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Who's the cat who won't cop out when there's danger all about? Private detective John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) is called in when the daughter of Harlem gangster Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn) is kidnapped. Forced to go undercover as a member of the mob, Shaft finds an ally in black militant Ben Buford (Christopher St John), but soon finds himself becoming embroiled in gang warfare, clashes with the Mafia and encounters with a variety of beautiful women. Kicking off the Seventies blaxploitation trend, 'Shaft' was followed by two sequels and a 2000 remake.
The original and hippest version of Shaft cruised onto cinema screens in 1971. John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) is an African-American private eye who has a rocky relationship with cops, an even rockier one with Harlem gangsters, and a healthy sex life. The script finds Shaft tracking down the kidnapped daughter of a black mobster, but the pleasure of the film is the sum of its attitude, Roundtree's uncompromising performance, and the thrilling, Oscar-winning score by Isaac Hayes. Director Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree) seems fond of certain detective genre clichés (e.g., the hero walking into his low-rent office and finding a hood waiting to talk with him), but he and Roundtree make those moments their own. Shaft produced a couple of sequels, a follow-up television series, and a remake starring Samuel L. Jackson, but none had the impact this movie did. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com
Shaft's Big Score is the first sequel to the super-hip 1971 original. When a pal of detective John Shaft is murdered in a bombing, New York's coolest private eye finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle between black and white gangsters over the numbers racket in Queens. Directed by Gordon Parks (who does a brief cameo as a croupier in an illegal casino) and written by Ernest Tidyman (both of whom made the original Shaft), this film lacks the pacing of its progenitor. Roundtree is at his best when he's questioning a woman he's just met about a suspect while at the same time beguiling her into the sack (ah, those lazy, crazy days of the sexual revolution). The finale--a shootout in a cemetery, followed by a car-boat-helicopter chase through Queens and up the Harlem River--is preposterously drawn-out: Shaft, impervious to machine-gun fire, winds up tripping, spraining his ankle, and limping while running from the chopper; two shots later, he's sprinting like a halfback. Look for late Muhammad Ali trainer Drew Bundini Brown as a wise-cracking mobster. --Marshall Fine, Amazon.com
Shaft in Africa, the second sequel to the original hit, foreshadows itself early on when Shaft, asked to go undercover in Africa to halt a modern-day slave trade, claims that he's not James Bond but strictly Sam Spade. Bond, however, is the operative model here, with John Shaft masquerading as an Ethiopian to infiltrate the slave business and bring it down. Yet everyone he encounters seems to know who he is and wants to kill him--but the string of dead bodies he leaves in his wake across two continents proves that no one is able to stop everyone's favourite hip private eye. Written by Stirling Silliphant, the film is long on action set pieces that are filmed with more energy than the previous movie, Shaft's Big Score. Given contemporary practices involving smugglers of illegal Chinese and Mexican immigrants, the plot isn't all that far-fetched. Roundtree, as usual, is the picture of unflappable cool--but don't get him mad. --Marshall Fine, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Even though "Shaft" was an MGM release it was clearly intended for the black audience Hollywood had always ignored. The attitude of Shaft is what set it apart - it made no effort to court the white audience at all. John Shaft kept his mouth shut for nobody, and wasn't interested in carrying a civics lesson or being an ambassador from an alien race. He was openly promiscuous, keeping at least a couple of steady women on his string, and taking in the occasional admiring prostitute. He talked dirty, told white cops where to get off, pushed around the toughest of the black mobsters, and made mincemeat of adversaries both black and white. A year before "The Godfather," the Mafia of Shaft consisted of fairly accurate Italian goombah types; Shaft had no trouble letting loose with the ethnic slurs either. In other words, "Shaft" was a fresh dose of reality, in 70s parlance, 'telling it like it is.' This script showed no influence of studio influence, whatsoever.
Shaft has a good New York look. The overall atmosphere is great, a mixture of dingy, claustrophobic hotel rooms and neglected city streets. A lot of the action appears to take place around Times Square, which was quite a different place in 1970 - much rougher, much more rundown. Shaft must hold the record for the number of movie marquees on view in one film; I'd guess it was filmed in late Summer-Early fall with what's playing in downtown Manhattan. Roundtree fills out the role believably while the surrounding cast work well together, even if the stereotype line is occasionally breached. Several nice moments in the script carry the film over its dull passages, all leading up to a great ending.
1. A black man is shown as desirable and able to pull women.
2. A black man is clever and able to outwit the opposition.
3. A black man is a winner.
This was bound to be controversial.....
Almost without exception Hollywood depicts black males as a joke. Here we have a film with depth and feeling and the central character is strong and to be admired. So, to combat this the word `blacksploitation` was invented and the film derided and sneered at.
I love the scene between Shaft and the Police oficer, the officer holds a black pen against Shaft's face and says "You aint so black", Shaft holds a white mug again the officer's face and replies "You aint so white".
A great film with a lot of wit and a good story line, buy it and enjoy! (And don't bother with the remake.)
First off the transfer is an improvement on the original and things are far more clear than before, not perfect, but still an improvement. As far as the extras go it's what was on the DVD with an added bonus of one of the Shaft TV movies included. It's a rather annoying 4:3 aspect, but I've wanted to watch one of these for a long time (all 7 are now available as a DVD box set). Curiosity solved and while the TV movie is like Shaft Lite I still enjoyed it and will invest in the box set.
Overall the Film, upgraded picture and introduction to the TV Series/Film bonus deserves 5 Stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Iconic movie track. Can it be never bettered. Strings, brass, this album made Movie music. A classic.Published 8 months ago by George Moore
Always liked Richard Roundtree for this Soul Character,Right on BrotherPublished 9 months ago by stephen powell
DVD was in great condition and delivered promptly, the movie itself however was possibly the biggest pile of trash it has ever been my displeasure to sit through. Read morePublished 12 months ago by T. Wilson