New York police detective John Shaft arrests Walter Wade Jr. for a racially motivated slaying. But the only eyewitness disappears, and Wade jumps bail for Switzerland. Two years later Wade returns to face trial, confident his money and influence will get him acquitted -- especially since he's paid a drug kingpin to kill the witness.
I know cats who'd take out whole zipcodes for that kind of cheese.
Remakes do work occasionally, case in point Shaft, John Singleton's update of the 1971 Blacksploitation movie that starred Richard Roundtree as the title character. Roundtree gets a part in this one as well, playing the uncle of Samuel L. Jackson's title character, John Shaft.
It's the perfect role for Jackson, lashings of cool and menace, on his bulky shoulders dose the film easily rest. Plot finds Shaft turning in his badge after the law proves useless to let racist murderer Walter Wade Junior (Christian Bale a sneering villain but awesome looking in a tux) out on the streets. Shaft vows to bring Wade to justice, by any means necessary. Though he also has other things on his plate, namely Latino drug lord Peoples Hernandez (Jeffrey Wright a riot) and some less than honourable police officers.
The screenplay is a little trite, but as an action movie, one with the coolness and sparky humour, it really hits the required spots of those just after such easy minded fare. The support cast is a roll call of sound performers with the likes of Vanessa Williams, Dan Hedaya and Toni Collette fronting up, while the awesome ebullience of Busta Rhymes is very infectious.
Isaac Hayes gloriously famous theme tune is still in place, pumped up by composer David Arnold, which ensures the feel of the original isn't lost, and Donald E. Thorin's photography is pin sharp and in turns gorgeous (night shots) and streetwise gritty. Shaft, the 2000 version, still bad-ass and sadly under appreciated. 7/10
Paramount, Scott Rudin Productions, New Deal Productions, Shaft Productions, Munich Film Partners & Company (MFP) GHS Productions by John Singleton, Ernest Tidyman, Shane Salerno.
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Christian Bale.
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
Keywords: new york city sibling relationship corruption italian american based on novel or book drug dealer remake revenge murder drugs police officer xenophobia lucifer morningstar african american
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