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I went to see this movie expecting to see a big-budget remake of the
original Shaft, and I got it.
This version is a lot more violent than the original, it didn't seem to be in Shaft's style. The pacing and editing in the first half of the movie were fast and smooth. John Singleton did a great job in establishing Shaft's character and the plot. During the second half of the movie (when the action really begins), however, the movie starts to lose it's original slickness.
Samuel L. Jackson is truly a great Shaft, he's probably the only actor out there (besides the great Richard Roundtree) who could pull this off, and he does an excellent job. This time around, though, we don't really see Shaft's "Ladies' Man" side, except for a couple of innuendoes with minor characters. Like I said, Jackson's Shaft is a little too violent (even for a desensitized, Tarantino fan like me). Christian Bale, after playing a cold,rich, psychopathic killer in "American Psycho", plays a...cold, rich, psychopathic killer. He's perfect in his ability to make us feel absolutely no compassion for him. It's impossible not to mention Bustah Rhymes in a small but great role as Shaft's driver/assistant. He provides some of the comic relief, taking some strain off of Jackson.
I thoroughly enjoyed Isaac Hayes' Oscar-Winning theme, which plays throughout the movie.
This Shaft is a great movie for anyone who's a fan of the original, Sam Jackson, or great action movies in general.
Thirty years is a long time to wait to make a sequel, especially when no one
is clamoring for one. Director/Writer/Producer John Singleton decided it
was about time. The result is a solid, but undistinguished crime drama.
The elements of this story have been told so many times that they are
becoming hackneyed. A tough, no-nonsense cop fights evil and corruption to
bring justice to the streets while often disregarding the law. A spoiled
rich kid is trying to get away with murder by hiring a drug dealer to snuff
an eyewitness with the help of a couple of dirty cops. This is not vanguard
Singleton's direction is good in the action sequences (of which there are plenty) and adequate in the dramatic scenes. In this film, he doesn't bring much innovation to the screen, with very straightforward shots and mundane locations. In an overly reverent gesture to the original film, he brings back Richard Roundtree (the original Shaft) as the current Shaft's (Samuel L. Jackson) uncle and mentor. There is also a cameo appearance by Gordon Parks, the director of the original, and of course, Isaac Hayes theme song is back.
The film is elevated from mediocrity by the acting. Samuel L. Jackson is an outstanding actor and slips on the character of this tough, streetwise cop like a tailored glove. When he's bad, he's very very bad and when he is good, he's almost saintly. Christian Bale also gives a fine performance as the despicable rich kid who thinks his wealth puts him above the law. Jeffrey Wright is explosive as the egomaniac drug lord. The supporting actors are also excellent.
This is an entertaining film despite its lack of originality. I rated it a 7/10. Action junkies add a point or two. This film is extremely violent with a high body count.
I liked this one alot-fast moving, funny, crude, violent at times, has the
same old 'sphagetti Western' shooting style where the baddie can't hit the
broadside of a barn with 400 rounds while Shaft takes'em out one shot at a
time, never misses. Enjoyed Jackson in this mucho, this is some fine work by
a kinetic actor in his prime. Vanessa Williams is easy on the eyes and a
smooth actress in her own right, plus you have to give this Jeffrey Wright
guy credit for doing a bang up job as a Puerto Rican(!!) villain(with a
heart, sorta...). Bale as the Menendez Brother from hell is effective too. I
liked Richard Roundtree, Pat Hingle and Gordon Parks' cameos(look fast for
him, as Mr. P in the bar!)
This one isn't meant to be taken too seriously, the car chases and shootouts are right outta anything Dirty Harry has done-but you know, John Singleton sez he intended for this to be a popcorn movie, and I agree, he has hit the bullseye with this.
And that Isaac Hayes score, gotta love it!
*** outta ****, go see it and have fun.
An enjoyable but nevertheless quite silly and average remake of the classic
television show has the new John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) beating up a
white racist (Christian Bale) and getting booted off of the police force.
Everyone in this film is a racist - primarily the whites - and this whole
idea is way too forced. The language and violence is rough, yet the film
itself is quite goofy, with not many good scenes and only a few mediocre
action sequences. The moral is somewhat depressing: if someone wrongs you,
or someone of your race, then beat them up and kill them once they reappear.
Richard Roundtree's cameo helps a bit, but regardless, this SHAFT is still
only "good" at best.
Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having the time of his movie acting life
portraying the title character in `Shaft,' John Singleton's take on the
groundbreaking classic that, on its release in 1971, served as the
for all the `blaxploitation' films that filled theatres throughout the
and mid 1970's. Unfortunately, the concept of a rogue black cop, defying
the rules and doing things his own way, is not as fresh as it was back in
the time of the original film, so this new version of `Shaft' has less to
recommend it. Still, it is an efficient police procedural, filled with
crowd-pleasing moments of adrenalin-pumping melodrama, hissable villains
a wisecracking, kickass hero who seems virtually indestructible just the
way we like our heroes to be in a movie like this.
Singleton pays affectionate homage to the original film in many ways. Jackson actually plays the nephew of the original Shaft and, indeed, Richard Roundtree makes a cameo appearance early on in the film as Jackson's seasoned mentor. Singleton wisely uses the original Isaac Hayes recording of the hit song as background for the film's opening credit sequence and backs up many of the action scenes with an impressive instrumental interpretation as well.
The story offers little that is new for this particular genre whose films often rise or fall based on the quality of the foils against whom the hero must ultimately contend. Luckily, the filmmakers are blessed with not just one but two impressive villains Jeffrey Wright as Peoples Hernandez, a tough talking thug who wants to expand out of the little neighborhood kingdom he has established into the big time of upper class drug dealing, and Christian Bale as Walter Wade, Jr., the racist, spoiled-brat son of a New York City magnate whose hate crime killing of an innocent black man sets the plot in motion and serves as fodder for Shaft's personal vendetta. Bale proves definitively that the quality of subtle, soul-cringing evil he brought to his role in `American Psycho' was no fluke and that he can be as effective in a big budget extravaganza like this one as he is in a smaller scale, far more quirky work like `Psycho.' Vanessa Williams, on the other hand, who plays Shaft's partner and who is almost unrecognizable buried under a dark beret, fails to distinguish herself either in her role or in her performance.
Then we have Mr. Jackson himself. Here is a man who slides so effortlessly into the role that, despite the absurdity and incredibility of much that is going on around him, we never question the film's veracity for a moment. Whether tossing off wisecracks, shooting at unarmed criminals, pounding defenseless suspects into insensibility or consoling distraught witnesses, Shaft remains forever a hero, acting out the impulses we in the audience feel but are never able to fully act upon in our daily lives. Thus, this new `Shaft' works best as simpleminded good vs. evil melodrama and even the most sophisticated movie watcher can use a bit of that once in a while.
"Shaft 2000" is a reasonable successor to the original Shaft of 29 years ago. The film shows restraint by keeping Shaft big, but not bigger than life, as it tries to be a human story first and an action flick second. Unfortunately, in spite of good performances (especially by Wright) and good production talent, the story fails on the human level and hedges on the obvious alternative of exaggerated good and bad guys and a profusion of gratuitous violence, sex, and action. Worth a watch but keep expectations low.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This review is written as a defence of John Singleton's 'homage' to the
2000 edition of Shaft. The majority of people that I know (6 in all)
use similar terms when referring to it: average, mediocre,
I-hate-Busta-Rhymes etcetera. However, it actually isn't average or
mediocre at all (although Busta Rhymes is indeed a complete tool.)
Sure, the story is linear, predictable and doesn't bring anything new
to a tired genre (Racial injustice! Rogue cops! Black attitude!) but
one has to see past that to the performances, because that's where the
real gold lies. Well, three performances to be precise. First, Samuel
L. Jackson. Though his roles may lack a certain amount of vicissitude,
they are always entertaining. And he seems to restrain himself as the
"sex machine to all the chicks." He doesn't actually have sex at all
throughout the film, which I see as a good thing. As Shaft, he receives
most of the animated and colourful dialogue, kills the most bad guys
technically murder seeing as he resigns from the police force at the
beginning), and gets to wear nine different varieties of the same
jacket, all the while looking effortlessly cool. Plus he throws a
police badge into a wall... really fast! Second, Christian Bale. It is
no secret that Bale is now objectively the best actor of his
generation, but come the dawn of the new millennium he had yet to
present himself to a wider audience. Unfortunately, Shaft failed to do
so too. However, is performance is superb. Following on from his
equivocal turn as Norman Bates in American Psycho (2000), Bale
continues his villainous streak as Walter Wade, Jr, a truly horrible
character whose racial attack in a restaurant provides the basis for
the story. Really the only word that can describe Wade is "a$$hole" and
Bale plays this role perfectly. It is rare that one could despise a
character this much and that is what makes him so fun to watch.
Third, Jeffrey Wright. If Shaft had had a better storyline and been more popular, Wright's portrayal of drug dealer/gang leader Peoples Hernandez would have been his magnum opus. His type of method acting is similar to that of Bale's, and to see them square off against one another is THE principal reason for watching, especially when Wright stabs Bale in the hand. Exciting and bloody. Wright provides entertainment in every scene, whether through his exaggerated walk, his bastardisation of the English language or simply a facial movement. Plus, he induces an element of sympathy for Peoples after his brother is killed at the hands of Shaft (of course) and provokes the audience into wondering whether his eventual demise was really justified. Really, the film should have been called 'Peoples' and he should have had three sequels.
So there it is. A short and unconvincing advocate of Shaft based on three exemplary performances. Oh, and it features Lynne Thigpen, who played the DJ in The Warriors (1979) and as The Warriors is an excellent and highly realistic depiction of New York in the seventies... that means Shaft is also worth watching? Yes it does.
I was surprised that I liked this remake of "Shaft" as much as I did.
It has a wonderful ensemble cast, which included Toni Collette,
Christian Bale, and the terrific, Jeffrey Wright. All of them are
allowed to bring their considerable acting chops to their roles,
especially Bale as a Hateful Rich White Boy from central casting, and
Wright as a simultaneously hilarious and scary gangster. Samuel L.
Jackson plays, well, Samuel L. Jackson, this time cast as Shaft, a
tall, tough, elegant black dude who looks like Samuel L. Jackson not
that there's anything wrong with that.
Don't expect deathless art here but do expect to be entertained. It's one of those movies that is so politically incorrect it makes you gasp while you are laughing. There are lots of explosions, gore, and chases, both afoot and in cars, and it all happens in little more than 90 minutes. It's a lot of fun, highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While the trailers and commercials for this movie made it look really
good, this movie itself is a POS that is openly racist against white
people and the plot itself is nothing more than African American
revenge. Samuel L. Jackson's worst role ever.
1) The villain is a loser white guy who everybody, throughout the entire movie, hates and pushes around, be it the common drunk in the bar, his dad or his partner in crime. In one scene, a black man enters the bar (with a bunch of white chick sycophants no less) and everybody cheers for him. Then our villain white guy makes some vague racist comment and everybody, I mean, every single one in the bar, boos him and try to sooth the black guy whos been insulted. Nothing wrong with that but that way its been portrayed in the movie is so un-subtle, so explicit and is ridiculously intentional. Then the black guy approaches the white guy, almost as if hes gonna beat him up, instead makes two holes in a napkin and puts it on the white guys head as in KKK! YuK YuK YuK. Then everybody, I mean, everybody, once again starts laughing so hard and cheering for our black hero for his oh so innovative come back at the white racist. The white villain is so humiliated that he kills the black guy and absconds.
2) Shaft beats up the villain's white ass and takes him to court. Bad guy uses influence to get bail. Everybody, I mean, every single freaking one who can be seen, cries and boos in disappointment. Shaft resigns by embarrassingly throwing his badge at the judge.
3) The rest of the plot is about Shaft trying to locate an eyewitness, brotha style, beating up white boys along the way.
4) The white guy is shot in the end by the black martyr's mom. More attempts at drama gone bad.
I'm not even white myself but this movie is so explicitly racist that anyone of any race would find it an utter embarrassment to watch. All the drama of blaxploitation is so fake and so insincere that it makes me want to puke. There are no redeeming qualities about this movie too. The action sucks and the dialogue, trying to be badass, is utterly embarrassing. One of the worst movies ever made.
This comes so far after the original "Shaft" in 1971 you might hesitate to call it a sequel. It's more like a revival, or a nostalgic time trip. Except that it's all been updated nicely, with a feeling of the original sassiness intact. And the Isaac Hayes music is central, and terrific, making this a legit Shaft movie.
Samuel Jackson plays the role perfectly, not pulling back and not overdoing it. The idea of a black cop in a city that still has racial biases, in this case emphasizing the rise of Latino drug lords as part of the fracturing, is mainstreamed here. It's not as daring or shocking to see this pushed forward, but it's still effective. Shaft, the main character (who never seems to have a first name), is powerful, smart, and unwilling to be pushed around by authority. Even if it means losing his job (or quitting--Shaft is always the one making his own choices).
The director, John Singleton, is not especially well positioned for a mainstream sequel with high production values (his one famous effort to date is "Boyz n the Hood"), but he pulls it off. This is a snappy, smart, well made movie. It's oddly mainstream, playing with clichés too easily, working with bad guy good guy tenets adding only the minor twist of racial or ethnic alliances, though even these we've seen before. You can't help but see "Jackie Brown" from three years earlier as a far more interesting, well made, and timely movie. That one was by Quentin Tarantino, which changes the score a bit, but it starred Jackson, again, and makes the most of him.
You might say Singleton makes the most of Jackson here, too, but a better way to look at it is that Jackson makes the most of Singleton. He takes over the movie, and it's a good thing. He has talent and presence in a classic Hollywood acting way. The cast around him is really strong, which is nice. (There is a cameo by the original director of the 1971 "Shaft," Gordon Parks, in a bar scene, if you are lucky--a white haired older black man at the table.)
The other terrific actor is Jeffrey Wright, playing a drug king with enough realism and panache to make it real and glitzy both. The third main character is the future Batman, Christian Bale, who is a great bad guy and who you actually miss in the last parts of the movie.
What really brings this down to earth, and too much so, is the story, which is boilerplate stuff. There is machismo, and guns, and a play of one bad guy against another, and one cop against another. You might say, hey, isn't there room for more cop and crime movies that work in familiar circles? Yes. But I again refer to "Jackie Brown" as a way to see out of this box.
This new "Shaft" is good stuff--it's well acted, tightly edited, directed with professional canny (noticeable in lots of different ways), and brings up racial clichés in a fun and even important way. It descends by the last third into overused chase and shoot scenes between cops and robbers. But...it's better than its reputation, for sure. I say see it. Enjoy the attitudes. The acting. And the homage to the original.
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