Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song Reviews

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½ February 8, 2017
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, a 70s exploitation flick about black oppression, stores a psychedelic rhythm, giving the black culture a voice in dynamic, innovative filmmaking and finding surprising channels of odd dark humor and pathos in that voice.
½ February 4, 2017
Sweet Sweetback is one strange mutha of a movie. It's noisy, lewd and not the funky, more linear detective thriller that Shaft was. If you are easily offended, I'd recommend steering well clear from the beginning. It opens with a young man of questionable legal age having sex with an older woman. This unfortunately sets the tone and it never quite redeems itself...
½ December 29, 2016
In a way, I admire this film more than I enjoy it, but that's because my admiration is immense. This is often flagged as a formative blaxploitation film, but it's only really blaxploitation in the loosest sense. Blaxploitation films were, generally speaking, conventional exploitation films that added black actors and occasionally some themes that were designed to appeal to black audiences. This film is entirely unconventional and is truly revolutionary in it's form and structure. If I enjoy it less than I admire it, it's because it tends to become overly repetitious after the first hour and doesn't seem to really know how to get to it's ending. It's potent stuff though.
December 30, 2015
What starts with an unexpected borderline child porn scene, the movie soon turns into an hour-and-a-half long chase montage of the police against a black male prostitute. The whole movie is pretty ridiculous with its psychedelic, some times nearly incomprehensible, quick editing and loose plot... and that's probably why it is a cult classic. Also considered the first blaxploitation film, it's worth watching for a piece of film history. But for overall enjoyment, later blax. movies are much more exciting.
June 4, 2015
A really great movie
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!
November 14, 2014
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.
½ January 3, 2014
I happened across "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" while researching the history of Earth Wind & Fire (EWF ). The movie, which a friend had told me helped EWF take off, is certainly different from what I was expecting from a movie of the time period (it's not as if I hold a depth of movie history to draw from in forming my expectation, but still...). After having watched the film I'm left confused as to exactly what type of creature possessed Melvin Van Peebles. Allow me to elaborate...

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...
½ September 17, 2013
Must see for any film student or civil rights historian. And all Americans should be amateur historians! Do you know who "Da Man" is?
August 23, 2013
This movie is pretty weird, but cool in its own right. While it does have that quality, it's just not as good as Shaft in my opinion. What I don't seem to get is the music. I think it's trying to be soul or R&B (as it was in the 70's), but the most recurring track in the film tends to sound distorted. Then again, it was made on a budget of only $150,000. The plot doesn't seem to make sense at first, but eventually, you'll get it. It's not bad, and the action isn't bad either, but by comparison, I think I prefer Shaft. Though I do like the opening and ending text, and how it affects the feel of the movie.
March 30, 2013
The original blaxploitation film this controversial, shocking and occasionally funny picture certainly caused some waves at the time of its release. There is a lot of experimentation on show here and some clearly does not work but its vibrant and definitely memorable.
½ March 30, 2013
I like to pride myself as having seen a wide range of films however I'm embarrassed to admit that one subgenre of film that is my complete spot was blaxploitation. Well, not anymore. Despite being very obviously a product of its time, this film is still very much fun to watch. It's very well crafted (despite the rough around the edges quality) and its daring content still packs a punch. Add to that the really cool soundtrack. The third act feels a bit padded out but apart from that, it's one really cool movie.
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 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 January 24, 2013
From.what I recall of it. It was a,hardcore sex flick not hardcore but had sex scene with insaneky hot black actresses. Hehehe
½ January 2, 2013
I understand its significance, but to me its almost unwatchable.
December 16, 2012
Truly a one of a kind movie that deserves to be seen more than once. In my own opinion to truly appreciate this film you have to go see Mario Van Peebles Badassssss. It'll explain the films need to be made in the first place plus it shows how hard making a film really is especially one of this caliber.
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