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Darth Siskel sings the praises of SHAFT

HEy folks, Harry here with Darth Siskel (constant talkbacker and AICN chatter) and his look at the new SHAFT movie starring Sam "the man" Jackson. Now, the early reviews for this film stated that Shaft never laid down with a woman in the film, which many SHAFT fans felt was... bogus and uncool. We've had reviews from folks like Segue Zagnut, who had never seen a blaxploitation film before... and didn't care for it. While we had others that thought it was a pretty darn good movie. That was the first round of test screenings. Since those... Singleton has been honing his film, taking on some additional reshoots (according to net rumors these took place in Philadelphia). Now, Darth is in no position to judge this cut vs the earlier cut, but I do know that Darth is not a studio shill (he's reviewed BICENTENNIAL MAN [hated it], TOY STORY II [loved it], SLEEPY HOLLOW [loved it], etc...) and he loves films. So... without further ado... here's the man...

Hey Harry,

Tonight I Sithed my way into another screening. This time it was the new

John Singleton movie, "SHAFT"...starring Samuel L. Jackson. Hear is my spoiler free review. If you want spoilers, read the script.

I must admit I never saw the original Shaft, but I've seen enough clips to know why it was popular, and know that Shaft is the man. I can't comment on how faithful this is to the old movie material, but I can say I liked it alot.

The new SHAFT movie is tight. This is no Lethal Weapon ripoff, or god forbid The Mod Squad movie. This movie really worked.


Based on the trailer I thought the movie would be good, but really it was alot more than I was expecting. It was great. Did I say Shaft kicks ass??

Samuel L. Jackson is the man in this movie. I liked Sam in alot of his movies, including of course Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, etc. but haven't been too impressed with alot of his recent performances. Well this role was made for him. He has an aura of badass all over him. You mess with Shaft and he returns the favor. He has the style only a movie character could have & a way with the women that only James Bond could compete with.

The movie tries not to be too cliche where the story is concerned. The story takes alot of twists and turns and it is rarely predictable. There are alot of villians in this movie. Who will kill who, and who will survive Shaft is all unknown until it unfolds & I wasn't bored for one minute of it.

This movie is full of likeable & well written/performed characters. The main three leads, which I would say are Shaft, Christian Bale as a snobby rich killer, and a Dominican drug lord named 'Peeples' are very strong, convincing presences. The Dominican drug lord is especially funny and steals many scenes, but the movie still maintains a great balance. Everyone steals at least a scene or two. All the other characters, like Busta Rymes as Shaft's driver, and Vanessa Willams as his partner had a good ammount of screen time. None of their parts seemed forced or useless. Even the original Shaft actor had a decent role...not just some two second scene like most cameos are.

Singleton did a great job at the helm. The directing is not at all distracting like say, a Michael Bay movie. He seemed to concentrate on the story, the characters, and no bullshit. Even in this rough cut, Singleton does a good job of telling the story, and even the action was clear & exciting. I do believe Nick Gillard of The Phantom Menace & Sleepy Hollow was the stunt coordinator. It shows.

Another thing that contributed to the movie working so well was it's level of excessive violence. If you're going to depict street violence, I say do it hard and do it real. Yes, Shaft is ruthless. Yes, he blows people away left and right, and he isn't even a cop! But those were the bad guys he shot. They deserved to die. This is a fantasy character, and he is every bit as badass as Dirty Harry, Robocop, or Mad Max. I would expect and hope they make sequels to this movie, because I love this character!

Lastly, the temp music was mostly Shaft's theme music and it worked great.

-DarthSiskel ending transmission- To Communicate With Me Click Here!

Readers Talkback
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  • May 2, 2000, 4:48 a.m. CST

    Shaft vs GvsE

    by Ogami

    The real question isn't whether Shaft is better then Mod Squad, but if it's nearly as cool as GvsE!! GvsE has set a new standard in that special 70's look and the standard of coolness is set by this TV show, and not some half assed movie like Mod Squad...

  • May 2, 2000, 7:44 a.m. CST


    by dougmac

    did it get cancelled or saved? That show is awesome. Driving around in burnt orange volvo station wagon and still kicking ass, taking names, and scoring babes is definately original. By the way this movie looks great too.

  • May 2, 2000, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Does he bone anyone?

    by BobbyDigital

    Yeah but does he shag the arse of some nympho? If Shaft doesn't go at it like a kangaroo on a space hopper what's the fucking point? Shaft is Shaft is a shagging machine. I heard an early report claiming there was little bonking..Is this still the case?

  • May 2, 2000, 8:34 a.m. CST

    SHAFT sounds sweet! Oh, and GvsE rocks!

    by Sam Spade

    I'm really starting to look forward to this movie. I knew that if it was done right, it could be very very cool. I must also agree that GvsE is a killer show. I hope it gets picked up again next year.

  • May 2, 2000, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Well, its reviewed by a guy who just yesterday said...

    by NUXX4

    MICKEY MOUSE CAN BLOW ME! After that, ill buy anything he says.....

  • May 2, 2000, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Sam In Jurassic??

    by Waterdeep

    I Just Checked Tv Guide's Movie DB, And it Didn't Show Him In JP. I Didn't Think I Saw Him In It, Unless It Was An Uncredited Role...... -NR

  • May 2, 2000, 10:16 a.m. CST

    HA! I KNEW IT!

    by utz_world

    something told me all those other sorry ass "i never saw the original so i didn't get it!" reviews were full of it. i agree 100% with Siskel...all SHAFT has to do is kick ass all over the screen and the flick will rock! June 16...i'm in there! by the way...did this latest test screening take place at Paramount Studios on Saturday 4/29? if so, i'm kicking myself because i could have gone to see it. DAMN!

  • May 2, 2000, 10:29 a.m. CST

    The turning tide...

    by SamIAm

    Seems "Shaft" is getting more and more positive buzz. The "Richard Roundtree is Shaft" campaign has failed. Go see the new "Shaft", all you young whippersnappers. But, do yourself a favor and rent the real "Shaft" on the way home. See what a real Bad-Ass Mofo is all about. I just hope there's no Puff Daddy remix in there somewhere.

  • May 2, 2000, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Yep, Waterdeep, SLJ was in JP...

    by agentcooper

    ...He played one of the scientists in Hammond's control room. He smoked all the time and figured out how to get the power back on after Newman ruined everything. Remember when Laura Dern goes into the power station looking for someone, but finds just his arm instead? That's our man Shaft Jules Windu.

  • May 2, 2000, 11:01 a.m. CST

    The original kicks ass. I'm approaching this one with an open mi

    by Mickey Finn

    The original Shaft kicks such major ass, I love it. I'm still going to approach this new one with an open mind, because I don't think there's any point letting the past determine your expectations too much - I'm the kind of guy who loved the old Mission Impossible on TV, but also loved Brian de Palma's take on it (and I'm looking forward to John Woo's). So Shaft doesn't bone all the chicks onscreen this time around? Ah well, I guess he can still be badass without doing that. Listen, I've got a question for TalkBackers - I've never seen the two sequels to the original movie. Are they worth watching? And if they're not good, are they at least fun? I want to know. Also, I saw Isaac Hayes at a music festival three years ago, and the encore was the biggest, most badass epic version of the Shaft theme tune imaginable. I still treasure the memory. The bad news? The band following Hayes on the bill was Jamoraquai. How fucked up is that?

  • May 2, 2000, 1:34 p.m. CST

    To Mickey Finn

    by utz_world

    I've got all 3 Shaft movies on tape...the second, Shaft's Big Score was pretty good. they upped the action but lightened up on the humor...but it's still Shaft. in it, he avenges his friend's murder. the twist is that the guy's business partner did it to get his share of the business to keep from getting killed himself by the Mafia. the third, Shaft In Africa, speaks for itself. our man Shaft is hired by an African king (or something like that) to bust a modern day slave trade that goes from Africa to France. it's more on the James Bond tip than it is Blaxploitation. watch for the scene when the bad guy's oversexed ho...i mean girlfriend...volunteers to be "bait" to catch Mr. Shaft. that scene is a hoot!

  • May 2, 2000, 3:09 p.m. CST

    All Blaxploitation flicks pale to DOLOMITE!

    by Sam Spade

    You have to admit, SHAFT was great, but it also had some semi-mainstream appeal. If you want to see a truly over-the-top blaxploitation film, rent DOLOMITE! That movie is an absolute crack-up. If any of you have seen Old Dirty Bastards "Baby, I Got Your Money" music video, you've seen the DOLOMITE highlight reel. Pimps, hoes, ministers with firearms, crooked white cops...this movie has it all.

  • May 2, 2000, 4:39 p.m. CST


    by SegueZagnut

    I think I will nit-pick here and say... I HAVE SEEN BLAXPLOTION FILMS BEFORE. What I said was I haven't seen the original Shaft. A point that I thought was relevant to some, not to others. I think the genre is okay. I don't love it, but I certainly don't hate it. You know, a good movie is a good movie regardless of genre. As for the Shaft update, the version I saw, just wasn't a good movie. I have heard that they are shooting sex scenes now, so who knows about that part. Consider This..

  • May 2, 2000, 10:53 p.m. CST


    by Lazarus Long

    Good review, DS. I would point out though, that it's hard to do a review of a remake without seeing the original. Some may say that having such a good memory of the original creates a bias when watching a remake, but one of the important question to ask one's self when viewing a remake is: "Was this update necessary?" In most cases the answer is no. If I see this it will be to (1) See Samuel L. Jackson kick some ass (2) See Busta Rimes unleashed on the screen. But somewhere in the back of my mind I'll be thinking, "Remember when John Singleton used to have something to say?"

  • May 3, 2000, 1:07 a.m. CST

    Sam isn't John Shaft

    by Droz

    Richard Roundtree returns in this as John Shaft, Sam is his nephew. So it isn't a remake. The first film was about a gangster's daughter's kidnapping, and Shaft being hired to find her. I don't think the new film has that plot.

  • May 3, 2000, 1:39 a.m. CST

    "Jurassic Shaft"

    by Uncapie

    "Back off, you Fred Flintstone -lookin' muthafucka befor I bust a cap in yo' ass!" This is the movie I'd like to have seen instead of "Viva Rock Vegas."

  • May 4, 2000, 3:26 a.m. CST

    Samuel's perfect forum.

    by ajivecat

  • May 4, 2000, 3:28 a.m. CST

    Samuel's perfect forum.

    by ajivecat

    Err!%!%@! Sorry about that. Anyway, probably the best movie ever would have Samuel doing nothing but beating the everliving shit out of Will Smith for 2 hours...I could seriously never get tired of that.

  • May 4, 2000, 4:01 p.m. CST

    "Peeples" almost stole the movie!

    by Lonewulf6

    I checked this movie out last week and enjoyed it immensely. It was fun seeing several spots of my neighborhood in the movie. I thought that the Dominican crime lord, Peeples, was hilarious. Shaft is a bad ass but Peeples was a bad ass in his own unique way.