Is ‘John Henry’ on Netflix Based on a True Story?

The 2020 movie John Henry didn’t make waves when it released in theaters in January. Directed by Will Forbes, and starring Terry Crews, the film didn’t get much from critics. In fact, it got zero love—currently, John Henry boasts a zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregation website.

Thankfully, Netflix swooped in to save the day. After being recently added to the streaming service, this crime thriller shot to the top of Netflix’s trending charts and currently sits at No. 2 on Netflix’s Top 10 trending titles list. Netflix subscribers don’t care about reviews right now! We’re in quarantine! Content is content!

The John Henry plot finds an ex-gang member named John Henry (Crews) protecting a Honduran woman named Berta (Jamila Velazquez) from his former crew. The gang is led by the infamous Hell (played by the rapper Ludacris), and, as we learn in a series of home video flashbacks from the ’90s, Henry has a history with Hell’s crew. It’s the kind of movie that might leave you with the lingering sense that there’s some historical truth to it, despite the fact that there’s no title card informing viewers it’s “based on a true story.” But is John Henry on Netflix based on a true story?

Is John Henry based on a true story?

No. Despite the fact that the film, and the character played by Terry Crews, are named after the folk hero John Henry, the 2020 movie John Henry is not based on a true story. The plot is all made up by director Will Forbes and his co-writer Doug Skinner. There are only a few allusions in John Henry to the folklore hero John Henry, like the fact that Crews is strong and prefers a hammer as his weapon of choice, and a few songs in the John Henry soundtrack.

What is the story of John Henry, the folklore hero?

John Henry the folk legend was said to be a “steel-driving man,” a.k.a., a man whose job was to hammer a steel drill into rock in order to make new tunnels for the railroad after the Civil War. The legend goes that Henry was so strong and so efficient, that when he raced against a new steam-powered drilling machine to build a tunnel, he won—only to die as soon as he was victorious because his heart gave out.

Historians to this day debate the accuracy of this tale, and several locations across America have claimed to be the location where John Henry dug his tunnel and died. Whether or not the story is real, however, the tale of John Henry has been used as a symbol in the labor and Civil Rights movement. There are many songs about the folk hero—the traditional way of telling his story—including the classic folk song “John Henry,” which is used in the film, performed by Hunter Lamar.

Where can I find the John Henry soundtrack?

Speaking of songs, how about that John Henry soundtrack, am I right? The soundtrack is not available on Spotify or iTunes, currently. However, if you want to know the titles of songs that play in a movie, you can always watch the credits of said movie.

Here’s the track list of songs in the John Henry soundtrack, according to the film’s credits:

  • “Johny Henry (American Folk),” performed by Hunter Lamar
  • “Same Old Shit,” written and performed by DJ Quik and Julian “Oktane” Brown, featuring Jamila Velaquez
  • “Central Ave,” written and performed by DJ Quik and Problem, featuring MC Eiht
  • “Hyperspace Instrumental,” written and performed by DJ Quik
  • “Maria y El Viento,” written and performed by Carlos Morales and Maria Vertiz
  • “Checking For You,” written and performed by DJ Quik
  • “Straight to the City,” written and performed by DJ Quik and Problem
  • “Welcome to Hell,” written by Nicholas Ditri and Maestro Harrell, performed by Maestro
  • “Yuh,” written by Hunter Lamar and Brett White, performed by Hunter Lamar

Happy listening!

Watch John Henry (2020) on Netflix

Original Post