Coffy (1973)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/31/09
Written and Directed by: Jack Hill
Cast: Pam Grier, Booker Bradshaw, Allan Arbus, Sid Haig

This blaxploitation classic is a proud moment for female action cinema and a tour de force for both Jack Hill and Pam Grier. Few women in American cinema have handled a shotgun and stuck it to The Man with as much conviction and single-minded determination as Ms. Grier, and she is delightful throughout. Pam Grier is Coffy, a nurse whose little sister died from a heroin overdose. Fueled by grief and anger, she sets out to kill the people responsible for getting her sister hooked on smack, and one by one the pimps and the pushers fall before her. But with each kill the stakes get higher, which puts Coffy's life on the line. With determination, perseverance, quick thinking, careful planning, nerves of steel, and a lot of dumb luck, she manages to take out the trash all the way to the top.

The film is well made, the acting is good, and the action scenes are sprinkled with some shockingly violent moments. There is no denying Pam Grier's bad-ass, tough-as-nails action persona, but what really brings depth and dimension to her character is her sexy confidence, emotional vulnerability, and the moral conflicts she wrestles with. The consequences of her actions weigh heavily on her, whether it's blowing someone's head off with a shotgun, putting razor blades in her hair for a catfight, or posing as a junkie whore to get closer to the men behind the scenes. Good stuff that's full of wacky 70's sensibilities, outrageous fashions, awesome "kill Whitey" undertones, and just good old fashioned beat 'em up violence.