Hard Times is an action movie set in New Orleans. Chaney (Charles Bronson) is somewhat of a drifter, he arrives in New Orleans during the Great Depression with nothing in his pocket. He meets Speed Weed (James Coburn) an illegal bare-knuckle fight organizer. Speed, against his own instincts, gets Chaney a fight with a local tough guy. Chaney knocks out his opponent with one punch and quickly makes a name for himself and Speed becomes his manager, but Speed does his best to ruin it. Speed gets involved in a dice game and soon loses his cut of Chaney's winnings and more besides, to a mobster, Gandil (Michael McGuire), Gandil offers Speed a way out, offering to level his debt if Chaney agrees to fight on Gandil's behalf. Speed agrees but Chaney refuses, Gandil can't let it rest and sets in motion a plan to set up a fight that's a life or death matter for Speed.