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Penitentiary

Posted by Josh Samford On February - 21 - 2011

Penitentiary (1979)
Director: Jamaa Fanaka
Writers: Jamaa Fanaka
Starring: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Wilbur ‘Hi-Fi’ White and Thommy Pollard



The Plot: Martel ‘Too Sweet’ Gordone (played by Leon Isaac Kennedy) is a tough young man who runs into some trouble with a couple of bikers who try their best to rough up a young prostitute. When ‘Too Sweet’ begins to batter the two goons, he is struck over the head with a bottle and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he is in prison. A victim of the racist system, Too Sweet must now contend with life on the inside. The prison is ran by a group of individuals who are obsessed with breaking in the fresh meat, so that they can make them their sexual slaves. ‘Too Sweet’ however refuses to give in and displays his tremendous natural fighting ability. This gets him a shot in a boxing competition that offers many rewards, such as free time with a woman and even time taken off of a sentence! Will ‘Too Sweet’ make it through the tournament and what will happen with his new enemies within the penitentiary?

The Review
By the time the seventies were coming to a close the blaxploitation genre was beginning to fade into obscurity, certainly when looked at in comparison to its popularity during the years previous. There were still films being made, such as Rudy Ray Moore’s Disco Godfather (1979) and South African Death of a Snow Man (1978) amongst many others, but the lines had been blurred so much at this point that this genre, that never really was a “genre”, was beginning to peter out. Director Jamaa Fanaka was a filmmaker from a specific time, who could only have worked within that very specific generation, and his time and place was within African American independent cinema during the 1970’s. Best known for the Penitentiary trilogy, Fanaka is a very different and interesting character from blaxploitation film history. Since the majority of all casts in blaxploitation films were obviously African American, many might have been left with the impression that these films were also directed and written by African Americans themselves. This was unfortunately not the case on most occasions. There were only a hand full of African Americans standing behind the camera within this movement. Fanaka is interesting because, unlike someone like Melvin Van Peoples, Fanaka had a definite love for genre filmmaking. Each one of his five films, made between the years of 1975 to 1992, all fall within the lines of genre-cinema in some form or another. Often times they were bent into weird and unrecognizable shapes along the way, but by and large his films had a certain commercial aesthetic to them that lead many to embrace his particular form of entertainment. Penitentiary itself stands out as easily one of the better, and certainly most interesting, prison films made within this time and era.
The film opens up as a regular run of the mill exploitation film, starting off in a dusty desert surrounding with a group of bikers harassing ‘Too Sweet’. Your first impression is that this film will take us the route of a generic biker film similar to Born Losers (the first Billy Jack film which featured similar scenery and a biker’s run-amuck plot device), but in the very first moment where we actually enter into the prison system: we are transported to a different world. This is where the film delivers something completely unlike anything you have ever seen before. Characters break through the fourth wall on regular occurrence, walking directly into the camera and staring into it while mouthing inaudible words and threats while their happiness and anger scream intimidation. Their wild stares and incessant dancing gives the appearance of something foreign, or completely wild, hidden away within our “justice” system. The criminal system, within the first few shots, is shown to be a complete and total madhouse. Insanity at it’s most tantamount. This isn’t a place to be reformed, it’s a place where sanity is apparently deprived of all its citizenry. Within this secular society, all of societal norms have been flipped upside down and a war of sexual orientation is being battled about.

Although, at its very heart, this is a very simple boxing story set within a prison and has a fair amount of comedy thrown in to entertain, but one gets the idea that Fanaka definitely went for some of the social commentary that his film makes. The state of the criminal system is of course shown to be predominately black, with several allusions to slavery being made in the form of homosexual aggression lead by a select number of authoritative leaders within the prison. Fresh prisoners who aren’t acclimated to the rough and tumble way of life that is now in front of them are made into sexual slaves for the high ranking gang leaders. Human beings are treated as objects, expressed perfectly in one pivotal sequence where the young Laverne is chastised by another inmate and is told “You my stuff now! You my stuff!”. The heartlessness of slavery is captured within scenes such as this better than any civil war feature I believe that I have ever seen. Although the white warden isn’t shown to be as insufferable as many of the black inmates, he is still very much a plantation-owner of sorts. The character generally even looks the part. So, within this strange world of slavery upon slavery, the character of Too Sweet stands up as a strong black male who may be held within the confines of this system, the prison/America, but he will not play ball and he will fight to have what he desperately wants: freedom/equality. This is all very surface level observations, but what I like about Penitentiary is that we as the audience can pick up on these small bits of subtext but at the same time we can also enjoy the plentiful action sequences throughout.
Never willing to abandon the fun nature of cinema, Fanaka crafts an action film in the midst of his counter-cultural observation on American “justice”. The action is generally divided into two parts: the realistic boxing sequences, and then the rehearsed and choreographed street fights. As a fight fan myself (boxing and mixed martial arts), I always keep an eye on fight choreography. What is interesting about Penitentiary is the way many of the in-ring boxing sequences are handled. Rather than a Rocky style of back and forth action, which is often well choreographed but entirely fake looking, the actors in Penitentiary look to really throw their punches and are legitimately trying to make contact with one another. If you have ever seen a legitimate street fight between two untrained guys who simply want to slug it out and throw the most ridiculous haymakers that they possibly can, then you have seen what some of the boxing in Penitentiary looks like. Overhand lefts and overhand rights, thrown in succession without halting, by both combatants… that is really all there is to these boxing sequences, but in the context of the movie it works tremendously well. After all, these are just men throwing punches at each other without any kind of legitimate training. When a fighter who has no self control steps into the ring within any full contact sport, they will act in basically the same fashion. When offense seems to work, who cares about defense?


The Conclusion
Does Penitentiary have issues? Sure! You can pick it apart, with the budget obviously being a factor in many of the goals Fanaka likely had for his film. However, I must say, Penitentiary succeeds as a piece of entertainment and as a time capsule for independent African American filmmaking. I have become such a fan of this movie, I can’t help but recommend it. I give it a four out of five stars and hope others take the time to track it down if they have not already!




Disco Godfather

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 17 - 2010

The Plot: In the height of the disco age, our story focuses on a man named Tucker Williams who is best known by his alias, “The Disco Godfather” (played by Rudy Ray Moore). When the Godfather’s nephew, young Buckie, has his basketball scholarship dreams dashed by a friend who gives him a hot dose of the brand new drug called PCP… the Disco Godfather swears vengeance! The Disco Godfather, who is an ex-police officer, has all of the connections to convincingly hunt down the drug dealers who have poisoned his community with this new plague. He visits the local hospital, which is packed full to the brim with young kids who are suffering PCP induced comas, and he sets his mind to bigger things. He helps establish programs in order to “attack the whack” and put an end to this nightmare of drug horrors. However, as the Disco Godfather digs deeper and deeper into this assorted mess, he begins to discover that these drug cartels go up further than anyone could have ever imagined!


The Review
Rudy Ray Moore is a celebrity within the blaxploitation genre that draws some very different reactions. Depending on who you ask, you’ll either hear him revered as a saint or as a blasphemous curse on the entire genre. He is beloved within hip-hop and African American culture for his party albums during the seventies which were very popular. They were groundbreaking in their taboo subject matter, and pushed the limits of vulgarity as an art form. However, when it came to the cinematic scale, his movies were by no means “good”. His catalog has become the fodder of B-Movie fans who love the consistent continuity errors and dreadful acting.

To be completely honest, I am not a big fan of Moore’s comedy recordings. Although they most certainly have their audience, as a totally square cracker, the comedy simply alludes my own understanding. Despite it being slightly mean spirited, and lacking in compassion, I tend to enjoy Moore’s filmography as a connoisseur of really bad movies. That might make me a bad person, that might make me a less cultured hooligan, but it doesn’t make me wrong. Disco Godfather is a bad movie. Poor conception, poor execution and generally bad in almost every way except that one area that tends to matter most: entertainment. Disco Godfather, despite everything I may have to say about it, is ridiculous in its levels of entertainment.
Disco Godfather is a movie that you really CAN judge based entirely on its name. Do not feel bad about judging this book by its sequin-laden cover folks, because chances are you KNOW what this movie has in store for you. Simply from knowing Rudy Ray Moore’s involvement, as well as the title of the film, Disco Godfather more or less played out exactly as I had it built up inside of my head. My expectations were that the film would take place in a bizarre fantasy disco world that would be inhabited by caricatures. I expected some kind of conflict would take place, and it would ultimately draw the Disco Godfather from his discotheque, and then he would have to use poorly choreographed martial arts in order to destroy some kind of nefarious scheme that was, more than likely, concocted by the white man. As it turns out, I was right.

That really is Disco Godfather in a nutshell. As with any great piece of literature though, it isn’t ultimately about the destination of the story, but the follies along the way. Similar to Great Expectations or Moby Dick, while we are discussing literary works, Disco Godfather squarely places itself in a very certain time and a very certain place. That place is of course the tail end of the seventies disco subculture! If you have seen Dolemite!, chances are the last thing you ever expected to see was Rudy Ray Moore sporting a skin tight, baby blue, sequin covered jump-suit. Well, if you watch Disco Godfather… prepare yourself, because you’re treated to just such a sight within the opening minutes of the film. Rudy Ray Moore, sporting the biggest grin in cinematic history, pops and locks his way down the electric slide line in true seventies fashion. The moment is very surreal to say the very least, but never lacking in humor. Intentional or not.
Rudy Ray Moore is the MVP for this picture, without question. Although Disco Godfather is a step up in most technical regards in comparison to Dolemite!, the one consistency from both pictures is Moore’s performance. Equally intimidating and hilarious, Moore is the glue that holds the film together. His performance is generally poor in all fashions, but its the astounding manner in which he delivers his performance that makes the movie so unique in its entertainment value. Moore enters into scenes with a grin upon his face, despite there being no reason to be so upbeat and he generally fluctuates between two modes: suave and mad-as-all-get-out. He defines the two-dimensional performance here and yet remains so incredibly likable in his performance that it is hard to imagine any audience member walking away with any ill-feelings toward him. He may win over audiences in the most simplistic of manners, but he absolutely does win them over.

Despite Rudy Ray Moore’s awful/brilliant line delivery (“Bucky! What have you HAY-AD!?”), the rest of the cast are generally decent. There are a few spotty moments here and there, but for the most part the cast does a good job in supporting this far fetched, PCP ridden, story. Carol Speed (Abby, The Mack) is good here but her role might as well have been billed as a cameo. At the end of the day, this is Rudy Ray Moore’s show and it is as ridiculous as the man himself ever thought of being. A favorite moment of mine came towards the end of the film and shows Rudy Ray Moore hunting down the PCP traffickers in a alleyway, and this of course proceeds to escalate into a kung fu battle. The choreography is honestly a vast improvement for Moore, but what makes the sequence memorable is when a jogger stumbles upon the brawl and asks “Hey, what’s going on here?,” to which Moore replies “These guys are selling PCP!,” which causes our jogger to throw off the towel from around his neck and join in saying “PCP? Well then, let’s kick some ass!“. If that doesn’t define this movie, what does?


The Conclusion
Ridiculous. Stupid. Hilarious. Brilliant. All are words that describe Disco Godfather adequately. You, as a film fan, should know whether this is a movie you want to track down. I will say that it at times has pacing issues during the first half, where Rudy Ray Moore seems to spend more time at the disco than he does tracking down any PCP dealers. When the movie picks up, the silliness rarely lets up. Part of me wants to sway anyone from ever seeing this movie and then another part of me wants to implore everyone to search it out. For my rating, I have to sway towards the side of entertainment. I give the movie a three out of five. It was a close vote and almost made it to a four, but those previously mentioned pacing issues really slow things down during the first half. Regardless, check out this ridiculous piece of fluff as soon as possible!




Foxy Brown

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 13 - 2008


Plot Outline: Foxy Brown is a young black woman trying to make her way through the seventies. She has plans to get out of the ghetto along with her boyfriend Michael who works for the government in stopping the local gangsters. See, Michael faked his death along the way and has recently been let out of the hospital after facial reconstruction. So now it looks like Foxy has finally got her man and life is looking up. Well, things aren’t going to stay that way and pretty soon the word is out on the street that Michael faked his death, and he is shot to death outside Foxy’s home. Now, an average woman might turn away, being outnumbered and outgunned, but Foxy isn’t an average woman and she’s got revenge on her mind. Bodies fall, guns blast and Pam Grier changes costumes more times than you could shake a stick at!


Continue reading “Foxy Brown” »

Dolemite

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 22 - 2008
Plot Outline: Dolemite is one bad mother, the only problem is he’s locked up on some phony charges set up by the crooked police, but that’s about to change. You see, the warden along with the mayor and a unidentified third party realize that their only chance to clean up the streets (because the peddling of drugs and guns seems to have worsened since Dolemite was sent up the river, don’t worry I don’t see how this could be considered logical either) is to let the big ‘D go free. Dolemite agrees after he hears that his cousin was shot dead for no good reason, and now he sets out for revenge… kinda. Two crooked cops stand in his way, as well as the insidious Willie Green who has taken over all of Dolemite’s territory and works with the crooked police. Thankfully while Dolemite was in the can, Queen Bee (Dolemite’s female helper who keeps his Ho’s in check) paid to have all of his hookers learn Karate in order to protect themselves more efficiently. With his Kung Fu hookers, Dolemite aims to take back his former Club and territory, but it seems many in town plan to stand in his way. Even the mayor!

  

The Review: I’ve been hearing about Dolemite since forever. I knew about it before I even knew about the blaxploitation genre it’s self really. I remember reading the review for it over at badmovies.org, listening to their audio clips and thinking to myself, man I have got to see this. A pimp who curses with every breath, sometimes rhymes and has a stable of karate fighting ninja Ho’s? Could it really be as great as I have it built up in my head? Well let me tell you, the film exceeded all of my expectations. I knew it was going to be bad and funny, but I had absolutely no idea. I remember a few years back Mad TV used to have a skit that made fun of the character of Dolemite, basically making fun of how completely inept the films are. Dolemite would fight off the ‘honkeys’ using the hokiest karate you have ever seen, with the actors deliberately doing their absolute worst. I remember one episode where I believe Dolemite had to go to The Moon (or something along those lines) to retrieve his ‘pimp cane’, of course when he did much bad karate ensued followed by Dolemite getting it on with some foxy ladies. The little skits were actually some of the best things that were happening on Mad TV at the time, of course only in my opinion. This was somewhere along the time “Stewie” and “Mrs. Swan”, two somewhat annoying characters with even more annoying catch phrases, took over the show. It seems to have been on a steady decline since it’s conception as a tv show, but I’m moving off topic. Watching Dolemite the other day, it’s pretty shocking how much the movie and those skits do have in common. The skits were taken to even higher degrees of stupidity of course, but Dolemite truly is the Plan 9 From Outer Space of blaxploitation. It’s unintentionally hilarious at every corner, the paper thin plot doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense at all and much like Plan 9, there appears to be some heart to the film. This, and that fact that it truly is one of the most entertaining films you’re going to see within the genre, is what makes you truly grow to appreciate and like the film. You have to imagine no one on set really knew what they were doing, had no budget and tried their best to make as entertaining a film as they knew how to do. They succeeded, but probably not in the way they had hoped. When I laugh at a movie for being ‘bad’, I like to think that I’m not doing it out of some need to hurt the creators of the film or to insult the film it’s self, it’s just that with all of the heaviness of any genre, there’s always the need for something a little lighter. Sometimes a film can be bad and suck the air out of the room for being horrendous and awful, and sometimes a film can be cheesy and inept by critical standards, but can truly bring a smile to your face. Maybe just because it’s fun to spot the mistakes within the film, sure, but there can be a special magic to a good b-movie, and I think Dolemite has just that. Between the hilarious and over the top dialogue, atrocious acting by pretty much everyone involved and all of the bizarre edits and plot inconsistencies, it gels into something wholly it’s own. Something bad, yet appealing. Something genuinely entertaining even if it’s not exactly something you’ll be showing to your family over Easter Holiday. It will take a special soul to really enjoy the inadequacies of Dolemite, but for the right person under the right circumstances, you’ll no doubt leave as entertained as I.

There isn’t a vast audience for the film out there, but the many reviews that take focus on it generally tend to focus on the same things, and with great regret I can’t help but do the same thing. You can’t talk about Dolemite without mentioning all these little idiosyncrasies that make it so memorable. It’s not a film that has too many layers or deserves a vast article focusing on the superb cinematography. The reason to love the film so adamantly is how very stupidly fun it is. You can’t talk about Dolemite and not mention his karate fighting stable of Ho’s. It’s a package deal, even if the Ho’s don’t get to do a great deal of fighting. Being that I rented this film on vhs (that would be the reason I took the images from the badmovies.org review, sorry Andrew but I needed some screen caps. Hopefully my linking the site twice in one review is substantial enough payment, because I’m a broke mutha), I was lucky enough to get the ever so classic Xenon video box, which I love completely. Dolemite, or perhaps just the Xenon vhs, is the only film where in the credits on the front cover there is someone listed as “Martial Arts Champion”! Is it really necessary to have a martial arts ‘champion’ on set? Wouldn’t it be more valuable to have a fight choreographer? I have no idea what the ‘champion’ title means, it’s as if someone on set had a tournament and whoever’s martial arts won received their name on the front of the film’s poster. It’s truly bizarre, and considering the complete lack of decency within the fighting it’s self, it just makes things even more hilarious. I’m not speaking out of turn either. The ‘karate’ within Dolemite is the stuff of legend. The very first fight sequence that establishes our character had me laughing so hard I was afraid I would wake the neighbors. It happens during a flashback to when Dolemite was arrested by the FBI (err, I think they were FBI. If not, they were all plain clothes detectives). Some cops come up, demanding to look in Dolemite’s trunk (considering this was a clear violation of his rights, it seems that if Dolemite had so much money he could clearly take this to a higher court through some fancy lawyers. Racist G-men or not). Not surprisingly, when they open it up a bunch of fur coats and cocaine are found and they want to take Dolemite to hit the mainline express to prison-town (don’t ask me where I came up with that one). Dolemite, being the bad mofo that he is, let’s loose his fury with the ever classic “you’re going to have to TAKE ME!!, what proceeds is one of the most astonishingly bad displays of martial arts that cinema has ever seen. The camera follows the punches from behind our fighters, the punches and kicks don’t connect very well and it’s all so very sloppy. It truly is quite the display. The greatest fight scene has to come when Dolemite is accosted by the two racist cops who lay a few punches on him. Dolemite jump kicks one in the back, this somehow knocks him unconscious. Since the kick hit him dead in his back I can only imagine he hit the ground face first, but that’s really putting too much thought into a Dolemite fight scene. The other cop isn’t so lucky when he receives some very badly aimed punches followed by a kick to the head that is easily TWO FEET away from ever touching his face, and yet our cop falls to the ground writhing in pain. These two scenes, gathered with a large and very sloppily edited bar brawl are only one of a million reasons you and everyone within your family deserves to see Dolemite and obviously should see Dolemite.

It’s 110% pure campy fun, sure it’s horrendously made, but as much as it is unintentionally humorous there are some very intentionally entertaining additions to the film. The dialogue is atrocious by university standards of course, but when you watch the film as a viewer and not a critic, a lot of this is truly classic. Who could ever forget when Dolemite is informing a police officer to please make room for him to get into his car, only Dolemite puts it a little more blunt when he says “Man move over and let me pass ‘fore they have to be pulling these hush puppies out your motherf***ing a**!” (censored because, well, as stupid as it is, my reviews are for everyone even if the films in question aren’t). Dolemite spits out things as equally as clever and obscene throughout the course of the film and this is why we like him so much, why kids everywhere (well, not everywhere) want to be Dolemite. He’s such a larger than life character, a true bad mofo if ever one did truly exist. It’s stupid to say about such a bad movie, but that’s the way it is with me. The characters other than Dolemite are just as widely drawn, Creeper – The Hamburger Pimp is probably one of the weirdest characters ever written. Perhaps Rudy Ray Moore had talked about this strange heroin junkie during his standup act, but for those of us who haven’t heard any of his albums, it’s just one more thing never explained throughout the course of the film. I personally wanted to know more about The Hamburger Pimp, did he sell the hamburgers to get smack? Why was it important for us to waste thirty seconds watching him doing a jive strut down the street after ‘pimping’ a hamburger from that fast food place? Things the audience may never know. We’ll also never exactly know why the local preacher was given guns, or really even what he wanted to do with them. Sure, he was a militant, but he didn’t exactly seem to have a fanatical following. Another big question is to what is even going on in the film. The plot literally makes no sense at all. The mayor wanted Dolemite out of jail, and that mysterious third party, was that the FBI agent? What was he doing making deals with the mayor? Why didn’t the mayor have Dolemite killed while in the prison? Why did the warden of a prison have so much authority when letting a prisoner go? How did Dolemite get out of prison on bail when he had just committed homicide and already had a criminal record even though if he was released he would likely be on a serious probation? You just can’t ask questions like this! There are no answers! The film’s script wasn’t meant to be questioned, it was only there to form a shell for Rudy Ray Moore to ham it up as the biggest and baddest pimp to ever come from the realm of blaxploitation. Dolemite could chew up The Mack any day of the week. Max Julien never displayed any Kung Fu of note anyway. Yet, while the plot is filled with more holes than Clyde Barrow’s Sedan (that’s a historical reference kiddies), it’s the amazingly bad production that gives Dolemite a lot of the cult appeal it has. The film has what is easily one of the worst pieces of editing I’m familiar with, right up there with the teleportation of a character directly into scene in The Girl With The Golden Boots (I swear I’ve brought that same error up in a previous review). During a lovemaking session between our main man Dolemite and one of his Ho’s, we are given a shot of Dolemite and his honey lying in bed wrapped in sheets. They begin caressing and preparing to do the horizontal jig, when all of a sudden, the film cuts to the same exact shot, but after the sex! The camera remains in place, only Dolemite and this girl have moved a little on the bed (neither in a position that looks remotely like they could actually be doing ‘it’) and are both now moaning. There was no cut to a clock, or a shot of the windows to show the gradual loss of time. Not even a closeup on clothing or the camera fading out. No, we’re treated to the exact same shot we started with in what is such a ridiculously clumsy edit that I almost lost faith in the idea of cinema as art. The film is full of a million other herky jerky edits that make the film look like it was put together by a blind man, but in the end it’s all a part of why the film has to be seen to be believed.

The acting, as mentioned, is almost pitiful to watch. A favorite bit of drama for me comes near the beginning where Queen Bee is so excited that Dolemite is being released from prison that she begins to tear up. The complete lack of any resemblance of emotion in the way she says “Dolemite, I’m so happy” should provoke uproarious laughter throughout any average human being, as a matter of fact if you don’t laugh, I have to think that you are insane. I still can’t get that out of my head and I doubt that I ever will. The direction in the film doesn’t even really seem worth mentioning, because I find it doubtful he was really instructive in the making of the film. I could be wrong and he was making the best of a bad situation, but I find it hard to believe he was very interested in what was going on while the cameras were rolling. His portrayal of Willie Green is actually one of the better performances throughout the film, but that doesn’t say much. Perhaps he just wasn’t that great of a teacher at this point in his life. Never the less, the lack of true guidance on the set seems to have been a blessing for the film, because I have to imagine if the story had been told in a mediocre (rather than horrendously bad) way, the film probably wouldn’t have taken on the cult following that it has. Tough guy gangster films were a dime a dozen at this point in cinema history. The film is a finely crafted piece of seventies cheese, whether you’ll like it is truly based upon your character. If you don’t dig it, that doesn’t make you a square, but it does mean this type of cinema might not be up your alley. If you do love this seemingly noxious piece of b-cinema, join the club because I can’t get it out of my head. Sure, it may seem offensive to the ‘art’ to give such a bad film a four rating, but if you don’t have fun while watching this film it’s hard for me to sympathize. A classic in the area of b-films, a king amongst slop. I love it adoringly, and as should anyone with a heart.



Detroit 9000

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 8 - 2008
Originally written by Sebastian Haselbeck from the Tarantino Archives


Introduction: Detroit 9000 may be the low point in Tarantino’s glorious Rolling Thunder video collection. Not because of the movie, but because of the extras. Because there are none. But lets leave that for the last paragraph of this review. Detroit 9000 is a true blaxploitation film and surprised me as a true crime flick with real qualities.

Plot Synopsis: At a fund raiser for black governor candidate Aubrey Clayton, armed and masked gangsters enter the church and rob the place. Afterwards, Clayton urges the Detroit Police Deptartment to solve the case quickly. Because this could be a racial issue, and all over the city people are making up theories whether it’s blacks versus blacks, or racist, or just money related, the chief of police assigns two investigators to the case: Sgt. Jesse Williams (Hari Rhodes), a ‘brother’, and Lt. Dan Bassett (Alex Rocco), a white cop who has always been surpassed with promotions. He smells his big chance for career, he’s a grumpy professional. Jesse is kind of like Shaft, also a professional. Both of them tackle the case and start going after their leads. Everything leads to a whorehouse, where hoe Ruby gives them the clue to go after her pimp Ferdy. He’s supposed to have connections to the thieves that where involved in the heist. Ruby dies. Many gangsters die. The loot is gone. But Jesse smells the truth. It seems like Dan Basset himself has vanished with the loot in order to find the string-pullers behind all this or, to vanish forever and live nicely with the money. While Jesse busts Ferdy and kills most of the gangsters in a big rundown, Dan Basset tries to meet with the middle men of this conspiracy, but his cover is blown as he turns out to be white. They kill him. But Jesse is on it, and solves the case, making himself a hero in public.


The Review
Detroit 9000 is a mixture between Dirty Harry, Shaft and Miami Vice. A black cop and a white cop going after a highly political case. The movie is spiced with racial controversy and suspense. I liked this movie, not because its much of a sensation, but because its a solid crime flick. The plot wanders along like crazy and you start liking each of the characters. The acting is ground solid, and hell, the entire movie does not look low budget. You have boat chases, helicopters, gun fights, explosions, different locations and good music. This blaxploitation film offers a little more than what the package says: substance. A good movie for a good viewing experience.

The DVD
Oh my. Where are the glorious intros and outros by Tarantino? They were on the other DVDs! I wished he would talk about this movie on the disc. Dialogue from this movie is even on the Jackie Brown soundtrack! All you can find, are some trailers (amongst them, the single best trailer for From Dusk Till Dawn). The DVD starts with some trailers and stuff, by the way (“now availably on dvd…”) The image quality is very good and satisfies for a film of this age and production value. The sound… well, it’s 2.0 mono. And while it is not as bad as with Switchblade sisters, it’s still not much of a good effort. But it’s okay.

The Conclusion
A great police crime flick with blaxploitation flavor, fake blood and lots of action. Makes good entertainment for a lazy evening. Too bad the DVD is a no-extras release.

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