I wasn’t even a teenager when John Singleton’s SHAFT came into theaters, but in the months leading up to that remake, my friends and I could not be more excited. We all knew the theme song, and some of us had even seen Gordon Parks’ original, but the idea of Samuel L. Jackson gearing up as the legendary character seemed like pure cool on a stick. The flick didn’t set the world on fire, but it did respectable B.O. (the on-set problems on that were probably as responsible for the lack of a follow-up as anything else), it holds up surprisingly well, and the character’s name still remains synonymous with ‘70s tough-guy attitude, black pride, and pimp-as-hell leather jackets.
So it doesn’t surprise me that a SHAFT reboot is in the works. The rights have apparently bounced around from MGM to Warner (who handled the SHAFT home video releases) over to Paramount (who did the remake) and now back to Warner, via subsidiary New Line. The studio is developing the property with John Davis, head of Davis Entertainment and producer of stuff like PREDATOR, THE FIRM, CHRONICLE, and the first of two underrated films titled THE HUNTED (his was the Christopher Lambert ninjas vs. samurai one).
The Wrap claims that “it’s unclear whether New Line’s reboot will continue the Shaft lineage or start from scratch,” but the whole notion of a “reboot” implies that they won’t be keeping franchise continuity. If you remember, SHAFT 2000 was something of a direct sequel, with Richard Roundtree dishing out advice and picking up chicks from the sidelines as “Uncle John.” I’d be surprised if either Roundtree or Jackson showed up as their respective characters, but considering how much Jackson likes to pop up and have fun in the background these days, it’s not at all out of the question.
One thing’s for sure: they got to find a new John Shaft. Who would be a good 2015 incarnation of the complicated man whom no one understands but his woman? A proven badass like Idris Elba? Awards grabbers like Chiwetel Ejiofor or David Oyelowo? The dude who took the piss out of flicks like SHAFT with BLACK DYNAMITE, Michael Jai White? Maybe even Singleton’s original choice Don Cheadle??
You know who’d be really cool though? Wendell Pierce. Yeah, Bunk from THE WIRE. You know it to be true.
Just…no musicians, please?