Tag Archives: Shaft

BaadAsssss Cinema

Directed by Isaac Julien
Produced by Paula Jalfon, Colin MacCabe & Caroline Kaplan
Written by Isaac Julien & Adam Finch
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
Pam Grier
Quentin Tarantino
Distributed by Independent Film Channel
Release date August 14, 2002
Running time 60 minutes
Language English

Baadasssss Cinema is a documentary that discusses the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s, and particularly looks at the post popular films such as Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Shaft, Black Caesar, Superfly and Coffy. People interviewed include Fred Williamson, Mario Van Peebles, Qeuntin Taratino and the lovely Pam Grier, who talk about the impact that the films had on the black community and on popular culture.
Personally I’ve always liked blaxploitation films (those that I have seen anyway). They are very visual, like the film equivalent of a comic book, with their over the top fashion, violence, stereotypes, great music and bad acting. How can you not love a genre of movie that features something as ridiculous as Pam Grier pulling a gun that was hidden in her afro before shooting the bad guys. It is this sort of thing that makes these films so much fun to watch.
BaadAsssss Cinema also briefly goes into detail about the blaxploitation crossovers that happened as well, such as the blaxploitation/horror films like Blacula (Dracula’s black soul brother) and also the blaxploitation/kung fu crossovers. It was very interesting and gave me a hunger to see more of these incredible blaxploitation films.

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Shaft

Directed by Gordon Parks
Produced by Joel Freeman
Written by Ernest Tidyman (novel & screenplay)
John D.F. Black
Starring Richard Roundtree
Music by Isaac Hayes & J. J. Johnson
Cinematography Urs Furrer
Editing by Hugh A. Robertson
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Warner Bros. (DVD)
Release date July 2, 1971 (USA)
Language English

Shaft is often hailed as one of the first Blaxploitation films that were made in the 1970s but I am not so sure if it really fits into that category. To me it seems more like a typical cop film set in New York, only with a black man as the hero of the piece. There is also the iconic Theme From Shaft by the late Isaac Hayes, which I guess sets it apart from the rest.

I enjoyed Shaft very much and thought it was very exciting. Compared to the blaxploitation films that followed this one seems very tame, as the sex scenes and violence are toned down, while the swearing is not as over the top as the later films. The plot involves the daughter of  a black crime boss being kidnapped by the mafia and Shaft having to rescue her in order to stop the potential bloodshed that a gang war in Harlem would cause. Richard Roundtree is very likable as John Shaft and gives a very laid back performance. Most of the acting is pretty good, especially when compared to later blaxploitation films.