Film / The Sidehackers

The Sidehackers (aka Five The Hard Way) is a 1969 Exploitation Film which follows the attempts of a garage mechanic and amateur motorcycle racer to avenge the rape and murder of his girlfriend.

The trouble starts when one JC and his gang bring their motorcycles to be repaired by the film's hero, Rommel. The topic of conversation turns to "sidehacking", which is basically a motorcycle race with sidecars (ostensibly for balance while turning). Rommel invites them all to his ranch to see a demonstration of this sidehacking; and JC gets totally into it, desiring to form a partership of sorts. Rommel, for reasons unspecified, is not too keen on this idea, and JC gives us a first glimpse at his hair-trigger temper (further developed in a later scene in which JC beats up his girlfriend Paisley).

Paisley, smitten with Rommel, goes to him and flirts, apparently hoping he will whisk her away from JC. Too bad for her, Rommel is faithful to his own girlfriend Rita, and rebuffs Paisley rather harshly. Enraged, Paisley goes back to JC and claims Rommel raped her. However, JC takes his vengeance to the extreme — he goes and beats up Rommel, sure, but then he rapes and murders Rita, right in front of the helpless Rommel.

The police seem unable to locate JC; so Rommel, with nothing left to live for, sells all his worldly possessions in order to hire a gang to go exact his own revenge. He gets help from an unexpected source; a couple of JC's henchmen, Gooch and Nero, defect to Rommel's side. Except Gooch is The Mole and is secretly reporting Rommel's moves to JC. Ah, but Rommel is aware of Gooch's secret, and so this plot point... ultimately goes nowhere. In the meantime, JC gets bad vibes about Paisley's rape story and strangles her in a jealous fit.

It all leads to a final showdown in an old rock quarry, with the two gangs essentially wiping each other out and leaving JC and Rommel to have a climactic one-on-one. Rommel narrowly defeats his nemesis; but just as the police are finally arriving to arrest JC, JC shoots Rommel dead.

Can't you feel the joy of life just OOZING through your veins right now???

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page. The original uncut film can be seen starting here.

The Sidehackers contains examples of:

  • My God, What Have I Done?: Paisley comes to regret lying about Rommel, saying she doesn't know who she hates more, JC or herself. She tells JC she wants to get away from him, which throws JC into a rage and he strangles her, pushing him off the slippery slope.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The titular sidehacking competition largely occurs off-camera, focusing instead on the in-universe audience's unimpressive reactions.
  • Police Are Useless: They can't seem to find JC after the murder, even though he's hiding in a local rock quarry.
    • Even worse, he was hiding in his hotel for ten days before moving to the rock quarry.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: JC. That bit where he starts yelling at Nero, the sound goes out and the MST3K crew yells at him to shut up? Yeah, it's just what you're thinking.
    • Plus, he's a misogynist who beats, rapes & kills women.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: JC
  • Rape as Drama:
    • Invoked in-story, when Paisley falsely cries "rape" in order to incite JC against Rommel.
    • Rita's murder.
  • Revenge drives most of the film, either one way or the other.
  • Rule of Symbolism: So screwed up only the makers of this film could possibly explain the symbolism of a racist, misogynistic Jesus Christ.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After gunning down JC's gang, Nero and Crapout head for the hills and end up being the only characters who survive.
  • Strength Equals Worthiness: How Rommel recruits bodybuilder "Big Jake" to his gang - kinda.
  • Technical Pacifist: Rommel won't allow his Vengeance Gang to use guns, even though he knows JC's men will. His gang feels differently.
  • Third-Person Person:
    Big Jake: (after Rommel hits him) He hit Big Jake!
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Gooch, did you really think anyone would believe you were shitting in the bushes for over an hour?
    • Rommel tells his men "no guns" when they start the assault on JC's lair, even though every single one of JC's goons are packing heat.
  • Together in Death: Rommel and Rita...ev-evidently? What was that?
  • Token Minority: Nero.
  • Word Salad Title: Five The Hard Way. Ostensibly a reference to dice-rolling ("the hard way" refers to rolling doubles, which of course cannot add up to an odd total), but this does not play into the film in any manner except for the song that plays at the beginning... which also does not relate to the film in any way other than being there.