Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 14, 2010
Let's see: is this a good movie? Well, it's definitely an important film. As far as being "good" though, well...yeah, but it's really rough around the edges, and overall, it's a big mess. But I do applaud the effort, this film's impact, it's influence, and I do find it entertaining.

When I say it's a mess though, I'm not kidding. Some of this is hard to watch, and at times, I had no idea what the hell was going on. I appreciate the techniques being used though, as they add to the tension and the experience of being chased, but I think that they could have done a better job of editing, and toned down the experimental stuff.

This is a landmark film, and for a lot of reasons. It is often cited as the first Blaxploitation film, and, along with Shaft, and Super Fly, remains one of the highlights of that genre. It's also an important film for African American in general (and African American films and filmaking specifically), and is also a fine example of super low-budget independent guerrilla filmmaking. It's not without it's controversies (and for good reasons), but it's an important film that needs to be seen regardless, especially for those interested in film history and blaxploitation films.

This is a wild, rough, and crazy mess, but it's also very interesting, entertaining, and just something where it's better to see it than to be talked to about.
Super Reviewer
½ November 28, 2009
A necessary film; not quite necessary viewing. That is, unless you're a blaxploitation film buff, in which case you should look no further. Perhaps more interesting is the story that surrounds it, both in its making and in its reception.

For instance, he performed all his own stunts so, for one scene, he jumped off a bridge a total of 9 times. He also performed numerous sex scenes himself, contracting gonorrhea, applying for worker's comp, and using the money to help him complete the funding of the film.

This was one of the most important films that inspired the later films of the blaxploitation era. Incredibly innovative and creative for its time. It has some of the obvious drawbacks of a film made on a half a million dollar budget but much less than you'd expect for such low-budget film.
All the more so, considering Melvin van Peebles himself wrote, scored, directed, edited, and starred in the film.
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2009
This is a landmark film for many reasons, and although it is rough around the edges, I urge everyone to at least watch it once, and then watch the story of the making of this film, Baadasssss! (A.K.A. How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass), made by the directors son, Mario Van Peebles.

It is very easy for a modern audience to perhaps overlook this film as one of the slew of 'Blaxpliotation' films produced in the 70s, however this stands out firstly as virtually the originator of that mode of films, and as a crusade for a young, talented black artist and director to make a film that is both honest and challenging about the representation of black people in cinema.

If nothing else you must respect Melvin Van Peebles for the Guerrilla film making techniques that created this movie.

This film is a great argument for the importance to minority groups within any society to gain access to and control of media production in order to challenge dominant ideologies and representations put forward in mainstream media.

It is also virtually impossible to view Baadasssss! without a tear coming to your eyes, so difficult and harrowing was Melvin Van Peebles journey to get this film made.
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2008
On one hand, a vibrant but muddled fugitive-on-the-run story... on the other, a remarkable cultural milestone. Independent, amazingly low-budget and experimental, Van Peebles work influenced the way in which African-Americans would break the color-barrier in film by directly spawning the Blaxploitation genre.

That said, this movie is NOT Blaxploitation, instead having all the earmarks of an independent experimental film... Blaxploitation was merely Hollywood's response to this movies groundbreaking thematic content. To look at this movie without context, only looking at its technical execution, loses much of what made it powerful. While later films would also have low-budgets and deal with similar militant themes, they nowhere near reached the raw content and reality of this film: Peebles' actually contracted Gonorrhea from the sex-scenes in the film, for god sakes. There are some movies which would be impossible to ever duplicate, and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song proudly stands as one of them.
Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2009
Wow, I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I don't think it was this. A landmark of cinema, this film doesn't pull any punches, from the first memorable scene where young Sweetback gets his name, via a bunch of violence, sex and racism, through to the second half which mostly involves running a lot. An Earth Wind and Fire soundtrack, but you won't be hearing any of their hits. One of a kind. .
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2008
A truly independent vision and the cornerstone of blaxploitation cinema.
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2008
After hearing all the hype, I was a bit let down.
½ March 18, 2013
Not necessarily a "good" film, but indeed a very important one. Made independently (no studio would fund it) on a shoestring budget of only $150,000, Sweet Sweetback grossed an astonishing $15.2 million at the box office (11th highest grossing film of 1971) and paved the way of the likes of Spike Lee, John Singleton and other influential African American filmmakers. It's very rough around the edges and overall, the film is a total mess, script- and performance-wise. However, the film's aesthetic quality has a psychedelic aura that keeps the viewer captivated with its innovative cinematography, editing, and score. In entertainment value, it does not fail.
½ March 10, 2013
The film that started the entire Blaxploitation film genre is this important landmark film about a black man who grew up in a brothel, works as sex entertainment there as an adult, and ends up on the run after beating two LAPD officers unconscious after they arrested him for no legitimate reason and then beat another black guy up. It's full of sex and violence, which makes this much more of an exploitation film than "Shaft" really is (it is more of a gritty detective drama that just happens to have a black lead). The success of this and "Shaft" the same year ultimately created a string of blaxploitation films in the 1970s. The film itself is very rough around the edges, but that is part of the appeal, that Van Peebles made this on a low budget and did everything practically himself in order to make his film...it may be rough but it is something, and it made a lasting impression on cinema, particularly for black people working in cinema.
½ June 28, 2011
I think I have to respect this film more for what it started that for what it actually is, as there's a good amount of padding and filler strewn throughout that I could honestly do without. Long stretches of LSD inspired color fiddling and jazz noodling on the soundtrack as Sweetback runs through the city isn't as compelling as I'm sure it's meant to be, but this film started a whole new trend in cinema, so I have to give it its due for that much.

Worth a look, but a rental might be advised.
September 11, 2010
I know this is supposed to be the one that started it all for blaxploitation flicks... but it barely even makes sense. it's a fun film experiment, for sure, but as a narrative, it's a mess. i'm glad it exists because of what came after, but in and of itself, i'm not a huge fan.
April 15, 2010
More like Sweet Sweetback's Blaackasssss Dong, amirite? Sort of? Yeah, it's mostly Melvin Van Peebles having sex, to the extent that he contracted gonorrhea. Way to go, MVP, I have no idea how we connect the dots to arrive at the civil rights being demanded by filming yourself having sex with so many people you caught a disease, but I hope it was worth opening the door for movies like "White Chicks". Even better with that opening sequence of your something-like-8 years old son and. . .uh. . .a hooker. But anyway, I don't mind the fighting of oppression and whathaveyou, but this wasn't very interesting, however if nothing else it served its purpose and now guys like Spike Lee can make movies without resorting to putting children in scenes that could land you in jail. But those Wayans Bros. . . .
November 28, 2007
This is the first and best of what would eventually become known as the "Blaxploitation" genre. A true spit in the eye of a film. Check out BAADASSSS, as that is about the making of this movie.
½ June 14, 2007
It seemed like the last thirty minutes were probably pretty good; unfortunately the beginning wasn't engaging enough to hold interest that long.
½ April 14, 2007
An important landmark in soul cinema/blaxsploitation/black filmmaking in general. Weather it transcends its time or not is up to each viewer. It still entertained me, here and there.
½ October 26, 2006
The original Kill Whitey movie, Sweetback is a surreal but gritty art house blaxploitation porno. The film was shaped just as much by the economics of its production as it was by Van Peebles' relentless drive to create the first genuine black film experience untainted by the whitewashes of the studio system, making it a textbook example of the zen of exploitation films.
May 26, 2015
So, is it an experimental film with a Blaxploitation theme or a Blaxploitation film using experimental methods? (Or an experimental Blaxploitation film, as if such a genre existed?). Melvin Van Peebles uses every trick in the filmmaker's bag (and on a very low budget) to create a somewhat crazy meditation on our Black hero's trouble with The Man (he defends a brother who is being shaken down by two White cops) and his flight on foot from L.A. to Mexico. Earth Wind and Fire provide elements of the soundtrack - or is it just that one riff played over and over and over? The rest of the soundtrack is, again, experimental and full of subjective effects and non-diegetic sounds. Van Peebles himself plays Sweetback who is renowned for his prowess in the sack (he grew up in a brothel). Shall I mention that this film also breaks taboos and must have been rated X in its day (although would be seen as somewhat tamer today, though definitely laced with nudity/sex and a tiny bit of fake blood). Nothing like Shaft or the mainstream Blaxploitation films (you have been warned); so, probably not worth your time if you wouldn't also enjoy plotless experimental fare. But otherwise great!
January 16, 2015
I have seen many movies in my time and this one is in the running for the worst! I don't see how any body could like this movie! How did it even make it to film is hard to grasp!
May 24, 2012
Perhaps of more significance historically than cinematic ally, I nonetheless found this a fascinating film. It was not a widely distributed film but in the limited markets where it was shown (mostly in "black neighborhoods" I would imagine) it was a HUGE success. Watching this film now (a bizarre, disjointed "experimental" film) it's hard to imagine what audiences made of it back in the 60s. It's certainly doubtful that it would have the same impact if it came out today... but back in the 60s the very *idea* of a film centered on a black hero on the run from some less-than-perfect police officers was enough to blow peoples' minds. The movie is very a much a product of its time (lots of weird color effects and editing tricks) but I think the "dated" aspects of the film help put the audience back into that particular time and place rather than distancing them from the movie itself. It's not a perfect movie by any means but it has a strength and a style and great passion... and, in my view, that trumps bland competence.
½ November 3, 2014
Por maior que seja a importância histórica de "Sweet Sweetback's...", enquanto filme de libertação e contestação assumidíssima por parte da comunidade afro-americana, não há muito mais para retirar daqui além de toda essa energia rebelde. O filme de Melvin Van Peebles esforça-se por ter um ritmo musical funk-jazz, mas algumas das suas vinhetas são bastante enfadonhas e perto dos 60 minutos comecei a desejar que o filme terminasse.
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