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Firstly, it is wrong to associate this alongside any of the Shaft series. The VHS reissue (in EP mode) is evidently retitled to fortify it on the retail shelves. Roundtree is entirely cast different, and fans of Shaft will be disappointed that he doesn't even wear a mustache in the film. Rather, "Diamonds" is one of those action/caper films that seem to fit very comfortably in the 70's. It's hardly jaw-dropping material, but Golan (of the Cannon film group) invested well into this accurately sketched story.
The location work on "Diamonds" is superb and justly highlighted. The story starts in Europe but is mostly in the streets, neighborhoods and buildings of Israel, which is somewhat unusual for an "exotic" locale. There's plenty of local flavor injected into the story, and the location plays a big part in the tension of the plot- Israeli police using their own means to track down an international thief and an ominous London businessman. Roundtree is superb, still shining in the Shaft afterglow and Shaw is as consistent as ever (even in the iffy double-casting job). Unfortunately, the women do not fare so well- Barbara Hershey (as Barbara Seagull) whines at Roundtree's character throughout half the film about some unclear relationship issues. And Shelly Winters is...... uhhhhh, well, Shelly Winters as she portrays a lukewarm bit of comedic relief. She plays a stereotype American Jewish woman visiting Israel on a tour to buy diamonds. A peripheral character at best, it could be said that her character exists merely to parody the common Israeli/American tourist. Nonetheless, the action and details of this thriller are the fenceposts here and they hold together a remarkably good 70's flick. The soundtrack, which might at times see more recognition than the film, is composed by cult composer Roy Budd (Get Carter, Stone Killer, etc) and The Three Degrees. It too has been reissued. Overall, it's a nice surprise and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys 70's action cinema or borderline Black action.
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