The film is a Western revenge tale that tells a fictional story based on real characters from history – focusing on some of the many Black figures from the Old West who have often been neglected by mainstream cinema.
Samuel assembled a star-studded ensemble in The Harder They Fall cast to bring his story to life, with Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield all in major roles, while the film is also notable for its brilliant use of music – with Jay-Z having contributed some original tracks.
If you've watched the film and have a few questions about its final moments then read on to have The Harder They Fall ending explained.
The Harder They Fall ending explained
The bulk of the film follows a revenge mission by Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), who is determined to get back at Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) – an outlaw who killed his parents and has recently escaped from his life sentence.
On leaving prison, Rufus and his gang take up residence at Redwood City, where they overrule the sheriff and set up a base. As they attempt to make money, they eventually take Nat's lover Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz) hostage – and demand that Nat rob a bank to pay for her freedom.
Nat doesn't have much luck in robbing a bank, but he does find an unlikely ally in former Sherrif Wiley (Deon Cole) who arms his gang in a bid to help them in their fight against Rufus.
Nat and his gang attack and a major battle breaks out – with several members of each gang engaging in one-on-one fights. In the melee, Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield) kills Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler) and Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), Rufus kills Wiley, Cuffee (Danielle Deadwyler) kills Cherokee Bill and Stagecoach Mary gets the better of Trudy Smith (Regina King) before Nat is finally able to confront Rufus.
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At this point, a major revelation comes to light: Rufus reveals that Nat is his half-brother, and that he had killed their father because he had been abusive to his mother. Rufus has no interest in killing Nat, but in a very emotional state Nat shoots Rufus – his revenge mission now complete.
At the end of the film, Nat fakes his own death such that he can leave the town and live a free life with Stagecoach Mary – having been afforded the Marshal's blessing. Then, in the final shot, we see Trudy Smith, who had narrowly escaped with her life in the fight, watching Nat and Mary ride into the distance. The suggestion is that she might now plan revenge of her own – not letting them get away as easily as they had hoped...