Film: Sudden Impact

"Go ahead, make my day."
Harry Callahan

Sudden Impact (1983) is the fourth film featuring Clint Eastwood as Detective "Dirty" Harry Callahan. Preceded by The Enforcer, followed by The Dead Pool.

After a number of high profile run-ins with people trying to kill him, Inspector Harry Callahan is sent to a small town to investigate the murder of a local man found dead in a car. More deaths occur, responsible for which is one Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke), who is out to avenge the gang-rape she and her sister were subjected to in the past.

This film has the examples of:

  • Amusement Park: The climax takes place in a closed amusement park, also known as the Santa Cruz pier.
  • Asshole Victim: Everyone Jennifer kills.
    • Threlkis as well, and his hitmen who go after Harry.
  • Batman Cold Open: The film opens with Harry running into a diner robbery.
  • Big Bad: The rapists were an ensemble, but Mick is clearly the one calling the shots.
  • Breast Attack: One woman was involved in the gang-rape - Jennifer shoots her in the breast.
  • California Doubling: Played with. San Francisco scenes were filmed on location, but the second half of the film, in the fictitious town of San Paulo, was actually filmed in Santa Cruz. For the record, that wooden roller coaster that Harry shoots Mick off of at the end is the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
  • Captain Ersatz: Captain Briggs is essentially Captain McKay from The Enforcer especially given that they're played by the same actor. Why they didn't just reuse McKay is anybody's guess.
  • *Click* Hello: An armed man is sneaking up on Harry who is doing target practice, because of several threats on his life. As the man almost reaches him, Harry spins around, cocking the gun, then recognizing the man and saying "Horace!" (the man is Harry's partner).
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Mick is having rough sex with a woman, and hurting her, and enjoying that it hurts her, when the phone rings. He continues to have painful (to her) sex with this woman, while on the phone, after answering the phone with an obscene response.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted in the film's climax, if only to show off how powerful Harry's Auto Mag is. When Mick's two buddies take cover, Harry shoots through the signs and barrels they hide behind, killing them.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film when compared to the other Dirty Harry films, due to its rape theme as well as being considered the darkest, dirtiest, and most violent of the series.
  • Deception Noncompliance: The diner Harry Callahan goes into is being robbed, and the robbers force everybody to act normally while Callahan is there. Callahan has been getting coffee there for ten years and never has sugar, but this time, the waitress adds a ton of it. The robbers don't see anything unusual, but Callahan goes straight back in after his first sip.
  • Description Porn: Harry on the AMC Auto Mag:
    "Well, this is the .44 Magnum Auto Mag and it holds a 300 grain cartridge. And if properly used, it can remove the fingerprints."
    • It's not entirely clear what 'proper' technique could result in a suspect losing all of his fingers and both his thumbs, particularly considering the weapon only holds a maximum of 8+1 rounds, but no doubt Clint would find a way...
    • It's a Call Back to the first film. Harry is implying that a single shot from the Auto Mag would completely destroy someone's hand.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Ray, the one female conspirator in the gang rape of Jennifer and her sister. She is known by all around San Paolo as a Butch Lesbian, but she makes a pass at Harry, putting her in this trope.
  • Disney Villain Death: Mick, who gets shot by Harry several times with his .44 Auto Mag, sending the rapist falling off the roller coaster through a glass roof of a merry-go-round, where he is impaled on carved unicorn horn.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: One is heard in every scene which has Harry brandishing his gun.
  • Evil Laugh: Ray and the entire bar she's in after Harry tells them how Wilburn died.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Harry's partner Horace calls him a "jamf" twice before Harry asks him "What the hell's a 'jamf'?" Horace replies: "That means you're a Jive-Ass Mother--" "Forget I asked!"
  • Gender Flip: Meathead suddenly becomes a female dog in the scene where he/she alerts Harry to an intruder.
  • Groin Attack: When Jennifer Spencer goes on her vendetta against the people who raped her and her sister, she shoots the rapists she tracks down in the groin before shooting them dead.
  • Hand Cannon: Harry's .44 AutoMag because Caliber Size Marches On.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: The novelization of the film mentions that Harry received his unusual .44 Automag pistol as a gift from a custom gunsmith after he had saved the man's wife... probably by killing those endangering her, knowing Harry. It's suggested that he is often offered free stuff, because the text states that the pistol is the only such gift he ever accepted.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of the rapists gets a deliciously ironic comeuppance when he gets penetrated, by falling off the roof of the building and landing on the horn of a merry-go-round unicorn.
  • Kick the Dog: A literal example-Mick and Kruger's brothers-in-law injure Harry's dog after killing his buddy Horace. It's unclear exactly what they do to the dog, but we see the poor thing limping.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Due to this entry being Darker and Edgier, Mick is a more depraved and sadistic threat then the previous Big Bads and the later one in the next film.
  • Let Off by the Detective: At the climax of the story, one of Jennifer's would-be victims holds her hostage with her own gun and Harry kills the man to save her. When the police show up to investigate, Harry shows them the gun in the man's hand and convinces them that he was responsible for all the killings.
  • Meet Cute: Cited in the commentary when Harry and Jennifer meet for the first time
  • Molotov Cocktail: Harry is being pursued by armed thugs. At one point they throw a molotov into his car, but he manages to throw it back at them.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Harry engages in a melee with Mick, Eddie, and Carl after he is ambushed by the three rapists, with Harry getting beaten and thrown into the ocean along with his .44 Magnum.
  • Off on a Technicality: One perp is shown getting off easy, and later rubs it on Harry's face.
  • Oh Crap!: When the man that raped Jennifer Spencer and his friends are about to repeat the "experience" when one of them says "Crap". Cue Harry Callahan with a Hand Cannon, ready for the men to make his day.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: When Harry gets his usual morning coffee, the café is being robbed. Everyone is being forced to act naturally, but the waitress (knowing Harry's usual is "no sugar, no milk") adds lots of sugar. Harry, distracted by some case work he's going over, just pays and leaves with the cup. Outside, he takes a sip, spits it out and turns back to the diner.... then notices "patrons" locking the doors and turning the "Open/Closed" signs around, figures out what's up, and goes around to come in through the back.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner
    Harry Callahan: We're not gonna let you walk outta here.
    Crook: Who's "we", suckah!?!
    Harry Callahan: (reaching for his gun) Smith, Wesson... and me.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Jennifer smashes the mirror resembling the image she painted of herself.
  • Rape and Revenge: Forms the plot of the flm.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: Jennifer's sister went catatonic when the two of them were gang-raped.
  • Rasputinian Death: Mick is first shot several times by Harry while on the Giant Dipper's catwalk, stumbles backwards through the railing, falls several stories, crashes through the roof of the moving carousel and is impaled on a unicorn.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Harry gets sent to the main location after he kills a bunch of mobsters in self-defense.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: This trope describes Jennifer Spencer-she's picking off the guys who raped her and her sister a long time ago, one at a time until she gets taken hostage by the few gang members who she has not targeted yet, but they get dispatched by Harry. When her revolver is found on the leader's body, Harry even lets Jennifer off the hook by pinning the murders on the rapist.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Higher-ups try to do this to Harry after his harassment of an old mobster at his daughter's wedding results in a heart attack and they order him to take a vacation. While on vacation some punks try to take him down with a molotov cocktail and he forces them off a pier to their deaths. They end his vacation, but send him out of town on another case.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Harry. But she started it.
  • You Look Familiar: Instead of appearing as a mook, Albert Popwell now plays a policeman.