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Foxy Brown (Blu-ray Review)

Foxy-BrownPam Grier teams up once again with Coffy director Jack Hill in this blaxploitation follow-up that was filmed in an astounding 17 days.  Foxy Brown co-stars Antonio Fargas (Conrack, Car Wash), Peter Brown (Teenage Tease, Merrill’s Marauder’s), Terry Carter (Brother On The Run), Sid Haig (Coffy, The Devil’s Rejects, Jackie Brown) and is directed by Jack Hill (Coffy, Switchblade Sisters).  Foxy Brown (Pam Grier, Coffy, Jackie Brown) is “a whole lot of woman” and more. Just you wait and see.  The film itself is intentionally a spiritual follow up to the previous Hill-Grier collaboration, Coffy.  And again, the film once again tuggs along grindhouse-era fan-favorite Sid Haig for a small role in the events.  Olive Films is bringing Foxy Brown to the fold for the firs time in the US, preceded by a release from Arrow Video back in 2013 (Which included a limited edition steel book case).  

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Film 

Seeking revenge for the murder of her government-agent boyfriend, a government-agent, Foxy goes to any means necessary – even posing as a prostitute to infiltrate a modeling agency that’s a cover for sex trafficking – to bring the killer to justice.

Foxy Brown was made in the conceptual stage to be the sequel to Coffy.  The film was titled Burn, Coffy, Burn! and was pretty much this exact script.  At the time, the studio didn’t believe sequels to be a smart financial endeavor, so they had Jack Hill “change” it.  This film was already behind so basically all his did was switch “Coffy” to “Foxy”  and drop any references to her profession or workplace.  If you were wondering why these two films flow together so well and compliment each other perfectly without being “related”, this is why.

So this is kinda-sorta Coffy II now titled Foxy Brown still features plenty of Grindhouse flare, but actually runs a bit smoother and is a tad more commercially appealing than Coffy.  I will give Foxy Brown that this film is a little better with its pacing than Coffy.  The film also decides to go bigger and features some more elaborate and bigger action sequences than its predecessor.  There’s a big “grand finale” featuring an airplane.  It does end on the personal note once again, but right before there’s an expensive action set piece.

Foxy Brown is a rocking, blasting good time, and Pam Grier here in this role is fashionably iconic, while also being an independent badass.  Not that she wasn’t in Coffy, but here they are definitely making it a point to have her looking stylish and trend-setting in every frame.  And man oh man, does Pam look good.  She also brings that spunky, badass attitude right back with her as well.  They also add some cool gimmicks in this one, like her being able to smuggle/hide a small pistol in her afro.  Yeah, cheesy, but AWESOME and what the whole 70s grindhouse exploitation scene was about.

This one-two punch of Foxy Brown and Coffy was, hands down, the best two films of Pam Grier’s break out run in the 1970s.  The rest of her stuff isn’t bad, its just that these two films feel like they’re on a bit of a different plain than the others.  A lot of that probably has to do with Jack Hill’s direction behind the scenes.  I mean, hell, Foxy Brown was shot in 17 days and its that awesome, and as I mentioned in some regards a step up and improvement on Coffy.  One last cool note; Foxy Brown premiered with Truck Turner as a double feature.  Now that would have been a killer night time event back in the day!

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/DetailFoxy Brown from Olive Films carries a very similar appearance to Coffy on Blu-ray.  The transfer has a bit more of a hands off approach in terms of digital cleaning (tampering).  But its still full of some really great detail.  Clothing fabrics, surfaces and objects all gleam with loose threads, smudges, scratches and blemishes.  You’ve never seen this movies look as good as it does here.

Depth:  Movement is very smooth.  Actors and objects look very loose and free in their spots in any environment.

Black Levels: Blacks are solid, deep and help in some dimensional work.  No real crushing apparent and loss of detail is at a bare minimum.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are solid and rich.  Pam Grier’s attire is incredibly well represented in this transfer.

Flesh Tones:  Natural and consistent.  Facial detail is pretty strong, showing cuts, wrinkles, makeup, blemishes.

Noise/Artifacts:  A nice layer of grain accompanied by some dirt specs and scratches.  Nothing distracting.  Its an appealing aesthetic for fans of the genre and cinema purists.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  This original theatrical mono mix brings sounds very nice and clean.  I’m sure its the same master that was used for the Arrow Video release.  If not, its oddly close.  Effects and the like sound pretty terrific and fitting of the film itself.  The music on this track sounds very nice and free, allowing each instrument its own identity and space to breathe.  All audio components of effects, vocals and music are all woven in here quite nicely.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are crisp, clear and clean.  There are a few moments where the film shows its age with some analog sounding recordings, but that’s few and far between and a product of its source and time.

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Extras 

Foxy Brown contains no supplemental features.  Menu offers “Play Movie” and “Chapters”.

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Summary 

Like it was with Olive Films’ release of Coffy, there is a vastly superior release of Foxy Brown out there from Arrow Films.  Video and audio quality between those two releases is pretty comparable.  Based on the strength of this film and the fact its finally given a Region A release should be cause for enough excitement.  I wish they could have done some supplemental work here, but you never know what these sublicensing contracts will allow a distributor to do as well (There are some very stingy about new bonus material).  I say its worth it for the film and its picture quality alone.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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