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Coffy is a nurse whose younger sister gets involved in drugs and is severely injured by contaminated heroin. Coffy sets out on a mission of vengeance and vigilante justice, killing drug dealers, pimps, and mobsters who cross her path. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
A blaxploitation classic! Possibly Pam Grier's best movie.
Pam Grier made many movies in the 1970s, but 'Coffy' as much as anything, is the one role on which her reputation as the Queen of blaxploitation rests. After a bit part in a Russ Meyer movie (his classic 'Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls'), Jack Hill, former Roger Corman protege and director of the creepy cult favourite 'Spider Baby', "discovered" her and gave her two strong roles in his popular chicks-in-chains movies 'The Big Doll House' and 'The Big Bird Cage'. Then Hill wrote and directed 'Coffy', a hugely entertaining revenge thriller that really showcases Pam Grier's talent and charisma to the max. The movie was hugely successful and made Grier an exploitation superstar. Instead of a female James Bond character like Cleopatra Jones, Hill made Coffy a regular working class black woman (a nurse as a matter of fact), who must use her brains and looks to achieve her goal - revenge for the drug addiction of her kid sister. The movie crosses elements seen in the male blaxploitation classics of the period like 'Superfly' and 'Shaft' with the vigilante genre which would really kick off with the success of 'Death Wish' the following year (yup, 'Coffy' PREDATES 'Death Wish', so let's get that straight). Grier is sensational in this movie. She can act, she's tough, she pulls off the action scenes with credibility, and of course she looks great, and there is a fair bit of nudity. Grier went on to movies like 'The Arena', 'Sheba, Baby' and 'Drum' before the blaxploitation boom burst, but it's a pity that she only made one more movie with Jack Hill ('Foxy Brown') because they were a dynamite team bringing out the best in each other. 'Coffy' has some interesting supporting cast members including Allan Arbus (best know to fans of TV's 'M.A.S.H.') as Mob boss Vitroni, future 'Robocop' actor Robert DoQui as flamboyant pimp King George, and the brilliant Sid Haig as the sleazy Omar. Haig was a regular Grier co-star throughout the 1970s and Jack Hill's favourite actor ever since his breakthrough role in 'Spider Baby'. If you really want to understand why so many movie buffs from Quentin Tarantino on down worship Pam Grier then 'Coffy' is THE movie to watch. Arguably her best movie, it's a blaxploitation classic and still great viewing thirty years later! Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in 1970s exploitation or crime movies.
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