Superfly

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92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

70%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,556

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Movie Info

Priest (Ron O'Neal), a suave top-rung New York City drug dealer, decides that he wants to get out of his dangerous trade. Working with his reluctant friend, Eddie (Carl Lee), Priest devises a scheme that will allow him make a big deal and then retire. When a desperate street dealer informs the police of Priest's activities, Priest is forced into an uncomfortable arrangement with corrupt narcotics officers. Setting his plan in motion, he aims to both leave the business and stick it to the man.

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Critic Reviews for Superfly

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Superfly

  • Aug 22, 2012
    ***1/2 out of **** Priest (Ron O'Neal) is a NYC cocaine dealer trying to figure out where he stands in both the business and in life. On the business side of things, he is successful and reasonably wealthy; but he'd also like nothing more than to get out of it all-together and start a new life elsewhere with his girlfriend. Of course, when Priest (whose first name is Youngblood) expresses these desires to his friends and colleagues, they practically laugh in his face. As Priest's business partner Eddie (Carl Lee) says: "You're gunna give all this up? Eight Track Stereo, color T.V. in every room, and can snort a half a piece of dope every day?" To both Eddie and Priest; this sounds very much like the idealistic "good life". We get an understanding of why Priest would want to leave the business. Early on, he's about to do a pick-up when two junkies assault him right there at the friend's place. This is just one thing that contributes; another thing might be the violence that concerns the trade. Priest's mentor Scatter (Julius Harris) has retired from dealing coke, and serves as an inspiration for the life that maybe Priest himself would like to live one day. But his friends are forever able to persuade him to stay with the business and most of the plot chronicles his downwards spiral as he fails to escape the white, powder-like nightmare. A lot of the film has to do with the mood-setting. The city is established as dark, unrelenting, but more or less home to the kind of people that make up the story's colorful cast. The shooting script was only 45 pages total, which explains the abundance of "street shots" and similar stylistic tricks, which help to give the film its authenticity. It's a rare movie that actually cares deeply about the cultures it is talking about and provides a sympathetic portrayal of its characters, who would otherwise be anti-heroes (a lot of them still are, but we can somehow identify with Priest). It's an otherwise simplistic and familiar story that is taken to new heights with its honest ambition alone. Director Gordon Parks Jr directs the material with an iron hand, although he's clearly not the only one at the reign. O'Neal's performance is absolutely dynamic, and his troubled drug dealer character is one for the books. Another key factor to the success of "Superfly" is Curtis Mayfield's original soundtrack-score, which is very commanding at times and takes over some of the film's best scenes; such as the one in Scatter's restaurant where Mayfield in his band are physically present and performing, and another still photograph montage showing Priest and his fellow dealers doing the deed after they've struck up a deal with the New York fuzz. There are other great scenes involving inspirational speeches and Priest's problems. The film was controversial for its time, obviously because of the "graphic" on-screen cocaine usage, which is aplenty. The critics initially labeled the film as exploitative and supportive of the abuse and business of the drug; although the filmmakers denied these claims saying that their intent was the complete opposite to whatever the detractors saw. In my opinion, it's not a pro-coke or pro-crime movie at all; it's trying to show that the life associated with the drug can be very cruel and dangerous. If anything, I think the film serves to convince people not to tread these waters. It's one of those things where, I assume; once you're in, you can't get back out. The film conveys this message through compelling images, music, and style; and what better way to do so? It works as a great slice of entertainment as well as a thoughtful historical piece; historical in the sense that it left its mark on exploitation cinema as one of the smartest and most influential for the genre. While the film possesses some of the bare essentials of a Blaxploitation film - sleaze (a gratuitous bathtub sex scene) for instance - it is also more intelligent than most. Don't be deceived by what you are presented with. "Superfly" has cars, girls, sex, drugs, and R&B music; and while it embraces its stylistic flourishes to the fullest, there's a lot more to it than the credentials of cool. I can recommend this one highly because it's not only fun, but also tragic and kind of sad at the center of it all. You may still find yourself questioning whether it's promoting or criticizing this lifestyle; but just remember that just because a film is showing something in its most stark form doesn't mean it believes in it.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 11, 2010
    If I were reviewing just the soundtrack, I'd give it 5 stars easy. Now,since I'm having to review the film as well, things are different. And no, the bulk of the rating isn't just for the music. This movie has some good merits on its own. The cars and clothes are awesome. The gritty NYC locationwork is great adding a nice touch of realism and relatability, the acting is mostly decent (for what it is), and the same goes for the dialogue. I'm generally very kind to every type of movie I watch, I always try to focus on the positives and be asforgiving andunderstanding as I can with the short comings. For some of those short comings, if they don't impact the overall effect, they aren't a big deal and can be overlooked. This is one of the most well known, better made, and influential Blaxploitation. Even though it does have its fairshare of critical and scholarly haters, this film is pretty competently made, and does have some good subtext and deeper stuff going on. For that, I give it more props than I already do. Take some ofthat away, and the movie is still pretty entertaining, even if more shallow. While some of the film's content is responsible for some of the stereotyping that comes along with these films, it's played pretty straight and serious. Oh, there's humor, but it's intentional (most of it- some of the dialogue and racial slurs had me laughing when I probably shouldn't have found it that funny). As far assome of the backlash is concerned- this isn't nearly as violent asI thought it would be, or as it could have been. I will admit that it does glamorize drugs and the drug culture, (something the soundtrack does not do), but it doesn't really get too overboard with it. Honestly, I think this film is entertaining whether you watch it for what it is, or, like me, you want (and have to) read into it. (I'm writing a Master's seminar paper on Blaxploitation).
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2010
    Excellent movie, with and awesome soundtrack, great story, and a wonderful hero. Superfly is well worth searching for.
    Jonny C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 10, 2009
    Curtis Mayfield provided this soundtrack that easily stands alone as an album without the film. "Little Child, Running Wild," "Freddie's Dead" and "Pusherman" are soul music milestones.
    Arianeta L Super Reviewer

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