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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Shaft in Africa
Shaft in Africa
Warner Bros.
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted July 2, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

The first Shaft film is a remarkable achievement. While folks generally focus on its infectious, Oscar-winning theme song, the movie itself is a watershed event that goes beyond mere nostalgia. It was the first major picture to show a strong, black lead who didn't bend to anyone's will other than his own. He wasn't a smiling shoe-shine boy. Not a ghetto thug. He was a true action hero who could be your best friend or your worst enemy. A misconception is that John Shaft was all about black rage. That's only partially true. Yes, Shaft is quick to deliver a whuppin to those who show him disrespect. But it doesn't matter what COLOR you are. You cross Shaft, or his friends, and it's your ass. White, brown or pink. The film helped cement the "blaxploitation" genre, which basically rose from the thirst of inner-city audiences for movies made by and for blacks (though the term doesn't mean black actors were exploited.) And Shaft DID save MGM's financial neck. It was a box office smash that fanned a firestorm of black-themed pictures, and even Charlie Bronson got into the vigilante biz with Death Wish. The original Shaft was followed by two sequels, Shaft's Big Score!, Shaft in Africa (1973, 112 minutes) and a short-lived TV series. For now, let's focus on Numero Three-o.

The movie: John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) gets drugged by a fella in a dashiki. He wakes up nekkid and meets this African big wig who talks him into going overseas to get the dirt on some slimeballs who smuggle cheap labor from Africa into Europe. John's not easily convinced, until the lovely Aleme (Vonetta McGee) offers to school him on tribal customs. Besides doing a little something for Shaft, she likes to say "clitoridectomy" a lot. Oh, and the modern-day slave trader, Amafi (Frank Finlay), has a real slutty girlfriend -- you can tell she's a dirty girl, cuz she smokes a cigar and pants like a greyhound when she sees a group of sweaty road workers. But I'll get back to her later. Shaft travels undercover, putting aside his firearms, in favor of the traditional walking stick/skull splitter. The movie's plot is pretty linear, following his travels, gathering bits of evidence, and foiling attempts on his life along the way. Out are the first two films writer and director. In their place are director John Guillermin who made TWO King Kong remakes. And screenwriter Stirling Silliphant, who had Amafi's girlfriend ask, "How long is your phallus, Mr. Shaft?"

Notables: 13 breasts (mostly National Geographic style). 25 corpses. Tranquilizer dart attack. Exploding car. Sun lamp roasting. Multiple stick fights. Burning truck. One lion. Gratuitous urination. One dead dog. Neck snapping. Arm breaking. Biting. Machine gun attack. Gratuitous James Bond reference. One road pizza. Exploding dungeon. Electrocution.

Quotables: Aleme on her towering chaperon, "Ossiat has guarded me since I was a child. Sometimes I think of him as my chastity belt." A frustrated Shaft, "Damn! A man that size, baby. That's a whole lot of chastity." Shaft undercover in the desert, "No ride camel. Ride ass." And in Paris when he's finally seen enough, "[email protected]&! the law! What does the law do about the [email protected]#&heads who charge 100 francs a month to stay in a craphouse like this?! Why don't you really clamp down on the slave trade? I'll tell you why! Because the black ghetto of Paris is as far away from the Champs Elysees as 125th Street is from Park Avenue. You need a bunch of poor bastards to work on your roads and in your goddamn kitchens! So, don't lay any of that law-will-punish-him [email protected]#%! on me!"

Time codes: Shaft fights bare-ass nekkid, but have a look at this angle, where he's wearing his blue sweatpants (12:52). The slave trader's girlfriend, Jazar (Neda Arneric), shares her spectacular talents (1:17:00). That's it! Time to whup some ass! (1:36:45).

Audio/Video: Excellent widescreen (2.35:1) print and fullframe version on flip side. Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Extras: Trailers for each of the Shaft films. Brief bio. Theme plays over main menu.

Final thought: Violence. Sex. Times three. My favorite sequel. It was a gutsy move to take Shaft out of Gotham, and the gamble paid off. Highly recommended.

Check out CineSchlock-O-Rama
for additional reviews and bonus features.

G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

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