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Shaft (1971)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 11,813

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Movie Info

Richard Roundtree cuts a startlingly new and powerful heroic figure as John Shaft, "the cat who won't cop out, when there's danger all about" in Gordon Parks' seminal action film, Shaft. John Shaft is a black private eye with a small office near Times Square. On his way there one day, he gets pumped for information by Lt. Victor Androzzi (Charles Cioffi), a friend of his on the police force, about something big going down in Harlem involving black crime kingpin Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn). Shaft


Classics, Action & Adventure

Jun 6, 2000

MGM Home Entertainment

Watch It Now


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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (4) | DVD (18)

Excellent cast, headed by newcomer Richard Roundtree, may shock some audiences with heavy dose of candid dialog and situation.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Forty years of gumshoe noir collided with black power in this 1971 action classic, the most popular of the blaxploitation pictures.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A hip, cool, entertaining thriller.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (3)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are a lot of movies from that era that do basically the same things... but not many of them do them as well.

September 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

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.

October 15, 2012 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

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?

April 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4

A blaxploitation pic that's never quite as cool as its theme song.

April 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

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.

April 26, 2009 Full Review Source:

It's the music that's great here, but the iconic hero is a kick to watch.

January 10, 2008

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.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

What's not to like? Shaft rocked!

April 14, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

Who's the black private dick that's the center of a still-enjoyable flick? Shaft!

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix

Surprisingly good and it holds up

October 22, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Undeniably cool

October 11, 2002
Lawrence Journal-World

A classic. The best film to come out of the blaxploitation era is still fun to watch today.

September 27, 2002

Sexy, Smart, Action-Packed and Groooooovy.

September 18, 2002

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.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

Maybe the greatest Blaxploitation film of all. This film started a cultural phenomenon that ripples 30 years later.

August 2, 2002
Arizona Daily Star

As entertaining as it was thirty years ago.

October 24, 2001 Full Review

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."
February 22, 2012
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

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.
December 22, 2010
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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.
December 21, 2010

Super Reviewer

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.
November 28, 2010
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. Sgt. Tom Hannon: Where the hell are you going?
    2. Shaft: To get laid. Where the hell are you going?
    – Submitted by Johnny W (18 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • Shaft, les nuits rouges de Harlem (FR)
  • Shaft, Las noches rojas de Harlem (ES)
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