BAMF Blaxploitation Archive: HAMMER

hammerBAMF’s Blaxploitation Archive is a collection of reviews originally written in the 1990s that appeared in the pages of BadAzz MoFo. This review and many others have been reprinted and collected in BadAzz MoFo’s Book of Blaxploitation, Volume One, which is now available for purchase.

HAMMER 1972 director: Bruce Clark; starring: Fred Williamson, Bernie Hamilton, Vonetta McGee, William Smith, Charles Lampkin
Taking its name from Fred Williamson’s NFL nickname, Hammer is a great film…when you consider it was produced by the King of Crap, Al Adamson (Black Heat, Death Dimension); or if you’ve never seen a movie before. But in terms of regular movies—movies that were crafted with some concern for entertaining the audience, and not driving people like me to assault the elderly—this bad boy has very little to offer anyone who isn’t a fan of Williamson, or a devout historian of blaxploitation, or both.

Here we have Williamson as B.J. Hammer, a former boxer turned dockworker about to turn boxer again. It seems that our man Hammer has quite the promising future, except for the fact that his manager is a dope-dealing gangster. Of course, for a street-smart survivor, Hammer is more naïve than some teenage chick from Countrybama, fallen off the back of a turnip truck. As our story continues to unfold, no boxing movie cliché is left unexplored, Hammer romances the ultra-fine Vonetta McGee (Melinda, while the tough-but-lovable cop Bernie Hamilton (Starsky & Hutch’s Captain Dobey) tries to convince Hammer shit ain’t all good. Meanwhile, Hammer’s manager Big Sid (Lampkin) and his evil honky henchman (Smith) continue to wreck havoc on the brothas and sistas, and flood the streets with poisonous dope. Oh yeah, Hammer is told he most throw the championship fight, or his main squeeze will come down with a permanent case of the deaths. Original. Very original.

While Hammer never sinks to the dreaded depths of most films by Adamson, it never rises above the level of bad 70s television either (although it is better than the Shaft television series). Marginally entertaining as far as low budget B-movies go, this is a case of a film being more interesting for it’s historical significance than anything else. Released in September 1972, Hammer came on the heels of The Legend of Nigger Charley, which was released in March of ‘72. Both films were responsible for launching Williamson as a leading man action star, a reputation that was solidified a few months later with the release of Black Caesar.

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