, Vanessa L. Williams, Jeffrey Wright,
In 1971, I saw my first "blaxploitation" film and
became instantly hooked. What these films did was open the way for a slew
of action filled, violent, urban warfare that was the center stage of the
neighborhood I grew up in. To see it glorified on a big screen was a huge
slap in the face to politicians, law enforcement and most white people. Not
that any of these films were worthy of any "Oscars". They were terribly
written, the dialogue was crap and the action left little to be desired.
But those pimp costumes and cars had me screaming in hysterics. "Diamond
in the back, sun roof top, diggin' the scene with a gangsta gleam..."
Shaft, in 1971 was a bad mutha. But really, he was nothing, compared to
Shaft in 2000!
Still the Man...
"He sounds like the
Chef!", my daughter whispered to me as the opening credits started with the
original soundtrack song sung by Isaac Hayes. I rolled my eyes, 'cause she
had no idea that "the chef" had a career long before he was animated on
South Park. Jackson looks
ten feet tall as he strides around New York in his long black leather coat.
A frustrated cop on the edge of quitting and/or being fired and/or being
transferred from precinct to precinct for attitude problems with his
superiors - Samuel L. Jackson is Shaft. He just bursts with
attitude from every single angle - from the way he dresses, to his superb
triple goatee, to his razor-sharp wit and his passion for justice, which
can go to extremes, much to the dismay of his co-workers and supervisors.
He is now pitted against two of the most deliciously evil
nemeses. Bale - who first caught my attention in American
Psycho, and is a clear candidate for stereotyping if he's not careful - and
Jeffrey Wright, a character actor, who plays a gangster drug dealer with
family ties in the very Hispanic and war-torn South Bronx. Interaction
between all the characters is great, some excellent dialogue is exchanged
in the buildup to a climax, and is led there by lots and lots of fights,
car chases and gameplay in the truest New York sense of the word. I enjoyed
this film immensely from beginning to end. It's not about color anymore.
It's not making a statement of race. It's a Good vs Evil romp that is a
welcome introduction, even if you never knew who Shaft was. But, of
course, if you did know, and had the luck to see it the first time, this is
a "welcome home" of the ultimate degree because it should have been done
this way, in the first place.
North American Ambassador
Trash City Magazine