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SHAFT'S BIG SCORE! ($25) is the upscale sequel to the blaxploitation classic SHAFT. Richard Roundtree returns as the badass New York private detective John Shaft in this action packed second outing. Shortly after Shaft receives a late night call from Cal Asby (Robert Kya-Hill) looking for help, Asby is killed in a bomb blast. As Shaft tries to find out who killed Asby, his investigation leads to various mobsters scrambling for territory and looking for a big stash of missing loot. The central figure in Shaft’s investigation turns out to be John Kelly (Wally Taylor), Asby’s former partner. As it turns out, Kelly is seriously into hock to a mobster named Mascola (Joseph Mascolo), but he isn’t above making deals with Harlem crime lord Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn), a well as double-crossing everyone who gets in his way. The plot of SHAFT'S BIG SCORE! is fairly simple, but the movie has a whole lot of attitude, as well as a climatic high speed car, helicopter and boat chase. The cast of SHAFT'S BIG SCORE! also includes Drew Bundini Brown, Kathy Imrie, Julius W. Harris, Rosalind Miles and Joe Santos.

Warner Home Video offers SHAFT'S BIG SCORE! on a dual sided DVD that includes both full screen and 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentations. The full screen version crops away fare too much of the film’s ‘scope framing; so don’t waste your time. With its 2.35:1 proportions in place, SHAFT'S BIG SCORE! is fairly impressive looking. Film grain, which was quite apparent on the low budget original, remains in check on this more expensive sequel. Additionally, the film element is in very good condition; showing very few age-related markings. Image quality is quite good; with everything appearing as crisp and detailed as this 1972 release could possibly look on NTSC video. Colors are a little subdued in outdoor sequences, although the interiors offer somewhat better saturated. For some reason, the reds tend to be very vibrant, which tends to make everything else on screen pale by comparison. Flesh tones appear realistic and there are no discernable flaws in any other area of color reproduction. Blacks are accurately rendered and the level of shadow detail is decent for a film pushing thirty.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is cleaner sounding than the original (the higher budget must have helped in this area too). Dialogue is always intelligible, but the music does show evidence of the frequency limitations one associates with older monaural soundtracks. A French language soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Music has been added to the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and setup features. Trailers for all three SHAFT movies and a biography for director Gordon Parks is included as supplements.

SHAFT'S BIG SCORE! is solid blaxploitation entertainment. If you are a fan, then this DVD is worth checking out.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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