Sudden Impact

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Sudden Impact Movie Poster Image
'80s cop-drama sequel has rape, murder, revenge.
  • R
  • 1983
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"Everyone wants results but nobody wants to do what it takes to get it done." "Revenge is the oldest motivation known to man."

Positive Role Models & Representations

A woman and her sister were gang-raped, and now a decade later she's killing the rapists one by one. Of several men and a woman involved in a gang rape, only one seemed ashamed and repentant. Investigating the murders, Harry finds the killer and sympathizes with her. A father covers up the rape to save his rapist son from prosecution.


A violent gang rape is shown. The emphasis is on the violence rather than the sex and no body parts are shown. Victims are punched and terrorized. A woman shoots men who raped her at close range, first in the genitals and then in the head. Bloody gunshot wounds are shown. A violent rapist and killer is chased by police until he falls and is impaled on the horn of a carousel unicorn. A dog pees indoors and passes gas.


 A topless woman climbs in bed with a shirtless man. Two people kiss in a car in the dark. A woman climbs on a sleeping, shirtless man and starts to kiss him. He wakes up and throws her off. A woman invites Harry in to have sex. In the next shot, he leaves her bed in the middle of the night.


"F--k," "s--t," "punk," "puke," "ass," "bastards," "queer," "dyke," "shag his ass," "twat," "prick," "slut," "Sambo."


Michelob, Coors, and Budweiser beers are displayed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine and beer. Rapists later report they were drunk during a gang rape. Adults smoke cigarettes and marijuana.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sudden Impact is a 1983 Dirty Harry sequel. Criminals and their wrongdoing are depicted as vile, psychopathic, and sordid in the extreme, perhaps to justify Inspector Harry Callahan's eye-for-an-eye style of police work as well as the rights of victims to violently retaliate against those vile and sordid acts. A group responsible for a gang rape a decade back have all gone free, and as a victim goes on a revenge killing spree, Harry sides with the victim. Viewers will tend to go right along. Rape, point-blank gun executions, fistfights, car crashes, bombings, and bullet and knife wounds are all seen. A topless woman climbs in bed with a shirtless man. A woman invites Harry in to have sex. In the next shot, he leaves her bed in the middle of the night. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," "ass," "queer," and "prick."  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPhillyD August 25, 2018

Decent but brutal cop thriller

This is not a great film by all means but it is fairly good and entertaining. This film is probably the most violent Dirty Harry film in the entire trilogy. The... Continue reading

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What's the story?

"Go ahead, make my day" -- Inspector Callahan's (Clint Eastwood) famous alert to criminals he would be happy to shoot -- is uttered twice in SUDDEN IMPACT. Without any such warning, a gang rape victim (Sondra Locke) is gunning down her attackers right in the private parts, which starts making Harry's warning seem downright neighborly in comparison. As Harry investigates each individual murder, he starts making the connections that lead to the woman. Harry often bitterly complains that the justice system allows criminals too many constitutional protections, but he does tend to arrest criminals (if they survive his pursuit) and let judges and juries do the rest. The revenge-seeking vigilante knows no such restraint.

Is it any good?

What Sudden Impact does well is lay out a balance system that offers heinous crime on one side and satisfying retribution on the other. The audience can't help but root for the woman shooting rapists in cold blood. The movie whips viewers into a supportive frenzy as she eradicates the conscience-free scum who have evaded the justice system with the help of a corrupt police department. You go, girl!

But when the satisfaction subsides, our own consciences must ask: "Do we really want private citizens playing executioner? Is murdering a bad guy still murder? Does it deserve punishment? If not, what kind of society can we expect to live in?" As Clint Eastwood plays him, Harry is a man who sees the world in black and white. Do we want a little gray thrown in? Best for older teens who can handle the mature content and moral questions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie persuades viewers to root for a murderer seeking revenge for unpunished wrongs done to her and her sister years before. Do you think it's ever OK to take justice into your own hands?

  • Why do you think it feels good to see the bad guys get what they "deserve"? Does the movie think that the woman seeking vengeance should not be punished? Why, or why not?

  • How does this sequel compare to other Dirty Harry movies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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