Tough Guys (1974)

A Priest and an Ex-Cop walk into a bar… Heard that one before?  You may have heard that one before, but you probably haven’t seen it before.  Tough Guys is exactly that joke, and you’d be surprised how good they work together – and that priest can throw one hell of a slap.

After an insurance claim investigator turns up dead while investigating a bank robbery claim (say that 5 times fast), his priest, Father Charlie (Lino Ventura) vows to the investigator’s wife that he’s going find out what happened.  Lee (Isaac Hayes) is also interested in the case and when he sees Father Charlie getting into a fight with three toughs outside of the bar where his buddy was murdered, he’s on the case.

Lee was a cop, and got lured away from the location of the robbery – resulting in him getting kicked off of the force, and he feels some obligation to the case.  He decides to help out Charlie, and try to get some revenge of his own on the people who helped him lose his job.  What results is an hour and a half of blaxploitation action and mystery, which has a decent amount of action, and is light on the mystery.

The problem with Tough Guys is that it’s a mystery with no mystery.  You can figure out in the first 15 minutes who the bad guy is, but seeing Lee and Charlie get there is half the fun.  I was always under the impression that priests were against violence, but in Father Charlie’s case, he’s a reformed bad boy who can slap the white (or black, or latino) off of your face without batting an eye.  I guess it’s ok for priests to slap people, but not punch, since I don’t think you see Charlie throw a single one of those throughout the entire movie.  Lee isn’t afraid to slap a bitch either, and I was pretty surprised to see him give a ho the shakedown to get information.  They are definitely two dudes you don’t want to mess with.

Tough Guys is pretty thin on plot, but pretty big on fun, and that’s what kept me watching.  It didn’t hurt that it had a nice funky score by the one and only Isaac Hayes, which there’s plenty of.   If you’re in the mood for a brainless buddy action flick with a twist of mystery in it, give Tough Guys a try.  It reminded me a lot of Slaughter, except without all the womanizing and boobs – and more of a priest in his tighty whiteys while his buddy irons his pants.  Tough Guys gets 3 strong slaps in the face out of 5.


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