Tougher Than Leather (film)

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Tougher Than Leather
Tougher Than Leather (film).jpg
Directed by Rick Rubin
Produced by Vincent Giordano
Written by Screenplay:
Ric Menello
Rick Rubin
Music by Run–D.M.C.
Beastie Boys
New Line Cinema
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • September 16, 1988 (1988-09-16) (NYC)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,546,846

Tougher Than Leather is an American film released in 1988 and distributed by New Line Cinema. The film was directed by Rick Rubin and stars the hip-hop group Run–D.M.C. They created the movie to coincide with the release of their fourth studio album also titled Tougher Than Leather.


At the beginning of the film, D.M.C. is released from jail, at which time he returns to New York City with his band-mates, Run and Jam Master Jay. They are ready to schedule some gigs and kick-start their musical careers when things take a dark turn. Their friend Runny Ray, played by Raymond White, has been murdered by Vic Ferrante (Rick Rubin); this pulls the group into a seedy world of crime and violence. Vic and the police cover up the murder to look like Ray died from drugs, As they attempt to determine who is responsible for the murder, their own lives become endangered. They take matters into their own hands trying to find Ray's killer. However, the action is balanced with a series of musical performances by the stars and other late '80's hip-hop stars including Slick Rick and Beastie Boys.


Critical Reaction[edit]

While the music usually garners a favorable response, critics generally panned the film. According to The Washington Post, the film is "vile, vicious, despicable, stupid, sexist, racist and horrendously made." [1] This review is typical as the film has been referred to more recently as "poorly executed and exploitative fare." [2]

It was briefly available on VHS but went out of print within two years due to poor sales and a rumored injunction by the Beastie Boys and Capitol Records, their new label. For this reason, it is almost certain that New Line will never release it on DVD.

Connections to Blaxploitation[edit]

In response to the negative reactions to the film, critics like Randall Clark have pointed out the many connections between the movie and the history of the "Blaxploitation" genre. Much like earlier films such as Shaft and Black Samson, the plot features inner-city anti-heroes who need to take the law into their own hands as they have been neglected by the more traditional avenues of justice.[3]


  1. ^ Harrington, Richard "Tougher Than Leather (R)" - 17 September 1988 - The Washington Post
  2. ^ Videohound. Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever. Jim Craddock, Ed. Detroit, New York, San Francisco, New Haven, Waterville, and London: Gale Gengage Learning (2009), 1021. Paperback ISBN 1-4144-2218-0.
  3. ^ Clark, Randall. At a Drive-In Near You. London: Routledge (1992), 162. Paperback ISBN 0-8153-1951-7

External links[edit]