The Hard Way (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

The Hard Way (2019) - Title Card

The Hard Way pushes you to wonder why Michael J. White isn’t an action star with decent budget movies, beyond Spawn, in his filmography?

The Hard Way pushes you to wonder why Michael J. White isn’t an action star with decent budget movies, beyond Spawn, in his filmography?

Director(s) Keoni Waxman
Written By Thomas J. Churchill, Keoni Waxman
Date Released 3/5/2019
Genre(s) Action
Good If You Like Seeing A Black Man Whoop People’s Behinds With Some Form Of Karate

Revenge Plots

Isn’t For You If You Need Charismatic Villains

Like When There Are Twists Or Some Sense of Mystery

Noted Cast
John Payne Michael Jai White
Arnold Randy Couture
Cody Grant Campbell
Lacy Madalina Anea
Mason Luke Goss

The Hard Way Plot Summary (Ending Explained on Page 2)

John and Cody are brothers, formerly in a special ops group, but John has been retired for a while and wants to live a chill life. However, with something happening to his brother in Romania, he flies halfway across the world to finish what his brother started. Also, to protect those his brother left behind.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • It is around March 2018 in the movie.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. While John was away, who was protecting the bar?

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

John Payne (Michael Jai White) nothing he does not give a f***.
John Payne (Michael Jai White): And clearly, you do not understand the degree of a fuck that I don’t give.


Michael Jai White

John Payne (Michael Jai White) letting someone know they about to get their ass whipped.
John Payne (Michael Jai White): You let me get too close.

The strongest part of The Hard Way is Michael Jai White and considering how he handles himself, both in action scenes and when in conversation, it leads you to wonder why he isn’t a bigger action star. For whether you are simply talking about the man’s stature and presence, or seeing how his legs fly, arms gracefully fling out and whip people around, he reminds you why martial art films used to be a staple in the action genre. And, without argument, he pretty much carries the movie.

On The Fence

The Fight Scenes

Despite White’s skills, unfortunately, you don’t get a lot of fight sequences which make you flinch. In the effort to present style and complex choreography, we don’t get that sense a minion or villain really just got f***ed up. Yes, there is blood, groans, sounds of contact, but never that moment when you just grimace and question if something really got broken.

The Story & Villain

Mason (Luke Goss) and Cody (Grant Campbell) as Cody is dying.
Cody (Grant Campbell): John always knows.

Nothing about this story or its villain is going to feel fresh, shocking, or like Waxman or Churchill are the best screenwriters out there. It is just good enough to create some story between White whooping someone’s ass. It doesn’t create emotional depth, there isn’t a sense of urgency, and there isn’t the vibe that if John doesn’t get the job done, something bad will happen tomorrow. All he’d do is disrupt a machine which is well oiled and running without issue.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

Available on Netflix

While an entertaining watch, you aren’t going to remember what you saw within a week. It’s something to watch to kill time, and the only positive thing that comes from this is hoping Michael Jai White is given more opportunities. For he truly seems like an action star who just hasn’t gotten enough blockbusters yet.

Leading to why the mixed label. While White holds his part down, between a generic story, a villain who doesn’t bring about much in the way of emotion, and the film having fight scenes which are way too polished, this film is divisive. Add in the relationships between characters not boosting the film at all, and it makes this something not necessarily worth digging into the Netflix archives unless you really don’t have anything left to watch.

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