Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.28%
Worth A Look42.06%
Just Average: 22.43%
Pretty Crappy: 14.02%
Sucks: 11.21%

8 reviews, 59 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Human Lost by Jay Seaver

Tammy and the T-Rex by Jay Seaver

Extra Ordinary by Jay Seaver

Daniel Isn't Real by Jay Seaver

Midsommar by Rob Gonsalves

Blood on Her Name by Jay Seaver

Parasite (2019) by Peter Sobczynski

American Fighter by Jay Seaver

Moon in the Hidden Woods, The by Jay Seaver

Homewrecker (2019) by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Shaft (2000)
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Major talents working below their gifts; entertaining enough, though."
4 stars

A movie like 'Shaft' is a tough call. Do you praise it for offering bold talent in the service of a routine urban thriller, or do you criticize it for the same reason?

Everyone involved in Shaft is beyond Shaft, from the stars (Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Wright, Christian Bale, Toni Collette) to the director (John Singleton) to the initial screenwriter (Richard Price, whose script was retooled by Singleton and Shane Salerno). At heart, Shaft is just a retro revenge thriller, with its conflicts made storybook-simple (the good guys are righteous; the bad guys are really bad).

Yet the plot becomes almost incidental, and so do the standard shoot-outs and car chases. The real appeal of Shaft is its acting teamwork; no '70s blaxploitation movie ever had such an entertaining cast. For instance, Christian Bale, as the prerequisite skunky rich white boy whose racist venom sets the plot in motion, approaches his character as a cross between American Psycho's Patrick Bateman and a spoiled frat boy. His character, Walter Wade, develops an unlikely partnership with Latino drug kingpin Peoples Hernandez (Jeffrey Wright), and the two diametrically opposed actors Bale and Wright are so unaccountably right together that you forget whatever else is going on in the movie.

Samuel L. Jackson may or may not break into the Hollywood A-list after this movie, the first major Hollywood production he has been allowed to carry, but if he doesn't, it won't be for lack of trying. His John Shaft (the nephew of the original Shaft -- Richard Roundtree, who appears here) owes just about everything to Jackson's towering presence, his effortless charisma and unquestionable authority. Roundtree, playing Shaft way back in 1971, didn't quite seem tough enough for the role; you felt that people backed down from him only because the script demanded it. With Jackson, you understand why people back down.

The only people who don't fear or respect Shaft are the aforementioned Wade and Peoples, both of whom have made Shaft's "asses to kick" list. Peoples, a half-pint thug with plans to move his drugs in a more upscale market, goes into cahoots with Wade to find and kill a witness (Toni Collette) to Wade's hate crime. The plot thickens, with corrupt cops (including the underused Dan Hedaya) getting in on the action, and you can hear the cynical zing of Richard Price's voice in a lot of the underhanded dealings and street talk. I bet it was Price, for example, who thought up the insensitive cop (Lee Tergesen of Oz) who's given to racist jokes but also turns out to be helpful to Shaft at a key point in his scheme against Peoples.

John Singleton's direction is smooth and competent, if not quite inspired; he's certainly an improvement on the original Shaft's director, Gordon Parks, whose work was clunky and amateurish (the film looks as if they used the first take of every scene). The 1971 Shaft had a vivid supporting role, though -- Moses Gunn as Bumpy, the suave gangster who hired Shaft to find his daughter. Shaft (and the movie) had little but contempt for Bumpy, who sold drugs and gambling to black people, but Bumpy didn't care; he let it all roll off. This movie's Bumpy is Peoples, and Jeffrey Wright comes through with an equally suave performance studded with menace. There's an amazing moment in which a grief-stricken Peoples advances on Shaft while stabbing himself (non-fatally) with his own ice-pick; it's as if to say, "I'm so bad-ass I can do this to myself -- imagine what I'm gonna do to you."

This Shaft is probably the best possible Shaft, given its inherent limitations. The original Shaft hasn't aged well at all; back in 1971, it was received eagerly by a black audience starving to see themselves in the same sort of action thriller they'd been watching white folks in for decades. Shaft was a shrewd commercial concoction packaged mainly by whites (Shaft was created by novelist Ernest Tidyman, a white guy) and accepted by black viewers as a symbol of empowerment. Today, though, we've seen so many dozens of variations on Shaft that bringing him back, even in name only, just seems like a nostalgia trip.

'Shaft' would look better if we hadn't seen the infinitely cooler 'Ghost Dog' earlier the same year; it would look better if we hadn't seen any of John Singleton's previous films. But if a new 'Shaft' had to be made, we can at least be grateful that it wound up in the hands of people who know what they're doing. On a summer-movie level, 'Shaft' is a worthy diversion. But only on that level.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1794&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/13/07 20:53:15
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell pretty good nothing more 4 stars
3/02/11 chris c Jackson is a badass mother, Bale and Wright are hateful mothers but Rhymes is annoying 4 stars
1/30/11 Phineas Time for PC remake with WHITE Man as Shaft,and Black/Jew villain!!!! 1 stars
5/18/09 action movie fan a rare casw when a redo is better than the firts-one of 2000,s best films 5 stars
10/30/05 Wisamane Lmao it was horribly entertaining 5 stars
8/12/05 ES Mr. jackson wasted on a bland and unsavable script 2 stars
8/04/05 R.W. Welch Tough cop actioner has decent acting, but routine overall. 3 stars
10/09/04 rick terrazas no cop gets away with that much bull 3 stars
5/23/04 Butterbean Weak and miscasted. I hated the first movie, but this made me give it a second look. 1 stars
2/14/04 J Movie was kind of boring, but the theme song was thigh. 3 stars
6/23/03 Jack Bourbon Man, I don't mind dissin' whitey, but this was idiotically, hatefully, ridiculously racist. 2 stars
3/24/03 Jack Sommersby Repugnant and atrociously made. 1 stars
2/21/03 spacecowboy-00x "SHAFT!....you're DAMN RIGHT" 4 stars
7/21/02 Croweater A boring & shallow film with stereotyped characters, crappy script and weak directing. 2 stars
2/25/02 Jenny Tullwartz Cop so mean I was pulling for suspect to be innocent (which PC predictably forbade) 1 stars
1/23/02 Andrew Carden Such A Pale and Weak Remake Of The Original 70's Flick. 1 stars
10/16/01 jawsboy bale is cool, but the movie gave me the "SHAFT", wait, not like that..very realistic though 3 stars
9/04/01 Bada Bing Crosby Jeffrey Wright was much better than the movie; Bale was ridic 2 stars
8/31/01 Butterbean This movie was as bad as it's predecessor! 2 stars
8/13/01 Fish Eye Very realistic cop movie - Jackson is awesome and so is Jeffrey Wright 5 stars
5/21/01 I love movies Bale was cool but the movie sucked 1 stars
4/03/01 Jesse L Samuel L.Jackson makes it worth a look...nothing else 4 stars
2/12/01 CJ O' Callaghan I came out of the cinema embarrassed - that i was dumb enough to see this piece of shit 1 stars
1/22/01 Darryl Elvers Unbelievable, kills with 9mm, but escapes machine gun fire. 1 stars
1/22/01 Spetters A good piece of entertainment. Jackon Rules! 4 stars
12/27/00 Tom good point, he's a millionaire, why the hell is he selling jewelery and dealing drugs??! 3 stars
12/19/00 The Bomb 69 didn't make sense, why would Bale character sell drugs when daddy can send him to Europe??? 2 stars
11/20/00 iulian Tocu bad music, a film for kids 2 stars
9/27/00 Matthew Bartley very surprised by how good this was and Samuel is the man 5 stars
7/25/00 Heather Jackson plays one cool m.f. so shut your mouth! 5 stars
7/06/00 W.Wayde A lot more complicated plot, so movie was really intense. Jackson rocks the fuckin house 5 stars
7/04/00 Politicsman You damn right!!!! Nothin' beats the original! 3 stars
6/29/00 burton miller i don't know if there is enough ass in the world for this movie to suck 1 stars
6/27/00 malcolm Shaft chasing one bar room brawler for the whole movie kinda trivialized the character 3 stars
6/26/00 Andy Webster Better than expected for one reason, the host of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego 5 stars
6/26/00 PJ The movie should have been called Peoples Hernandez, cause he stole the whole show, whole!! 4 stars
6/26/00 Overflow Bitch Pleasantly suprised... Samuel L Jackson is a great Shaft. 4 stars
6/25/00 Captain Highcrime But doesn't everybody wish they had a John Shaft patrolling the streets of their town? 4 stars
6/25/00 Bubby KoHawk said it all in his review. Add unrealistic dialogue. 1 stars
6/25/00 kim boyd Peoples was awesome! He needs his own movie. I was captivated by him. 4 stars
6/23/00 koHawk shitty acting, predictable plot, movie sucks 1 stars
6/22/00 g g 5 stars
6/21/00 Peter Smith How believable is a Shaft that doesn't get laid? 2 stars
6/20/00 Japtalian Jeffrey Wright as Peoples Hernandez does a remarkable acting job. 3 stars
6/20/00 Reverend Krule Richard Roundtree gets all the fly honeys in the end 5 stars
6/20/00 PhilmPhreak A good time at the movies! Samuel Jackson=da man! 4 stars
6/20/00 wooHaa anemic plot, "bad guys" are pussy-whipped, and vanessa isn't the main babe 1 stars
6/19/00 Cheeseboy This movie is one great mother SHUT YOUR MOUTH! 5 stars
6/19/00 Jokko While Jackson is performing solidly, Bale and Wright steal the show in a big way. 4 stars
6/19/00 MC Cheese A+ for bringing Richard Roundtree back, better on the second viewing. 4 stars
6/19/00 Obi Wan Not bad at all...Hollywood managed not to fuck this up! Jax and Peoples were good! 4 stars
6/19/00 Krystal Jackson kicks major ass, but story itself was choppy & unremarkable 3 stars
6/18/00 Jason Kallelis Not bad, not bad at all. Now I have to see the original... 5 stars
6/18/00 koHawk After my buzz wore off, I realized I was watching a terrible movie. 2 stars
6/18/00 cinesuerte rent it instead, not that good 3 stars
6/18/00 William D'Angelo a fine update of the original 4 stars
6/17/00 Clarance not bad! They sure did a bang up job with what they had 3 1/2 starz... 3 stars
6/16/00 FilmStar Pretty cool...Jackson was *awesome* and Bale was hot as usual (even if he was a dick) 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  16-Jun-2000 (R)


  26-Oct-2000 (M)

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast