Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist – May 15, 2014

Brandon's Blu-ray Wishlist THUMBSummer double feature month continues the wish…SHUT YO MOUTH!  I was talking about the Wishlist.  We can dig it!  Who is the man, who would whine about movies not being on Blu-ray, man? BRANDON!





shaft wishlist

Shaft’s Big Score! (1972)

Shaft In Africa (1973)

Just 2 years ago this August, Gordon Park’s landmark film Shaft finally made it to Blu-ray.  Then last August, the John Singleton directed fourth film in the franchise and a soft reboot was released on Blu-ray.  So, Shaft’s 1 and 4 are available.  How about this August, we close that gap on our Blu-ray shelves and release those middle two films in the franchise on Glorious Blu-ray?  I’m a big big fan of the character of John Shaft (one of my favorite action heroes and all time actors in Richard Roundtree) and his movies and would love like nothing else to have them all available.  They all made it to DVD, and there was even a 3 pack you could get (although they were all  4:3 cropped pan & scan in that 3-pack…LAME).  I think the franchise is an important part of film history and rightly deserves the jump in format.

Shaft 4

The second film in the franchise reunites everyone from the first film except Isaac Hayes (he does have one song on the soundtrack).  Gordon Parks and Richard Roundtree are there and ready for another Shaft action-detective mystery/thriller.  There’s a new theme song “Blowin Your Mind” that Gordon Parks put together for this film.  It’s super groovy and recalls the theme from the first film, but its definitely doesn’t hold a candle to Isaac Hayes’ Academy Award winning theme song.  But, that’s about where my complaints with Shaft’s Big Score! ends.  This movie is quite good and entertaining.  At times it can be as good or better than its predecessor.  The action is definitely taken up a notch here.  I  like that we’re in New York again, but we visit different environments and parts of the city making it feel all the more fresh.    Shaft also drives quite a bit in the film too, which is different.  And he’s got a sweet ride too!  The first film in the franchise gets all the praise and glory, but this sequel is actually really good itself.

Shaft 1

With being the lead Blaxploitation franchise, having a title like Shaft In Africa would suggest some sort of self parody. This film is anything but.  This is actually probably the most serious of the Shaft films and definitely so in the subject matter.  While Roundtree’s over the top camp in the first film is legendary, fun and iconic, it is in this third entry that he probably gives his best “performance” as John Shaft.  While its my least favorite of all four Shaft films, I don’t think its half bad and it really stands on its own in comparison to the other three.  This film has its own unique feel, landscapes and mission.  Once again, they choose not to reprise the Hayes theme which is really interesting considering you would think that they would milk the living hell out of the thing.  Instead, this time we get the Four Tops doing a song called “Are You Man Enough”.  This song is pretty swinging, too, buts its not as major as anything Hayes did.  If there’s one big giant missed opportunity in the 70s Shaft sequels, its that they didn’t infuse that theme over the original trilogy.

Shaft 2

This is the part where I make my second demand for not only the other two Shaft films, but Blaxploitation films from the 1970s in general.  What’s the hold up?  Why is this genre (or subgenre) and big piece of film history SEVERELY lacking on Blu-ray.  To my knowledge, we only have two…let me repeat that…TWO films on Blu-ray from this genre.  There is the original Shaft and a Region B-Only Blu-ray of Foxy Brown from Arrow.  Folks, this is INSANE!  There was a decade full of turning these movies out like gangbusters.  And its not like they’re missing, most all of them have made it to DVD.  There was a label called Soul Cinema that put out a ton of them on DVD and even back in the days of VHS.  Where are Cleopatra Jones, Superfly, Truck Turner, Black Caesar, Blackula, Friday Foster, Dolemite and the rest of the gang?  These at least used to be pretty much household names.  Most of these films were popular and had their lives on the grindhouse circuit.  Other grindhouse genres have had zero trouble finding a home on Blu-ray.  Many through sublicensers.  I highly doubt there’s zero interest.  Okay, I’ll end my rant.  But mark my words, Blu-ray Wishlist will definitely have future installments featuring plenty of Blaxploiatation titles, but that’s thanks in part to none of them getting any love on Blu-ray.

Shaft 3

Back to Shaft.  Who has the rights to the sequels?  Well, its our wonderful friends at Warner Brothers again.  I hold hope that since they released the 1st and 4th films they do have interest in finishing this out.  I could see them doing a double feature with these two or upgrading the triple feature DVD to Blu-ray.  I’d love it if we could get some bonus features on these that look back at them through a retrospective documentary or just some good interviews.  Shaft was an incredibly important film and one that broke a lot of race barriers and carved a great big path for many black actors, directors and the like.  And I would love nothing more than to watch some people share the history of it and discuss its legacy and influence.  Let’s also not forget, that John Shaft is one of the greatest action heroes of all time as well.  Oh and those anecdotes that come with low budget productions are always welcome as well.  Warner Bros, if you’re unsure about making this a general release, then how about you take the avenue of Warner Archive.  Let’s do this!


1 Response to “Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist – May 15, 2014”

  1. Brian White

    Shaft in Africa! Bring it!