Update early 2015
To paraphrase Isaac Hayes, and my intro for my review of The Warriors, there are many ways to begin talkin’ ‘bout Shaft, but I, perhaps by necessity, will begin by talkin’ ‘bout Shaft. And by Shaft I mean Richard Roundtree’s Shaft, the film’s central character, and the way the film is so fascinated with him even when it seems to be going through the motions of an honestly rather tepid plot-line. Yes, Shaft has to spent the majority of his film Shaft, and it is his film mind you, searching about for the daughter of a black gangster, kidnapped by a white gangster. And yes, he needs to find her to prevent an all-out race war from flooding the streets. But that really isn’t important – what is important is Shaft himself, not so much what he has to do, but the sheer fact of the man. More simply put, what makes Shaft work is not that what Shaft is doing is particularly noteworthy, but that it is Shaft himself who is doing those things, and having his way with them. Got that?