Sudden Impact ★★★½

Clint Eastwood directs the last worthwhile Dirty Harry outing, and probably the second best sequel after 1973's 'Magnum Force'.

By the time the '80s roll around, Harry Callahan is older and more bitter than ever. With a string of dead partners behind him and the criminal justice system as ineffective as ever, he's reduced to smacking conmen around and harassing mobsters he can't arrest. He's even more of a nuisance to his department, who really seem to have lost patience with Callahan's destructive methods.

Callahan becomes such a marked man in 'Sudden Impact' that the film soon takes on a kind of 'Lone Wolf and Cub' vibe: like Ogami Itto in those '70s Japanese classics, Callahan seems unable to go anywhere or do anything without having to fight off an assassination attempt. This becomes almost comical, perhaps prompting the almost explicitly parodic approach of 1988's awful 'The Dead Pool'.

'Sudden Impact' even seems to lift its plot from one of Itto's adventures. The main case involves Callahan tracking down a young woman who is systematically wiping out her rapists: an idea right out of 'Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril' (1972). As with that film, our hero ends up sympathising with the woman - but the ending is expectedly different.

Lumbered with more weak villains and a lack of focus, 'Sudden Impact' falls far short of the original film, but it's so packed with classic Callahan incident that it's hard to really criticise - especially for a third sequel.