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SHAFT (2000) review

When you have to make a movie that is sure to rock every ass in the house accept no substitute. Hehehehe

That should’ve been the tagline on this badass friggin movie. HOLY CHRIST this film rocked from start to finish for me tonight.

Alright, here we go....

As a reward for 4 damn fine reports filed, I decided to swing by Sister Satan’s house to take her out to see SHAFT tonight.

I had very reserved expectations walking into the theater. I had heard fairly mixed reactions to the film thus far... however, the closer the film got... the better the word. Singleton was rumored to be doing reshoots. And with each test the film was scoring better.

Then earlier this week Darth Siskel wrote an absolute flying RAVE of the film. Now... I’ve disagreed in the past with a couple of his reviews (though mostly I agree), so I wasn’t quite sure what I would think walking in.

I was telling my sister and Father Geek that I felt that Sam would carry the film for me and that the rest of the film is probably pretty weak. And I did a lot of shit and pissing about what a shitty summer lot of films we have thus far... and how the hell anyone could make a crappy SHAFT movie with Sam Jackson would be beyond me.


This is the type of film that when you walk out of the theater after the film, you feel that you are actually moving cooler than you were when you walked in.

John Singleton has made a completely different feeling hardcore action film that feels like some sort of American Urban Black John Woo Hong Kong Bullet Ballet that just starts kicking your ass and just does not stop.

I absolutely unreservedly love, with every fiber of my being, this movie. This is that type of bullet in the head, badass violent as hell, cool as all getup character film that made Woo famous.

First off... the number one reason this movie completely busted the shit out of my face and left me stunned.... JEFFREY WRIGHT! Bet you expected me to say Sam Jackson didn’t you?

Don’t get me wrong... Sam is the fucking man in this movie... But we all knew that walking into this deal. What 99% of everyone is not even expecting is that they will see an absolutely unforgettable performance out of Jeffrey Wright as Peoples Hernandez. He is frigging INVISIBLE in the film. Not for ONE SINGLE SECOND did I realize that Peoples was actually one of my favorite unheralded black actors. Back about 4 or 5 years, I became a big fan of Jeffrey Wright after his fantastic performance as Basquiat. Then in last year’s turd of a western, Jeffrey played a slave fighting on the side of the South. He was the single greatest thing about RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, and if you go back and check my review, you’d see that I was raving about the guy.

HOWEVER, nothing prepared me for his AMAZING performance as Peoples Hernandez. One... his make-up was amazing. I mean... Dear God... I never thought for a second that Peoples was played by anyone other than a full blood Puerto Rican or some great unknown Latino. The vocal patterns, the body language, the under the breath Spanish phrases... 100%... PERFECT.

Now, what makes Peoples Hernandez great is that he is without a doubt a perfectly developed Bad Guy. For one... He doesn’t think he’s the bad guy. He’s just providing a living for himself and his familia. He’s just a neighborhood drug lord. Nothing big... nothing flashy. He’s the sort of thug that would hang chandeliers all over the place because it’s classy. He carries an icepick with him.

He’s a machismo mean mutherfucker. He doesn’t want no piece of the law. He just wants to sell his smack and live in peace... But when the shit hits the fan... He will not hesitate to kill everyone in his way.

Now... I’m gonna leave that at that. Trust me. Jeffrey Wright delivers a character that will be one of those roles that we’ll carry with us for a couple of years. And the way he uses that fucking icepick... dear God. Just... damn... Just do not screw with this guy. I mean... jesus.

Now.... basically this is a simple... Crime is committed. Bad guy caught dead to rights. Witness runs. Search for witness. Beat bad guys to witness and protect the witness type of story.

And at the beginning... I thought... HMMM... Sam Jackson vs Christian Bale eh? Hmmmmm... Christian Bale is sooooo gonna get his ass kicked. But then... This Jeffrey Wright character starts getting involved... and then there’s all sorts of corruption... and then the body count begins.

Now this isn’t no fucking pussy out bullet ballet like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2. Here... Without really ape-ing Woo... Singleton and his editors and dp have created spectacular hard core violence. I mean... Blood just flies every which way. Heavy duty head shots, blood sprays and... man... it just gets hard as hell.


In the very best of the Hong Kong epics, Shaft has pathos and motivations. The bad guys are all motivated as all hell. Everyone moves cool, every gun shot reverbs through your chest.

There is a point where this film turns a corner, and man... it flies.

Now... before that corner, the film is ENTERTAINING AS HELL! Why? Because Sam ‘the man’ Jackson is literally the coolest man walking the earth.

And in this film... HE HAS NEVER BEEN COOLER! Why? Because...

David Arnold has written a completely divine score based completely upon the sound created in Isaac Hayes brilliant SHAFT theme. He plays it just like John Williams JAWS theme. Every moment that Sam is set to just let loose on some poor deserving fucker... all of a sudden it’s all...

‘bump da bum da bump da bump!”

And you are sitting there in your seat just thinking.... “Man, Shaft is gonna fuck your shit up!!! hahahahha!!! Oh yeah... Take that!!! Oh yeah... hahahahahaha Fucking A!!!!”

As soon as that badge comes off him... He’s turned a corner. Suddenly he is liable to pistol whip every last tooth out of a guy while screaming, “What’s my fucking name?!?!?!!?”

Now... as for Christian Bale... he’s perfect in that... oh... Remember the guy trying to score with Holly in DIE HARD... the sleazy rich coke snorting dweeb who negotiates tougher deals before breakfast? I think his character was named Ellis... In fact yeah, that’s exactly what it was. Well Bale is like a bigger meaner more weaselly version of him. In a way, he’s still Patrick Bateman... but amazingly because it’s not just his schtick for 2 hours, and he is supported with a brilliant selection of cool ass people and terrific action, thrills, sounds and motions... He works perfectly. But he is nowhere near the driving force I thought he was made out to be by the pre-hype on the film.

This film firmly belongs to Jeffrey Wright and Sam Jackson.

For all of us Hong Kong geeks that have been wondering what the translation to America would be. Remember when Robert Rodriguez was talking about when he was thinking of making EL MARIACHI and he was talking about how he wanted to make Mexicans as cool as Chow Yun Fat?

Well just think... Singleton is starting off with SAM JACKSON. Already one of the coolest beings ever seen on the planet. Well, John has created the ultimate Black Superhero here. I mean, Sam’s SHAFT is a complete bad mofo.

Sure... there isn’t any real sex in the film for Shaft... but you know what... this isn’t the original Shaft. This movie kicks that film’s ass. I like the original Shaft, but always thought it paled next to SUPERFLY....

Actually... the movie that this MOST reminds me off is DIRTY HARRY. But completely different in all aspects EXCEPT that Sam Jackson is everybit as good as SHAFT as Eastwood was as Harry. And... Jeffrey Wright is everybit as good as Peoples as Andrew Robinson was as Scorpio.

And you know what’s weird. The original SHAFT came out the same year as DIRTY HARRY... and both of them came out the same year that I did. 1971.

FINALLY... After a month of subpar flicks, I have my badass summer film. See, as much as I like GLADIATOR.... This just has that funky as hell sound that will be driving me to take multiple friends over and over to this one.

Somebody... tell Jeffrey and Sam.... Way to fucking go Man! Now... Singleton... Let’s see this as a trilogy of badass films. Each one even tougher and meaner than the one before... till you get to that last film.... and you release it as a ultrahard NC-17 God-fearing epic of coolness. heheheh...

If you liked HARD BOILED, THE KILLER, DIRTY HARRY, POINT BLANK, A BETTER TOMORROW, KISS ME DEADLY, THE LIMEY, etc.... This is the movie to put that rhythm in your step again. IT RULES!

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