Written by / 11/11/2014 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , ,

GOTTA BRAND NEW BAGFUL OF BLAXPLOITATION

Year: 1973
BLACK CAESAR: Begins much like GOODFELLAS would years later: showing a shoeshine errand boy working for the mob... Then as Tommy Gibbs grows up, becoming Fred Williamson, his rep excels from hit man to head honcho in flowing style and motion, thanks to writer/director Larry Cohen who, as usual, needs little money for big effect.

But it's halfway through, after a relative's sudden death, that the film snags with melodramatic repose, somewhat reviving itself when Gibbs, wounded, goes after his lifelong enemy: not an easy task for our surprisingly vulnerable hero played by Williamson, whose performance excels his usual tough guy womanizing bravado, especially during an intense reunion with his estranged father. And last but not least, James Brown's soulful soundtrack is like a character in itself.

1974 ***
WILLIE DYNAMITE: Beyond the funky storytelling theme song, filling us in on the pimp who has everything: girls, money, fancy clothes, a great ride, and lots of bread... there's a deep film about real people: one a pimp named Willie Dynamite, the other a social worker, and former prostitute, Cora (the late Diana Sands), trying to save Willie's main girl.

It's not until the very end that Cora's stubborn drive and ultimate goal, which felt melodramatic and overdone during most of the picture, becomes completely clear. Although it's a bit confusing as to why everyone else, including cops and fellow pimps, strive so hard for Willie's downfall. Ironically enough, with a movie with such a gloriously vivid title, it's this man's possible redemption that matters more than those shiny threads.

1975 **1/2
BUCKTOWN: Fred Williamson visits a small town to bury his brother and sell off his dive bar. Turns out brother didn't die naturally, and Bucktown's run by a gaggle of racist white cops... are there any other kind in Blaxploitation!

Williamson calls in his best friend, city thug Thalmus Rasulala, and along with three goons (including Carl Weathers and Roger E. Mosely) they save the town... only to take it over, making things even worse (call this the black VIGILANTE FORCE). And so now Williamson, along with sexy Pam Grier, have a big fight on their hands: and it's a personal battle in this semi solid fare with bouts of good action, but can be frustratingly sluggish when the bullets aren't flying.

1983 ***
THE BIG SCORE: Not to be confused with SHAFT'S BIG SCORE, this Afro Noir is a crime drama with a deliberately slow pace: thus when the action happens, it matters.

Fred Williamson writes, directs and stars as an undercover cop framed for stealing heist money and even his fellow officers (John Saxon, Richard Roundtree) question his innocence. So he goes about proving himself, infiltrating the mob run by Joe Spinell and psychotic henchman Bruce Glover, in this mellow vehicle that builds suspense nicely, never going overboard except a few occasions when thugs get literally blown to bits. But that's always welcome... and reminds us of the 70's blaxploitation genre that this BIG SCORE attempts to reignite.

1974 ***1/2
BLACK SAMSON: The ghetto's answer to Bufford Pussar, the lawman from the WALKING TALL films, this isn't an actual sheriff but a fictional bar owner fitfully named Samson, played by mellow giant Rockne Tarkington.

Big Sam owns a lion and wields a big stick while running his tavern and also the entire block/neighborhood that he won't give up to vicious mobster William Smith, whose scene-stealing and downright unrelenting performance elevates this already near-excellent blaxploitation to even greater heights: leading to a giant vs giant battle on a boulevard that's eventually demolished to Biblical proportions.

1982 ***
THE NEW BARBARIANS: In a post-apocalyptic 2019, the world's a desert with plastic steel-feigning armored cars and motorcycles driven by nomads known as "Templars," hunting down the few survivors with laser guns or blades extended from vehicles BEN HUR style.

Calling this a bad movie is pointless, and it's a futuristic exploitation with one blaxploitation element, mentioned soon: BARBARIANS is very low-budget and the acting isn't great, but director Enzio G. Castellari keeps the action rolling from start to finish. Giancarlo Prete makes for a good Mad Maxian hero, keeping a solid scowl and swatting baddies like bugs. Throw in... drum roll please... Fred Williamson as a bow-wielding maverick keeping Prete alive from the sidelines, a tough and sexy damsel, two bickering villains, and the promise of a lost civilization: and this Z-movie will hold your interest... and then some.

1973 **1/2
CLEOPATRA JONES: With limitless villainous potential, the always-watchable and interesting Shelley Winters, as a lesbian mobster bitch chewing scenery while chewing out her minions, isn't on screen enough: making the plight of Cleopatra Jones, a tall, black, badass and beautiful Special Agent, a bit too breezy.

Although there's decent action, including a fantastic car chase in a sewer wash/ditch, one of the first of its kind, and topnotch talent like Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, Michael Warren and Cult Film Freak favorite heavy Paul Koslo, our slender heroine needs more "flesh": perhaps a backstory on how she became what the baddies fear, giving the audience something deeper to root for.

1974 rating: ***
FOXY BROWN: While there are some classic lines, one spoken by Foxy Brown's trouble-making brother played by Antonio Fargas: "That's my sister, baby, and she's a whole lotta woman." Or Pam Grier, about to take on a rival, claiming, "I've got my blackbelt in barstools", this is a somewhat sub-par collaboration of writer/director Jack Hill and leading lady Pam Grier, dwelling too much on Foxy's frustration and not enough kickass action.

The villains seem out of a daytime soap, while our heroine's reason for payback... her boyfriend, who just got a miraculously banal face-altering surgery you only see in movies, is killed by a lethal syndicate... doesn't equal the far superior COFFY, which made better use of Pam Grier, Sid Haig, and everything else the blaxploitation genre depends on: including pushers, hookers, bad whities, and sweet revenge.

Yet despite the flaws, blaxploitation auteur Jack Hill seems cozy in his low budget element, remaining more on cruise control than overdrive. The opening credits alone, turning a strutting infrared silhouette of Grier into a female James Bond type, is worth the watch. Just don't take any of it seriously, or expect the second half to equal the buildup.

year: 1973 rating: ****
COFFY: Ah yes, the crowning achievement of revenge-driven blaxploitation has Pam Grier taking out anyone involved in drug dealing after her younger sister's hospitalized for "bad heroin." This provides a platform where everything's possible, giving our sexy heroine free reign to seek and destroy.

Sid Haig adds vitality as a tough hit man who meets his match with Grier, who's just as vulnerable as lethal, especially since her dream man, a climbing politician, might not be what, and who, he seems. While the usual blaxploitation elements, including battling naked chicks and pimp's bright clothing, are used within the story, never seeming campy or gratuitous. And the soundtrack's filler-funk is incredible, so much that Quentin Tarantino "borrowed" it for his own masterpiece starring Pam Grier and featuring Sid Haig... JACKIE BROWN!

year: 1974 rating: *1/2
SAVAGE SISTERS: Most low-budget exploitation films shot in the Philippines aren't perfect, but are still entertaining. This one, despite Gloria Hendry's cool performance as a tough army sergeant teamed-up with two white revolutionary babes trying to overthrow a villainous dictator, is, alas... pointless fodder.

The pacing's slow and there's too much banter about what's about to happen, and little actually does. The editing seems victim of the same machetes used by the bag guys: Speaking of which, even BIG BIRD CAGE alumni Sid Haig and Vic Diaz, as goofy yet treacherous banditos, can't revive this ninety-minute slug trail, but both try really hard and are fun to watch nonetheless: especially if a plot doesn't matter and scantily clad gorgeous chicks with guns is what you're looking for... SAVAGE SISTERS will do. Just turn off the sound and open your eyes wide!

1974 rating: ***1/2
THREE TOUGH GUYS: The actual title is TOUGH GUYS and was then changed to THREE TOUGH GUYS after Fred Williamson, who plays a small but important role as the villain, gained popularity and the title song mentions TWO TOUGH GUYS, being that the film centers mainly on imported Italian star Lino Ventura as a renegade, revenge-seeking, ten-speed riding priest who teams with rogue cop Isaac Hayes.

The strange pair hop from arcade to bar to empty warehouse beating up baddies or getting beat up, kidnapped, or both. Lightweight find-the-killer plot blends neatly with sporadic, swift-paced action occurring between unimportant bouts of dubbed, but somewhat involving, dialogue. And fans of Hayes the composer: if you want some superb instrumental music, check out Isaac's DOUBLE FEATURE: TRUCK TURNER AND THREE TOUGH GUYS, both albums full of soulful/jazzy/funky/rocking orchestrations far superior than the generic versions often used within either vehicle. 
CLICK THIS LINK FOR ANOTHER BIG BAGFUL OF JIM KELLY BLAXPLOITATION
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Featured Post

FROM 'MADMAN OF MANDORAS' TO 'THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN'

The Madman of Mandoras Years: 1963 into Hitler's Brain: 1968 Well someone out there knew the title THEY SAVED SATAN'S BRAIN, a ...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Most Popular Last Year

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews & Pop Culture ranging from White Heat to Blue City

FOR TELEVISION REVIEWS

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "Maybe you need a moll more than you need a wife who you can't trust with your secrets." Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman to Walter White, Breaking Bad

Blog Archive

ETERNAL ART OF FILM NOIR

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

MOVIES 1)THE FEARMAKERS 2)JAWS 3)THE CROWDED SKY 4)HOT CARS 5)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 6)VIOLENT SATURDAY 7)ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD 8)THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 9)CANYON PASSAGE 10)SHARKS' TREASURE 11)AIR PATROL 12)EASY LIVING 13)CURSE OF THE DEMON 14)HARDCORE 15)WICHITA 16)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 17)KILLER FISH 18)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 19)WHITE HEAT 20)FALLEN ANGEL 21)AL CAPONE 22)THE SERGEANT 23)THE DEFECTOR 24)CANYON RIVER 25)WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS

ACTORS 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)MARLON BRANDO 4)ORSON WELLES 5)JACK NICHOLSON 6)PETER O'TOOLE 7)TOM COURTENAY 8)CHARLES BRONSON 9)GENE HACKMAN 10)STEVE COCHRAN DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)STANLEY KUBRICK 4)ORSON WELLES 5)OTTO PREMINGER 6)MAURY DEXTER 7)JOHN GUILLERMIN 8)JOHN LANDIS 9)MICHAEL WINNER 10)SAM PECKINPAH ACTRESSES 1)VIRGINIA MAYO 2)FAYE DUNAWAY 3)SUE LYON 4)GENE TIERNEY 5)MERRY ANDERS

SCIENCE-FICTION STUFF

Popular This Month

OUR OWN CORNERSTONE

OUR OWN CORNERSTONE
Open the door to DANA ANDREWS Cinema

DANA ANDREWS FACEBOOK

BLOGS OF INTEREST

STARING INTO THE SIXTIES

RARITIES & EXPLOITATION

All Time Popular

KICKING IN THE EIGHTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

TALES AND REFLECTIONS
"Really cool and a lot of class." Yaphet Kotto

TARGETING THE SEVENTIES

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE