Thursday, May 23, 2019

Shaft's Big Score

Hey folks I have returned. Yeah it has been awhile since these reviews were back to back but I am just managing time better. Wibbly Wobbly aside, today I wanted to delve back into Blaxploitation and clear up a misnomer. One being today's film is the direct sequel to the private dick that's a sex machine and NOT Shaft in Africa. Yeah I know I have heard otherwise. Look at your chronology sucka or Hell just get on IMDB that surprisingly has this one under wraps. So yes we are getting a dose of Richard Roundtree being a bad mother once again. This is Shaft's Big Score.

He's undercover.

Not to be confused with Score's Big Shaft. Yeah not proud of writing porn but it pays the bills. Is he kidding? Figure it out yourselves. Nutty idea you could always ask when you put in film requests. 

 Shaft (Richard Roundtree of Portrait of a Hitman, Game for Vultures, City Heat, Maniac Cop, Night Visitor, Crack House, Roc, Se7en, Rescue 77, Shaft and Soul Food) is back in the streets, doing his thang when he gets wind of a racketing gig out of a friend Cal (Robert Kya-Hill of Shaft's Big Score, Death Wish, Lou Grant, Good times, Ryan's Hope and Sue) business being a funeral parlor. Trying to reach our protagonist on the horn (My guess he's all tuckered out from whatever girls he was with that night) and tell Shaft his plight. It's definitely more than a boggle.

Worried about his sister Arna (Rosalind Miles of Shaft's Big Score, The Black Six, Girls for Rent, The Manhandlers, Attack on Terror: The FBI vs.the Ku Klux Klan and Friday Foster) he asks Shaft to keep her safe and meet him at his office. With a serious bomb explosion, the Captain of the precinct, Brolin(Julius Harris of Live and Let Die, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, King Kong, Split Decisions, Darkman, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence and The Gifted) is grilling Shaft while his buddy Cal has been char broiled. Not cool, brah.

This is for getting more booty than us!

Once again directed by the late great Gordon Parks (Flavio, The World of Piri Thomas, The Learning Tree, Shaft, The Super Cops, Leadbelly and Moments Without Proper Names) so we are in good hands. A quick moment to talk about this amazing man, Parks was a photographer and reporter for Life Magazine in 1948-1949, is godfather to Quibilah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X , co-founder of Essence Magazine and alongside Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback's Baadassssss Song, Don't Play Us Cheap, Gang in Blue, Tales of Erotica and Bellyful) are the founding fathers of Blaxploitation. Yeah babies, that is heavy.

Back to the movie under the MGM title, we are making away through Harlem, Laguardia and New York Manhattan proper as this mystery is just getting started. Hey am I wrong wanting Fred Williamson and Richard Roundtree to either team-up or have to duke it out? Shaft is trying to work out what brought this down on his buddy and solve his murder but more than a few bumps are in the road. Including mob boss Bumpy (Moses Gunn of Wild Rovers, Shaft’s Big Score!, The Cowboys, Rollerball, Good Times and Vega$) rears his head out of the sand as it would appear $200,000 is unaccounted for and Bumpy wants a payday. The funeral proceeds on schedule, Shaft and Arna get back to the house finding it tossed looking for the missing dough.

Those pigs call me booty?

To make matters worse, a rival crime boss, Gus Mascola (Joseph Mascolo of Hot Spur, Shaft's Big Score, Jaws 2, Bronk, Gangster Wars, Sharky's Machine, The Gangster Chronicles. Santa Barbara, General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives) was in bed with Asby's partner Johnny Kelly (Wally Taylor of Roots, When a Stranger Calls, Palmertown, U.S.A., Circle of Power, Rocky III, Seduced and Night of the Creeps) tells da boss the 200 gees is in the wind. With the property being in Harlem this can only lead to a gang war.

Even after the death of his partner, Kelly is running numbers on sports gambling and it's business as usual. His runners are out and about. So classy is our boy Kelly slaps his girl Rita (Kathy Imrie of Shaft's Big Score, Let's Go for Broke, Night Heat, Street Legal, Street Law, Shadow Creature, Soul Food and Doc) for speaking while he's scheming and sweating out dealing with the Italians.
No sooner he has a sit down with Mascola, Kelly is already thinking of bringing the action to Bumpy. Maybe the hope is the rub each other (Not that erotic way, ya pervs) and then the landscape is clear for Kelly to cruise on through. Yeah fellas there is plenty of T & A to go with this action packed film. Oh ladies, they were gonna ask. It was inevitable.

Can Shaft get out of this one? Will Bumpy get his just due? Will Kelly be hanging from a lamp post?

With a budget of 1.9 million, the mechanics of the cinematography have vastly improved, getting the same screenplay writer Ernest Tidyman back and the sheer larger scale of this flick felt like a Bond movie. Hell even the original posters gave that vibe. We got helicopter chases, car chases, gunfights and even a good boat chase.  Issac Hayes does not come back for his iconic Shaft theme as apparently he and Gordon had a falling out.

Finally saw a High Standard Model 10 bullpup 12 gauge. Something I haven't seen since Jame Caan's Thief and Miami Vice. 12 gauge, five round capacity and it's semi-automatic. Awesome cannon.

So yes this is a good solid sequel. Not truly a stand alone film as it does rely heavily on the predecessor but still a good follow-up, decent lines and Shaft being a total bad ass.

Bad mutha with a boomstick!

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