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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.48%
Worth A Look58.62%
Just Average: 3.45%
Pretty Crappy: 3.45%
Sucks: 0%

3 reviews, 11 user ratings

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by Irredeemable

"Gutter Poetry"
5 stars

There is absolutely no reason Jack Hill's COFFY has any business being as good as it is. Like the backwoods hillbilly who is blessed with a 180 IQ, this film seems like a whole bunch of talent thrown in the wrong place at the wrong time but nevertheless is truly exceptional.

Yes, the subject matter is absurd and, yes, the acting and production values are mainly unpolished, but these warts cannot hide the fact that COFFY is a film overflowing with energy and cockeyed brilliance. The movie is essential viewing for anyone who is serious about studying great filmmaking.

If someone were to tie Picasso's left hand behind his back, put a patch over his right eye and give him two primary colors to work with, what kind of paintings could he produce? I would bet nothing as terrific as Hill's oeuvre, produced mainly under the same sorts of straitened circumstances.

Jack Hill was a contemporary of Francis Ford Coppola. They are the same age and came up at the same time, even co-writing early Roger Corman horror films together. Somewhere in the mid 60s their career paths spilt. Coppola became an internationally celebrated and worshipped filmmaker and Jack Hill's career took a nose-dive into obscurity, as he churned out drive-in exploitation flicks at an annual clip. When one thinks of Hill during this time period, the image of Burt Reynolds's character in BOOGIE NIGHTS comes to mind: a man of manners and grace surrounded by degradation. While Hill never had much of anything in the way of cinematic prestige, he was an incredibly instinctive natural born filmmaker, and COFFY is his masterpiece.

This is a film that greatly exceeds the black exploitation genre in ways that only a mad genius could accomplish (accomplishments that went completely unnoticed by most viewers and, seemingly, all reviewers of the time period). Hill had to have known this was going to happen. Would anyone who paid money to see Coffy in the theaters be going for any reason other than to see big titties and cheer on the torturing of pimps? The answer is no. As much as Coppola's THE CONVERSATION (released the same year) is praised, COFFY is superior to that great film. And what is so wonderful is that there is no reason it should be! This is a movie that is marvelous in spite of everything! Preconceived notions are ripped away, prejudices are tossed aside, snob-appeal has egg splattered all over its face. Hurray for COFFY. Thank God for its existence. Directors have no excuses for their miserable movies. If COFFY can be this great, ANY project has that potential!

The backdrop here is a genrefied urban black existence that is by equal turns sexually degrading and brutally sadistic. The violence in the film is raw and fierce and extremely cleverly designed. Pam Grier, who plays Coffy, has quite possibly the most thrilling introduction scene in all of cinema. I believe Quentin Tarantino has spent his entire career trying to write a scene as good as COFFY's opening stanza.

Throughout the film, characters are killed and maimed in horrifying ways, but somehow it never seems gratuitous. There's a manic logic of comeuppance going on here, but characters are never judged. The story itself has been told a thousand times before, using a standard revenge formula, but from scene to scene the beats are impossible to predict and the pitch perfectly executed. Hill is a very careful filmmaker, and a tremendous manipulator of viewer emotions.

I suppose there is much in COFFY that can be construed as offensive to some people, but I would suggest a more playful, imaginative spirit while screening the picture.

If you just let the film unfold without any personal political stance or PC hang-ups, you are sure to enjoy this movie like a fine bottle of 1982 Rothschild.

And isn't that lovely? We live in a world where unmistakable brilliance can be found and appreciated even in the most unlikely, discarded pieces of art.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5018&reviewer=341
originally posted: 05/26/03 02:28:55
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User Comments

11/07/10 Sheena This is the best revenge movie EVER!!!!!! 5 stars
2/01/10 Stefan Kucharski Good 70's film atmosphere, great story and violence 5 stars
7/04/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Not bad, but 'Foxy Brown' is better 3 stars
4/04/08 mr.mike Even better than Foxy Brown. PG is incredibly hot. 4 stars
5/13/07 smoking bogie crashing into a house and jumping out with your gun cocked? still pretty good 4 stars
11/11/03 KIRK This is one of the finest movies Pam grier has made. Film is absolutely great! 5 stars
1/17/03 Paul Coleman Great exploitative trash. Entertaining from start to finish. A must see! 4 stars
2/08/02 Jay Fox Pam Grier is one of the all time greatest blaxpoitation actresses. Jack Hill's masterpiece. 5 stars
1/13/02 Andrew Carden Too Much Nudity, but Otherwise It's A Good Time-Killer. 4 stars
9/05/01 Butterbean Blaxploitation movies mostly are crap. The exceptions were Grier's Foxy Brown and this 4 stars
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  02-Nov-1973 (R)



Directed by
  Jack Hill

Written by
  Jack Hill

  Pam Grier
  Booker Bradshaw
  Robert DoQui
  William Elliott
  Allan Arbus
  Sid Haig

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