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Shaft, a highly successful film, spawned an industry of sequels and imitations. The daughter (Sherri Brewer) of Bumpy Jones (Moses Gunn), a (white) gangster, has been kidnapped by a rival (black) gang. Bumpy hires private detective Shaft (Richard Roundtree) to find her. Shaft gets some assistance from Lt. Androzzy (Charles Cioffi) of the NYPD, who hopes to avoid a gang war, especially one which could lead to open racial warfare. The other person who helps him is Ben Buford (Christopher St. John), a black militant who also wants to avoid race war. Shaft is tough. Shaft is smart. Shaft succeeds. Isaac Hayes won an Academy Award for the title song. … More
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Critic Reviews for Shaft
Excellent cast, headed by newcomer Richard Roundtree, may shock some audiences with heavy dose of candid dialog and situation.
Forty years of gumshoe noir collided with black power in this 1971 action classic, the most popular of the blaxploitation pictures.
Parks isn't especially good at action direction, but the heart of a private-eye movie is in the mood scenes, anyway, and he supplies a scene in a bar and another one with the Harlem rackets boss that are very nice.
There are a lot of movies from that era that do basically the same things... but not many of them do them as well.
Nearly every frame of Shaft is intent on doing one thing: establishing its hero as a powerful, independent, innately good yet still devilish man in control of his own destiny.
An efficient cop thriller, with a charismatic performance from Roundtree as "the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about...Shaft!" Can you dig it?
Though Ossie Davis's elaborate buddy comedy "Cotton Comes to Harlem" arrived a year earlier, Gordon Parks's "Shaft" (1971) was the movie that put Blaxploitation on the map.
It's the music that's great here, but the iconic hero is a kick to watch.
This was the second feature of the longtime still photographer Parks, in which he brought together talent for capturing an image and personal knowledge of life on the streets to create a hard-hitting action thriller.
What's not to like? Shaft rocked!
Who's the black private dick that's the center of a still-enjoyable flick? Shaft!
Surprisingly good and it holds up
A classic. The best film to come out of the blaxploitation era is still fun to watch today.
Sexy, Smart, Action-Packed and Groooooovy.
This is the best example of a film with awesome style but not much substance. On some levels, it's like, the coolest flick ever.
Maybe the greatest Blaxploitation film of all. This film started a cultural phenomenon that ripples 30 years later.
Audience Reviews for Shaft
This was my first foray into the world of blaxploitation and boy was it an interesting experience. I can see why it was well received in it's day by both black and white viewers. Not only does it fulfill every preconceived notion that potential white viewers may have had about African-Americans, but it also is a movie very focused on blackness. Hell, in one scene Shaft's coffee isn't even black enough for him. It is infuriatingly stereotypical and empowering all at the same time.
While this film does feature some rather interesting direction and a fairly engaging story, you cannot help but be mostly entertained by it's charming anachronisms. I mean where else are you going to find classic lines such as: "You got problems, baby?" "Hehe. Yeah, I got a couple of 'em. I was born black... and I was born poor."
Private eye John Shaft is hired by a crime boss to find his kidnapped daughter and gets caught up in a war between Harlem gangsters and the mafia. Shaft is the original "Blaxploitation" film, but as is always the case with progenitors of an entire genre it is actually rather tamer than you'd expect. It's certainly an exploitation film, but the violence never crosses the line into excess and Shaft is shown to be a tolerant and fair-minded man (no signs of the appalling sexism and homophobia that went on the taint this type of film). It's no surprise that Richard Roundtree was an icon to young black men in these post civil rights movement years; he is tough, stylish and never without the attention of women or money but more importantly, he is totally self-assured, fearless and not only doesn't take any shit from "the man", he is accepted and respected by all concerned. Taken out of context, it's a fairly standard 70s detective story, the real reason it stood out from the crowd being the fact that all of the heroes are black and Isaac Hayes' classic soundtrack. The humour is a little weak and lowbrow and there are a couple of hilariously pointless love scenes but as a whole it's a stylish and efficient thriller that is no world changer, but never disappoints either.More
This is the first blaxploitation movie I saw, and it's my favourite. This movie is action packed and has a great story. Shaft really is cool.More
This movie is awesome. It's far less action packed than I thought it would be, and also contained a lot more tropes and elements of later blaxploitation ilms (cliches, stereotypes, etc) than I expected, but that's okay.
This is a detective story that basically feels like a gritty 1970s take on a hardboiled film noir detective story, with a black guy as the lead instead of a white guy. It's got some modern touches (well, modern for the 1970s), but basically feels timeless with the general story at hand.
Gordon Parks, Sr. gives some top notch direction filled with grit, style, and flair. Richard Roundtree is great in the role that made his career, and of course, the music is nothing but badass. If you haven't seen this one yet, you really need to. It's a classic of it's genre, and just a classic film from its time.
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