Shaft (2000)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 6/16/00
Music: David Arnold
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Richard Roundtree

A straight forward actioner full of cussin', shootin', and fightin', plus the extra added bonus of gun-toting Vanessa Williams. Can you dig it? Oh yeah... (someone needs to foster her action persona - she rocks!) This remake/revisit of the 1971 blaxploitation film "Shaft" features Samuel L. Jackson as police detective John Shaft, the nephew of the character from the original (played by Richard Roundtree). Richard Roundtree even shows up in the film to offer his nephew advice. The son of a rich and powerful real estate baron murders a black man outside a restaurant and Shaft is out to bust his ass. Unfortunately, the key witness disappears and the suspect flees the country on bail. Two years later, the suspect sneaks back into the country and Shaft is determined to see his ass in jail. And Shaft ALWAYS gets his man...

An all around good action film, but with a little too much urban slang. The word "motherfucker" loses its impact after about the 100th time. Samuel L. Jackson does a decent job with the role - he's definitely a bad-ass, but his voice needs a little more power behind it. Vanessa Williams was a surprise and a total treat to watch as Shaft's partner, and the primary villains were extremely icky. The rich white kid was cast perfectly, and you instantly and thoroughly despise him. For the most part, racial tension is kept to a minimum, although there is a definite "kill whitey" undercurrent throughout the film (harkening back to the golden era of 70's blaxploitation). The film looks and sounds good, and the action scenes are quite satisfying. The music is also very good - The original "Shaft" theme song over the credits is extremely cool, and David Arnold's interpretation of the theme plays very well over the course of the film. My only complaint is that it's a little slow at times, as detective films tend to be when the characters are "detecting." Good stuff.