Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SHAFT (2000) - Can you dig it?

Samuel L. Jackson taking over the character of hard-boiled detective and suave ladies man John Shaft from Richard Roundtree is pure exploitation glory. No, scratch that. It's cinematic justice. Detective John Shaft is working the beat when he's called to the scene of a brutal bar fight. A young black dude got punched half to death by a racist prick named Walter Wade (Christian Bale), who turns out to be the spoiled son of a multimillionaire. Shaft looses his cool when Wade mocks the dying black guy, and punches him out in front of the TV cameras. As a result, Wade is let out on bail Shaft is reassigned to some backwater duty.

"Say WHAT one more time!" Oh wait...
 Two years later, while running drug busts, Shaft butts heads with a drug kingpin named Peoples Hernandez (Jeffrey Wright). At the same time, Shaft and his crew nab Wade after he shows up in New York after fleeing the country on bail. Wade and Peoples meet while in jail, where they strike up an uneasy sort of arrangement. Wade is let out on bail again, but after leaving the lockup, he hires Peoples to kill the last remaining witness that could put him away the assault at the bar - the bartender Diane (Toni Collette). Shaft is pissed off that Wade's been allowed to walk free, he quits the police force and vows to make sure Wade gets what he deserves.

Christian Bale's Walter Wade is one of the greatest douchebags to ever grace the screen.
Shaft is classic B-movie, exploitation material that only works because of Sam Jackson. One of my friends loves this movie, but complains that Sam Jackson just plays himself in every movie, but in this case it really doesn't matter: Jackson was born to play this role. There's no other actor alive that could have pulled off this role convincingly. Jackson is the man - the one liners, the insults, the body language, the wardrobe, and attitude - he just nails it.

The one and only Peoples.
Jeffrey Wright and Christian Bale are on great form too. Wright as Peoples is perfect. I've talked to so many people who've saw Shaft a decade ago and the thing everyone remembers is how hilarious Peoples is. His accent and mannerisms have to be seen to believed; Wright is a total chameleon. Bale as Wade the racist, spoiled asshole is also great. He's channeling plenty of American Psycho into his performance and he makes it so hard not to hate Wade. Watching Peoples and Wade trade verbal jabs at each other made the movie for me.

No such thing as too much swagg for Shaft.
Shaft is a total guilty pleasure. It's trash elevated to classic action movie material by some great, over the top performances, a bitching soundtrack, and some decent action. You could watch a movie a day for the rest of your life and you'd have a hard time finding another movie as quotable as this one. Wade, Peoples and Shaft himself have so many great lines it's tough keeping track of all of them. Credit is due to the writers for being faithful to the vibe of the original without straying into self-parody, and for finding a fun balance between comedy and action.

Best scene: The apartment gunfight & the car chase that follows is solid stuff.

Best line: There's way too many good ones to choose from. All of Peoples' lines are great. "Tiger Woo... I laik heem."

TL;DR - Kick back and watch Sam Jackson lay down the motherf*cking law - 7.5/10


  1. It wasn't bad at all, one you can watch every now and again.

  2. Absolute classic, Sammy Jackson is so badass.

  3. HAHAHAHAH I knew which line the "favorite" would be before I read it.

  4. skipped this one when it came out back in the day, but if you say Patrick Bateman plays a raging asshole in this flick, I might just have to chick it out.

  5. nice blog~ walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

    Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..