Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song Reviews
The movie, within the first few minutes, leads with a graphic scene which is portrayed in a manner I'm unable to imagine anyone not feeling extremely uncomfortable with. As if the act were not heinous enough (in and of itself), the scene lasts much longer than it needs to. This was a common issue throughout the movie. The flick's progression is further handicapped by bad editing with some scenes being presented, then lingering uncomfortably long after their point is established, while other scenes are interrupted by harsh jump-cuts, and the replaying of the poorly written lines of dialogue multiple times.
Melvin Van Peebles' character, Sweetback (named such for his sexual prowess), is chased throughout Los Angeles in an attempt to stop him from from reaching the Mexican boarder. Think Kurt Russell, in the "Escape From" series (New York, & L.A.), but without the interesting character development, cool weaponry, believable action scenes, or passable acting. Pursued by the oppressive authority of the racist "White" man's police force, our hero orphan, Sweetback, fights the power by beating up, & killing cops. The film never provides a reason for the viewer to care about the protagonist though.
Portraying Sweetback as one part super sex-machine, one part cop killer, & one part long-distance marathoner, the film stitches one poorly acted, poorly cut, unbelievable escape to another poorly acted, poorly cut, unbelievable escape via long, drawn-out, cross-country treks, or a gratuitous showing of Sweetback's genitals. The movie might have actually made for a better viewing as a porn flick, being that in porn the why's don't matter as much as the money-shot. Fantasy violence gives way to fantasy sexuality as one inept police officer after another falls to the might of our over sexualized protagonist. In one scene, Sweetback turns a hostile all "White" biker-gang into a captive and accepting audience by challenging their female leader to a sex-off. No, It's really in the movie.
I'm not sure of what surprises me more; the 19 hours of filming that went into the production, the $150,000 budget the picture was made for, the $15 million the film grossed, the fact that I was able to tolerate Van Peebles' awkward running for an hour & a half, or that the career of EWF was assisted in any way by providing the soundtrack to this movie.
Suffering from lack of clear narrative, plot & character development, calling "Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" - bad - is an understatement. It could be used as a rubric of what not to do in cinema. Then again, it did make $15 million...