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John Shaft is the ultimate in suave black detectives. He first finds himself up against Bumpy, the leader of the Black crime mob, then against Black nationals, and finally working with both against the White Mafia who are trying to blackmail Bumpy by kidnapping his daughter. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
I can understand why modern viewers aren't too impressed with Shaft". Compared to modern action movies there isn't really much action here and it isn't anything spectacular no huge shootouts , kung fu fights , big explosions , car chases and so on. There is lot of dialogue and the pacing is rather slow.
You know what ? Those are the reasons why I really like "Shaft" . It feels like a REAL LIFE story . Not every movie has to be an over the top spectacle for simple minded audience. For me less is more . I can hardly care for action hero when he's doing impossible stuff like jumping over the missile with a truck. Here the danger feels real . There is no villain . A simple bad guy with a gun can end your life and you have to be very careful . Shaft uses his muscles only when necessary . He prefers to outsmart his enemy , because violence can lead you as far. When he's fighting for life , you FEEL that he's fighting for life.
The movie captures the gritty atmosphere of 70's New York City . In this world everybody is walking a thin line between law and law of street . I also like that Shaft is a detective and the investigation actually plays important part through whole movie . Not to mention that characters here feel like they could exist in real life.
Richard Roundtree is great as the charming bad ass Shaft who is one foot in the world of black people and the other foot in the world of white people. He easily dominates the whole movie with his tough , confident and wise cracking personality. Women , both black and white are attracted to him (We get to see naked women something you can't see in action movies anymore). The other actors give him solid support. I liked Charles Cioffi as Vic Androzzi and Moses Gunn as Bumpy.
The movie is worth watching for the delightful dialogue. Believe me there is more tension in a scene when Shaft talks to Bumpy than in many car chases. The movie is very dialogue heavy , yet it's a true pleasure to listen how characters talk with each other . Most of the dialogue is quite humorous . You should prepare pen and paper to note .
The action scenes are nicely photographed . There is a great title song by Isaac Hayes (it won Oscar) and during the movie you can hear few other nice songs. "Shaft " is mostly entertainment , but it was also an important movie for black people. It's one of those rare movies where the black guy is a hero . The situation now changed , but long time ago it was a breakthrough movie . "Shaft" also captures really good the tension between white and black people back in the 70's.
I give it 7/10.
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