Imagine The Harder They Come without the sublime pulse of Jimmy Cliff’s music, and it might look something like Third World Cop, a low-budget crime drama that has become the all-time top-grossing movie in Jamaica. Shot on digital video, in the tin-roof ghettos of Kingston, the movie, despite a few token reggae tunes, lacks the music’s sun-drenched sensuality, and its vibrant outlaw-freedom-fighter mythology, too. Like the earlier film, though, this one feels like a bulletin from the Caribbean underground. The new message: Accents aside, Jamaica is now an indistinguishable part of the global trash-movie culture.
In his black beret and silver shades, Capone (Paul Campbell), a tropical Dirty Harry, attempts to pull the plug on a local gunrunner. What he doesn’t know is that his old friend (Mark Danvers) has joined the crooks. For a while, the freshness of the setting camouflages the cliches, but Third World Cop ends up about as exotic as a straight-to-cable potboiler. C