipe out the dealers.
Great premise, but sloppy execution. “Hit!,” for an action thriller, takes forever to get started, and once it does, has little action or thrills. Though the film does liven up a bit during the last 20 or so minutes of its 135-minute running time, it’s too little, too late. It’s a film of missed opportunities, which is a real shame, since it has a lot of things going for it, like Pryor in great form.
But the premise has all the ingredients for an exciting, high octane, thrill-a-minute, action movie, and I think this is a case where a remake is very much warranted, with Denzel Washington in the Williams role (Yeah I know. There are other actors out there, but the part just screams Denzel to me), and maybe Chris Rock or Eddie Murphy or Wanda Sykes in the Pryor role.
Check it out now streaming on Netflix, and let me know what you think…