In a world where Blaxploitation comes in all forms, this low-budget film cannot be taken seriously as we are dealing with definitive Mystery Science Theater 3000 fare.
Al Connors is a private investigator who has moved from his hometown of Harlem to Miami because there are simply too many detectives in New York City. He takes pride in his job and one day, he gets a visit from his old hometown friend David McLeod, who has been working for the Central Intelligence Agency. Al is hired to protect for 24 hours an African diplomat’s wife who is to meet with the U.S. Secretary of State. Posing as a husband and wife, Al and Mrs. Ashanti hide out in a hotel room but soon learn Mrs. Ashanti is a target of a kidnapping ring by local mob boss Big Daddy.
When Al successfully has Mrs. Ashanti brought to her meeting the following day, he thinks everything is okay. That is, until another crime boss by the name of Harry De Bauld comes to Al’s office. He needs Al’s help in rescuing his daughter Wanda, who was kidnapped by Big Daddy’s men. Al takes the job for $25,000 and begins his rescue mission. When he learns the truth about Wanda’s kidnapping, he intends to make things right by confronting Harry about an aspect of his crimes that estranged the relationship between father and daughter. To make sure everything is right, Al will also have to face Big Daddy.
This 1976’s Blaxploitation film is an attempt to prove that anyone can make a film. While there are definitive films of that genre, namely Shaft and Foxy Brown to name a few, there are others that are not too great but have a cult following. For instance, Dolemite comes to mind there. Then, there are bottom of the barrel fare that just cannot be taken seriously and this film is one of those.
Granted, the blame cannot be placed on lead actor Loye Hawkins, who plays our titular “Guy from Harlem”, P.I. Al Connors. Hawkins makes the most of what has to be some of the most ridiculous material written and had it not been for his performance, this would have been a complete and utter waste of time, which many will feel that is what it is. Basically, the film would have been better off as two episodes of a locally shot television series because it involves our hero in not one, but two cases that are somehow connected and in some aspect, end the same way.
Some of the ridiculous material written includes Al having to hide his “cases” in the apartment of his current girlfriend and she has to leave. What results of course is Al having his way with his “cases” but in an interesting twist, they just involve making out and then cut to next scene, rather than the normal love scenes seen in these type of films. The action of the film is also beyond ridiculous. While they are all fight scenes, they are some of the worst fight scenes ever seen in film. Even young kids who do fight scenes on YouTube look like martial heroes compared to the fights here. There are no sound effects to accompany the hits, camera angles are not great at times, and in one fight, Al uses some sort of ballet move to counter an armbar and then proceeds to choke out his opponent using something that looks more like a move done in CPR situations.
Thankfully, after a small role in a 1980 movie, Loye Hawkins would leave acting behind and focus on his true passion, music. He is the leader of the Loye Hawkins Band, a jazz band these days.
The Guy from Harlem is so bad that if you plan on seeing this movie, take a group of your friends and make it a MST3K night and comment and laugh your way through this film, which just cannot be taken seriously…ever! If you do plan to take this seriously, do not say you have not been warned!
WFG RATING: F (only if you plan to take this film seriously…if not make your own rating)
An International Cinema Inc. Production. Director: Rene Martinez Jr. Writer: Gardenia Martinez. Cinematography: Rafael Remy. Editing: Rene Martinez Jr.
Cast: Loye Hawkins, Cathy Davis, Patricia Fulton, Wanda Starr, Steve Gallon, Lester Wilson, Wayne Crawford, Vaughan Harris, Michael Murrell, Amanda Schon.