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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.
In hindsight I should have watched this before Foxy Brown, as this was the better movie. However, it seems that Foxy is far more memorable, with it's over-the-top violence. This one's pretty violent as well, and has all the Pam Grier scenes that you'd expect. Coffy offing a drug pusher in the first few minutes, having a touching family moment, fighting a room full of women that results in everyone's top being janked off, some bad guys nuts getting blown off (literally, not figuratively), and, of course, Pam trading blows with at least 2 lesbians at once. Still, this one has a little more integrity than Foxy, being that it was made first and was a little tamer. Check out Sidney Freidman from M*A*S*H as a sleazy bad guy! This movie passes the time quite nicely.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Pure action film nirvana, "Coffy" has got to be one of the slickest
pieces of entertainment ever created, not to mention the penultimate
"Blaxploitation" cinema experience. It's a credit to everyone involved
in the film that the story could be so gratuitously nonsensical and
contrived and still seem completely logical while it's happening. It's
like a comic book come to life.
Pam Grier plays Coffy, a nurse who goes on a murderous rampage after her sister overdoses on drugs supplied by a "pusher" who knows that Coffy is sending her money. From the opening scene, where Coffy pulls a severely-sawed-off shotgun out of her macramé purse to blast a big-time drug dealer to hell, the frantic pace never lets up until the bitter, seething end.
After making her first "hit", Coffy's vengeance is further stoked when her do-good cop friend is taken out by the dirty dealers for not accepting a payoff. Coffy blows her top and takes some time off work to really go for the jugular, working her way through the city's drug cartel by posing as a Jamaican hooker named "Mystique". It's not hard--she gets the vital information in a hilarious scene involving a woman named Priscilla, whose "old man," Harriet, turns out to be more than Coffy bargained for.
The genius in the film is in the way that Coffy manages to manipulate her way through all of these scenarios. Even the hardest criminals are putty in her hands, and she never looks more beautiful than when she is covered in scratches, grime, and wielding a shotgun. She has a seemingly endless bag of tricks, several of which involve weapons hidden in her astonishing afro. She's comfortable around a gun, but she'll use any old thing lying around to wreak her vengeance: a broken wine bottle, a hypodermic needle full of dope, a makeshift shiv, even a convenient rock lying on the side of the road.
By the time the climax rolls around, the film has become deliriously exciting, building continuously upwards until you think it might collapse in on itself. But it doesn't. "Coffy" stands tall, even over the strains of a closing song that tells us "Revenge is a virtue." This film is nearly perfect in every way.
By 1973 AIP had struck paydirt many times over with Black Caesar and its sequel, the two Slaughter films, several black/horror hybrids like Blacula, and of course the jungle prison sleazies, and now their first black superchick flick Coffy went into production. Jack Hill (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage) was at the helm again, along with the tried-and-tested formula of Pam Grier and Sid Haig. Coffy is a nurse by day and avenging angel at night, tracking down the dealers who got her sister hooked on the Big H. She opens the film blowing the head off a dealer with a shotgun, then follows the trail of dead bodies to a bald hood named Omar and her crooked politician boyfriend, who she shoots in the balls. "Revenge is a virtue", the soundtrack blares; critics applauded the liberated ballsy lead character while decrying the level of sex and sadism. As revenge actioners go, Coffy don't come better. Grier in her first lead role is a sensation. Little wonder Tarantino tailor-made a film for her.
Pam Grier shines in this hilarious action-packed blaxploitation flick where
she first got her name as a 'black pin-up queen' during the early 70's. It
is apparent after watching this film that no one remembers this for the
bad-acting and dialogue, but for Pam Grier herself as a mean mutha who can
kick some a$$ when she has to!
This movie SCREAMS 'early 70's', from the afro wigs to the awesome outfits Coffy finds herself wearing whether it be at a gala for call girls or when she's undercover to kick some drug-dealer's nasty behind!
This brilliant film mixes comedy right in there with the action. From the campy catfight scenes when Coffy dumps a salad bowl onto a blonde girl's head, to when King George makes his first appearance and steps out of his car in his pimp outfit, complete right down to the feather in his hat!!! Just seeing Coffy smash a wine bottle on a table to defend herself against a crackhead wielding a knife is rioutous enough! Watch out for the scene where she puts razor blades in her hair!!!
There is also a lot of unintentional comedy in there as well. Look for the scene where Carter frisks a male suspect who makes the mistake of putting his hands through Coffy's car window!
The action is fairly consistent. There are a lot of guns firing off, endless catfights that result in each girl having their dresses ripped open to expose their breasts(!!!) and an awesome scene that results in King George getting tied up with a noose and dragged through an obstacle course behind a car.
But every time Coffy appears on screen and you just KNOW that some bad stuff is about to go down, you know that you're going to be taken for a fun ride! As I mentioned above, no one is watching this movie for an Oscar-nominated performance or even a decent soundtrack (the "Coffy" theme sung by the Gladys Knight & The Pips-wannabes halfway through the movie is timeless!!!) - you're there to be entertained... and entertained is what you'll get, guaranteed. So invite your friends over for a good time - this is one movie where you don't have to be drunk to enjoy it!
Excellently filmed, directed, and written. One of the best action films of the 70s, equally as sadistic as any Italian or German "S and M" movies. Scenes of black man being tied and dragged by car make a modern audience VERY uncomfortable! Pam Grier shows it all! I dig the scene with her and the leather chick with the junky girlfriend. Jack Hill should be praised for bringing us the gem of a movie!
if you've always wondered what was so great about Pam Grier, and haven't
seen any of her movies from the seventies, look no further than Coffy.
Coffy has it all, violence, pimps, drugs, nudity, sex, and it's served up
with some severe camp and crazy dialogue. what sets this movie apart from
other blaxploitaion movies is the excellent story and powerful performance
of Miss Grier. I don't think anyone else could have pulled it off, and
despite the low budget ambiance and feeling the movie took about a couple
weeks to make, Grier gives a performance worthy of her cult
the movie is a typical revenge story, with a not so typical hero-a black woman. Coffy's sister is hooked on smack and Coffy vows to herself to destroy the people responsible. Coffy works as a nurse by day, and prowls the clubs by night looking for the pusher who destroyed her sister's mind with drugs. Her search leads her to a pimp, a mobster, the cops, and a politician. In the end, she takes care of them all using her brains as well as her body, and damn do she have a body! Pam Grier makes this movie believable despite the obvious flaws of the low budget production. Her character never shows the weak side of femininity and fall into the ethos that women are at some point weaker than men. Coffy never breaks down to cry for help, waiting for a man or anyone else to help her-she does it all on her own. she kicks ass all over, and no other movie has done that with a female character, at least not anything credible. Coffy makes Thelma and Louise look like Laverne and Shirley.
Pam went on to make more movies of this ilk, but none were as popular nor as good as Coffy. what about Foxy Brown you ask? despite a better title, it doesn't compare to Coffy in either performance or content. Coffy served to bring Pam Grier into the main stream, as much as any black actress could be, and make her a star. all i can say is, thank you Quentin Tarentino for making Jackie Brown and proving her power and presence as an actress. See this movie, then see Jackie Brown, you'll see why Tarentino made it.
What a great film! After seeing "Friday Foster" last week which was a quite disappointment Pam found back to old qualities with this movie! The nerve-straining and tame political correctness of "Friday Foster" is fortunately totally missing, because "Coffy" follows straight up to some unwritten genre laws: the white are the bad guys, black ones the good - that´s how the rules of blaxploitation normally function! The story is simple: nurse Coffy takes revenge for her little sister, who was maltreated by the drug syndicate. Sometimes the film reminded me on Michael Winner´s "Death Wish", however Charles Bronson is a little milk boy in comparison to the tough and sexy Coffy: Pam shows her breasts every five minutes and when she doesn´t she kills a dozens of people instead. The scene when she blows away the head of an evil pimp is next to William Lustig´s "Maniac" the greatest headshot ever featured in a film! Loved also the hilarious girl brawl at the buffet! A great fun flick!!
Coffy may be no real masterpiece, but for its 'type' of movie it was
going for, it doesn't get much better. Aside from Tarantino's Jackie
Brown (of which not only did that filmmaker take license with the 'take
no prisoners' style of Grier, but the best musical pieces as well),
this is Pam Grier's finest turn in what some consider in the
exploitation-movie world as the first 'black-exploitation' classic. But
to say that everything in the film is exploitive of black culture might
be a little far to say. While to be sure the film depicts some of the
black characters with their flamboyant clothing (including things that
are pretty funny today like King George's cape and one-piece suit with
emblem), and it also keeps to the quasi-tenement of this wave of movies
where practically all of the white characters are real drug kingpins or
bad gangsters, there's the fact that Grier's character- through crime
and revenge and all- is just trying, in her mind, to do the best thing
possible. There's also her friend Carter, who is one of the (only)
honest cops in this underground of drugs and gangsters. But then again,
to take such a story to heart would be missing the point
writer/director Hill is after.
Because for its main center of a message, that pushing drugs on people who don't know any better (or do) is wrong to the point of having to take personal action (or standing up for the rights), this is not at all a preachy movie. If anything this is the kind of sexy, cool, violent, hilarious and just plain fun kind of movie-making that could've only come from this small corner of B-movie-making. Right from the start where the guy's head gets blown off, it only gets better with a logic that works like such- the more over-the-top, the better, the more stylish its more appealing, and for every ham-bone acting performance (albeit with a great deal of talent) there's an exciting action scene or fight. But also with this AIP mentality of having lots of hot bodied women (both white and black) in tow with dozens of breasts and other female parts, and the message covered around in stuff that's meant to be really for surface appeal, it takes itself seriously for what it's worth.
Jack Hill is actually, for all intents and purposes, a very fine and under-looked genre-film writer and sometimes gives the dialog an uplift from the trash it could've been. His direction, while sometimes not given enough of what's needed (lights for one thing, just enough to get by it seems), gets the job done. And at the end of the day what most people will remember of the film- aside from the nude girls fight and Sid Haig sporting a red bandanna and a Hispanic accent- is Grier herself. She carries this character with enough appeal to make it known why her cult status is solidified; she's sincere when she's (occassionally) really being herself with what matters to her, but also very sensual, perfectly sneaky, and has that kind of other-worldly heroic spirit that almost makes her like some kind of comic-book hero or something. If for no other reason, Grier makes Coffy still something to check out 30-something years later, and more than just a curio for Jackie Brown fans looking for the roots of that film's success. A-
This is one of the funniest, raunchiest, most enjoyable films I've ever
seen. The screenplay is tight and well-structured, the pace is brisk, and
the soundtrack is memorable. And Ms. Grier has never been better. Watch out
for the razor blades in the afro!!
King George...He's the King!
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