Saturday, March 4, 2017
BLAXPLOITATION MONTH: Shaft’s Big Score! (1972)
a number of sequels. So when “Shaft” became a breakout hit, it only made sense to adapt a few of those other books into movies. The producers smartly passed over “Shaft Among the Jews” and skipped ahead to “Shaft's Big Score!,” which hit theaters a year after the first film. Richard Roundtree and director Gordon Parks both return, creating a sequel that was nearly as successful as the original. As far as box office returns went anyway, Shaft was still the man.
John Shaft is awoken in the middle of the night when the phone rings. It's his girlfriend's brother, the owner of a funeral parlor, and he's scared for his life. Later that same night, he dies when his building explodes. Turns out the guy's business partner murdered him, so he could get some quick cash to pay off gambling debts. When that doesn't work, he makes a deal with two separate mob bosses, Gus Mascola and Shaft's old enemy Bumpy Jonas. As the two mob families figure out what's happening, they fight against each other. And John Shaft is caught up in the middle, trying to figure out how to untangle this knot.
The most noticeable difference between “Shaft's Big Score” and the original is the level of action in the film. The original saved off on any real explosive theatrics until the very end of the film. The sequel, meanwhile, peppers biggest set pieces liberally throughout the run time. The movie starts with an explosion after all. Shaft's gets in more fist fights in this one, including a practically surreal slow-motion beating in the back of a night club. Another fight is almost comical, as Shaft corners an enemy while pretending to be a window washer. Yet the last act is when things really ramp up. A machine gun fight in a graveyard leads into an escalating series of chase scenes. First, we have an energetic car chase. This shifts towards a boat chase before the film concludes with Shaft, on foot, being chased through a construction side by a helicopter. It's an excellent series of scenes and clearly the highlight of the movie.
The central theme song is essentially a weaker reprise of the original, sang by an unenthusiastic O.C. Smith.
“Shaft's Big Score” gets a lot of points for that awesome chase scene and Roundtree is just as good. There are several flashy moments, like a night club performance composed of nude women in body paint and outrageous wigs. When you add it all up, the sequel just isn't as cool as the first one and a little too eager to repeat what worked the first time. Audiences didn't seem to mind too much. Part two made ten million dollars at the box office, major bucks in the mid-seventies, which guaranteed at least one more adventure. [6/10]
[THE BLAXPLOITATION CHECKLIST: 9 outta 12]
[X] Afros or Sideburns
 Brothels or Pimps
 Church or Pastors
[X] Funky Soundtrack
 Homophobic Caricatures
[X] Inner-City Setting
[X] Night Club Act
[X] Plot Involving Drugs or Organized Crime
[X] Racist Authority Figures
[X] Sticking It to the Man
[X] Sweet Love Makin'
[X] Use of Street Slang