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. It’s all in that kick ass ’70s blaxploitation feel, from Isaac Hayes’ mesmerizing score to the funky clothes. And the hero! Richard Roundtree is as good as it gets as private dick whose a sex machine to all the chicks John Shaft. The plot is just okay, but hey… So you got the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about Shaft in his fly trenchcoat, strutting his afro all the way to his office, where two shady characters are awaiting him. They’re coming on behalf of Bumpy, a Harlem warlord who controls much of the underground business. It seems his daughter was kidnapped, maybe by Italian mobsters wanting to compete on his turf. So the man who will risk his neck for his brother man scouts the streets looking for clues, and with the help of a bunch of badass Negroes, he’ll bust the girl out.
Okay, not much thought in the story. They should have developed the script, ’cause the story is dull by moments. But you cannot not like all these unforgettable bits of black wisdom and the way Roundtree puts so much attitude in the already snappy dialogue. Imagine Sam Jackson, but even cooler (Jackson is actually shooting an update of the flick directed by John Sngleton). Many scenes are hilarious, and I dig all the gratuitous sex and excessive violence. Shaft, a complicated man who no one understands but his woman, keeps getting it on with anonymous babes he just met, and he sure kicks ass when it comes to getting back at punks. There are also a few nifty twists in the story, and the climactic showdown is as thrilling and satisfying as you can imagine. And even when the film drags, Isaac Hayes’ soulful music keeps it grooving. I hear this cat Shaft is a bad mother – shut ya mouth! But I’m talking about Shaft! And we can dig it….