These Jamaican movies showcase a wide range of themes and genres, from comedy to crime thrillers and beyond. The Jamaican people are warm and friendly, the rum is strong, and the music will be stuck in your head long after you’ve left. If you want to get a taste of what it means to be Jamaican, then you should watch these Jamaican movies.
Many people don’t realize that Jamaica is home to one of the largest movie industries in the Caribbean, second only to Trinidad. From the 1960s up until today, Jamaican filmmakers have been producing award-winning Jamaican movies that have dealt with a wide variety of topics. If you’re interested in getting a taste of Jamaican culture and history through movies, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here we have listed 10 Jamaican movies you must watch.
- Dancehall Queen
- Better Mus’ Come (2011)
- The Harder They Come (1972)
- Third World Cop (1999)
- Ghett’a Life (2011)
- Rude Boy (2003)
- Kingston Paradise (2013)
- Jamaican Mafia (2015)
- Made In New York (2018)
1. Dancehall Queen
An action-packed story of an impoverished Caribbean girl, pic should also travel the festival road as a rare sampling from Jamaica. Its narrative is that of a contemporary Cinderella, except there is no Prince Charming.
This Jamaican movie is a moving, emotionally engaging drama with a captivating performance by Audrey Reid. The most distinctive thing about the film is its soundtrack. The score for this Jamaican movie is performed by a collection of Jamaican dancehall stars, including Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Lady Shaw, Junior Demus, and Sanchez. The colorful costumes and elaborate hairstyles add a lot of flair to the proceedings.
Where to watch Dancehall Queen
- Amazon Prime
The movie “Countryman” is one of the best-known Jamaican movies from the early 1980s.
When a young American couple crashed their plane into the mangrove swamps off the coast of Jamaica, a local fisherman named Countryman came to the rescue and saved them from a hungry alligator. He brought them supplies of fresh fruit and marijuana, nursing them back to health in his cave hideaway.
Countryman can run fast, jump high, and fight with an impressive kung-fu skills. All of his abilities are derived from living a righteous life, in harmony with nature.
Chris Blackwell’s Island Pictures released Countryman, the movie which was written by Dickie Jobson.
- Country: Jamaica Music by: Wally Badarou
- Distributed by: Island
- Starring: Countryman (aka Edwin Lothan)
Where to watch Countryman
3. Better Mus’ Come (2011)
Set in Jamaica’s turbulent 1970s, ‘Better Mus’ Come’ is the story of a former inmate haunted by the tragic death of his pregnant wife and paralyzed by conflicted feelings of guilt.
Ricky and Kamala meet, and what starts out as an antagonistic exchange quickly turns into a burning passion.
4. The Harder They Come (1972)
The Harder They Come is a 1971 Jamaican movie about the life of Jamaica’s most iconic cultural icon, Jimmy Cliff. The film was produced by Harry Robinson and directed by Perry Henzell. Ivanhoe Martin (played by Cliff) attempts to gain legitimate employment but finds there are very few opportunities open to him. Undeterred, he pursues his dream of becoming a reggae musician.
Ivan decides to take decisive action against the gang because he realizes that it is every bit as corrupt and exploitative as the music industry. He becomes aware that a life of crime is a much quicker way for him to attain wealth, fame, and admiration.
5. Third World Cop (1999)
Third World Cop , a critically acclaimed Jamaican film, tells the story of two old friends who are forced to face the consequences of their past choices when they find themselves on opposite sides of the law.
Capone is a crime-fighting hero who often runs into trouble with his superiors due to his unconventional methods. When Capone returns to an area of Kingston he knows very well, he discovers that an old friend, Ratty, is doing business with the gangsters he is fighting.
6. Ghett’a Life (2011)
The film “Ghett’a Life” depicts a gritty, realistic portrait of life in one of the city’s ghettos. The film follows the story of Derrick, a boxer who lives in a troubled community. His father is a political activist and preaches the benefits of supporting his party to his constituency.
Unfortunately for Derrick, there is a political divide between his neighborhood and the neighboring area controlled by the gangster “Ratchet,” who has an allegiance to the rival political party.
This time Derrick decides to try out for the boxing team. The coach warns him that he had better not cross the line, but the coach nevertheless takes him under his wing and trains him with dedication and enthusiasm. Derrick doesn’t win over everyone’s approval, but his determination and hard work take him far.
7. Rude Boy (2003)
Julius wants to go to L.A. to pursue a music career. He’s desperate for a chance to do so, so he agrees to become a drug mule and courier for a Jamaican crime lord in exchange for a passport and visa.
But what begins as a single deal spirals into a deadly saga filled with murder, betrayal and lust that Julius cannot escape — and he must kill to survive.
8. Kingston Paradise (2013)
Kingston Paradise is a 2013 Jamaican feature-length film written and directed by Mary Wells. It is a story about the search for love and how it can be found in the most unlikely of places.
This film won the Audience Award for Best Feature at both the CaribbeanTales Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival in 2014.
The plot rattles along at a good pace, and there is an inevitable sense of growing chaos. There is also everyday corruption, slipping and sliding through it all. “Street law rules every time,” says the street vendor who sells outside Faris’ shop. They are both “businessmen” and they both follow the street law, he asserts.
9. Jamaican Mafia (2015)
Zoolian Anderson is a streetwise hustler who desperately wants to be the next big thing. He soon discovers that he has a famous legacy in his family, and when he quits his corporate job to pursue a life of crime, it’s the beginning of a dangerous new chapter in his life.
10. Made In New York (2018)
This is a movie about Jamaicans living in New York trying to make it. Drugs, music – anything that helps you succeed. Whatever it takes to be made in New York.
From Harry Belafonte to Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley to Usain Bolt, this Caribbean paradise has a long and rich history of producing world-class artists and now Movie stars
- Third World Cop (1999) R | 98 min | Action, Drama, Thriller.
- The Harder They Come (1972) R | 120 min | Crime, Drama, Music.
- Smile Orange (1976) PG | 86 min | Comedy, Drama.
- Shottas (2002) R | 95 min | Action, Crime, Drama.
- Dancehall Queen (1997) Not Rated | 98 min | Drama.
- One Love (2003)
- Rockers (1978) 100 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
- The Lunatic (1991) R | 93 min | Comedy
- The Mighty Quinn (1989) R | 98 min | Action, Crime, Drama
- Better Mus’ Come (2010) 104 min | Action, Crime, Drama
Jamaican movies are a rare find on American movie streaming sites like Netflix. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch these classic gems, we hope that the above list provided you with a starting point.
If you are also looking to watch Caribbean movies and tv shows check out our recommended list