Geoff T’s review published on Letterboxd:
Geoff T's Dirty Harry Marathon #4
Sudden Impact (1983)
The Dirty Harry series enters a new decade, this time Clint Eastwood himself both directing and starring for the first and only time in the series' history. This chapter is very much a "love it or hate it affair" with some considering it one of the worst in the series or the best of the sequels. While I disagree with both, I have to say I enjoyed it a hell of alot more than it's predecessor.
This one takes more of a different direction as a rape-revenge thriller that's unarguably the darkest and sleaziest entry in the series. Harry after intimidating and giving a mob boss a heart attack (who was acquitted for a murder) is assigned to a case in nearby Santa Cruz (named 'San Paulo' in-universe for whatever reason) where artist Jennifer Spencer (played by Clint's then-partner Sondra Locke) is taking revenge on her and her sister's rapists one by one.
Locke was never a very strong actress, but her character does make for an interesting subplot. The movie is definitely at it strongest when it focuses on Harry more, this time being armed with a more powerful and faster 44 Magnum. One thing that makes Sudden Impact stand out in the series is it's cast of unusually vile and repulsive characters, like a gang of vile rapists led by degenerate creep Mick and a foul-mouthed lesbian named Ray who is also on Spencer's shit-list.
Some parts feel a little unneeded, such as the introduction of a pissing and farting dog in Clint's new hotel room (given to him by his new partner Horace) is a questionable and rather unfunny attempt at humour, and often I felt like the movie treated him as a secondary character with the focus on Spencer's revenge plot. On the positive side, Lalo Schifrin returns to compose, opening up San Fran's night skyline with an upbeat theme that wouldn't feel out of place in a cheesy cop show from the era.
While it almost feels like they had originally written a rape-revenge flick and written in Harry as an after thought to tie it into the franchise, it's an enjoyable if not very dark and ugly-natured entry that has enough Eastwood action to warrant a viewing. I can understand why many would dislike it as I even had my own issues with it.
For me personally however, it was an improvement over The Enforcer, but still no Dirty Harry or even Magnum Force.