[REVIEW] Magnum Force (1973): Hollywood’s First Great Sequel – ManlyMovie

[REVIEW] Magnum Force (1973): Hollywood’s First Great Sequel

Runtime: 126 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: The best Dirty Harry movie, better than the first too

When people start talking about sequels, they say the first real sequel was The Godfather II (1974), not only a good sequel, but better than the first Godfather.  But they’re wrong, the first real sequel is Magnum Force (1973), better than the first Dirty Harry.  The original Dirty Harry gets credit for being the best of the series, but as good as it is, this is actually better and doesn’t really get credit for that. This is a film from a time when a sequel got made if it deserved to be made rather than if it was a sure fire financial hit.  Even good scripts got rejected, but this one was too good to pass up.  The first had Eastwood stick his finger up to cookie-cutter Hollywood and introduced a ‘grey area’ cop, but Magnum Force takes it a step further and introduces grey area villains.  It challenges you on whether or not you should like them.

The thing is, the premise for Magnum Force is better than the one in Dirty Harry.  The lone nut sniper is classic, but vigilante bike-cops is just downright cool, who thought of this?  The opening incident sets the tone:  After buying their way out of court and insulting one of the villains, a group of backhanding bureaucrats are turned into chaffed meat inside their own car on the side of the highway.  A women-beating pimp gets the same treatment – pulled over, shot in the neck then shot another four times in the chest.  I mean shit, are these the bad guys or people who need their own TV show?  In between the killing the ‘baddies’ are shown to be pretty cool guys.  Likeable and civilised.  This makes for a much more interesting villain than the original lone nut.

But as cool as the bad guys are, Eastwood is cooler.  And if I had to see anyone take these guys down, it would be him.  Questions are asked of the rogue cop that Eastwood plays, just how does a guy with little regard to rules see vigilante killers on his own force?  The answer comes when Eastwood puts a bullet in a wooden cop at the gun range, giving the signal that someone is gonna get some ‘dirty’ justice.  And when Clint gets goin’, the Police Chief is accusing him of ‘starting full scale military operations’.  “Everytime you pull out that gun my paperwork backs up three goddamned months!”  This sequel is two parts excellent thriller, one part classic action.  Was there a motorbike chase as thrilling as that before this movie?  Eastwood kills the villains in individual style too.  Ramming a bike head on at full speed? Casually karate chopping a man to death in the gullet?  It could only be Clint.

An underrated movie and an even more overlooked sequel.  One of the funny things about this is, by the end of this movie Eastwood has killed more than the bad guys!



  1. Lucas Accardo

    December 30, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Just of the top of my head i can think of Bride of Frankenstein as a previous sequel movie to Magnum Force, but maybe i’m missing what you strictly mean by “sequel”

  2. Serbius

    February 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Good article. I totally agree with you, n that Magnum Force is a great sequel to Dirty Harry. Clint is the master of cool.

  3. New_Rodro

    February 11, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Better than Siegel’s Dirty Harry? Sorry, but i don’t bought that 🙁

    In my ranking of the franchise Magnum Force shares number two with Sudden Impact.

  4. Mainline DnB

    February 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Always felt the same way, prefer this film to the original for a number of reasons. Stronger villains that you can’t quite just outright hate, because a part of you agrees with what they’re doing. Plus the fact there are so many of them, instead of a straight one-on-one. Don’t get me wrong, i absolutely adore the first film but this one edges it for me in terms of story.

  5. CyrusTheVirus85

    February 11, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    The karate chop to the neck LOL so manly

    • Mucho Macho

      February 11, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Better than Ny-Quil
      Once delivered you were out for hours!

  6. Mucho Macho

    February 11, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    1)My dad always loved the line :
    “All our heroes are dead” from the film delivered by one of the cops. My father used to say”That’s how i feel”
    I always expected him to become a vigilante,hehe
    2)Kinda wanted as a kid for the cops & Dirty Harry to join forces. I envisioned them recruting Charles Bronson afterwards, & then have them destroy thugs,crooks,criminals & pissants all over the country.
    3)I love all 5 Dirty Harry movies
    This 1 is a standout for sure.
    4) Love Clint Eastwood.

  7. The Predator Fan

    February 12, 2015 at 1:59 am

    Man’s got to know his limitations!