Rental Pick: John Singleton’s SHAFT (2000)

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New York City police detective John Shaft (nephew of the original 1970s detective) goes on a personal mission to make sure the son of a real estate tycoon is brought to justice after a racially-motivated murder.

I’ve been curious about this movie for some time but I forgot that it’s available on Netflix streaming. As my hubby and I were in the mood for an action flick, this was a good a time as any to finally check it out. One thing I noticed right away was how young Samuel L. Jackson looked here, though this was made only a decade and a half ago. He’s basically playing the same tough guy character as Nick Fury and a bunch of other action roles – same snarky attitude and that cocky swagger.

It’s interesting to see him go after some rich SOB Walter Wade Jr. played by Christian Bale, the same year he also plays another rich psychopath in American Psycho and 5 years before he plays an even richer guy Bruce Wayne, but at least he uses his privilege for good in those Batman films. He’s quite convincing as some racist bastard, you really wants to punch his smug face every time he’s on screen. But he’s actually not the most memorable villain in this flick, that’d be Jeffrey Wright who plays a ghetto drug kingpin Peoples Hernandez. It’s amusing to see an African American actor playing a Hispanic man, he’s definitely the movie’s scene stealer here.

The rest of the supporting cast was pretty good. Toni Collette is quite memorable here too as the witness Shaft’s trying to convince to testify and rapper Busta Rhymes provides comic relief as Shaft’s frantic driver. I haven’t seen the original Shaft films, but I’m familiar with Richard Roundtree who had a supporting role as Shaft’s uncle. I also like the fact that they didn’t make the beautiful Vanessa Williams to be just the eye candy factor or damsel in distress, in fact she actually saved Shaft in one key scene.

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The movie itself was pretty entertaining – good pacing, interesting characters and dynamic action scenes. Yet it wasn’t just all about car chases and shootouts, as the story was pretty involving but not overly complicated. John Singleton definitely had style and some of the camera work was pretty cool to watch. It’s also quite violent and there are as many F-bombs flying out as there are bullets, I read on IMDb that there were F-word was used 165 times in this movie, wow! At least the violence wasn’t too gratuitous. The finale also still manages to surprise me, and I remember not having recovered yet from the tense scene between Shaft and Hernandez. Not a bad rental and I’m glad I finally saw this one. I’m actually surprised there isn’t a sequel to this, I’d think that it might’ve been a hit back then.

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Have you seen SHAFT? Well, what did you think?

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20 thoughts on “Rental Pick: John Singleton’s SHAFT (2000)

  1. A decent remake of one of the seminal “Blaxploitation” films of the 70s. SLJ turning out to be a fine lead. And yes, Jeffrey Wright was at his scene-stealing best in this. Good one to catch up to, Ruth.

    1. I’ve always enjoyed SLJ basically playing himself, I find him amusing 🙂 But yeah, man that Jeffrey Wright is so good here, steals every scene he’s in effortlessly.

  2. I thought this was a great entertaining action thriller and was bummed that it didn’t make enough money to warrant a sequel. I know that Singleton wants to make another one but with the behind the scenes dramas and lack of interests from the public, Paramount never wanted to make sequels. There’s rumor that they’re now going to reboot it, I think Idris Elba would be perfect as the new Shaft.

    1. Yeah I thought so too! I definitely would be willing to watch the sequel. Ooooh, Idris Elba would make a fiiiiine Shaft, he’s got such swagger!

    1. Oh no, underwhelmed by THIS cast? Say it ain’t so 😀 Just kidding Mark, well it’s not the greatest movie or anything but I quite enjoyed it, esp. w/ that cast!

    1. Hi Josh, was the original SHAFT a TV series? I don’t know if there’s a film version made w/ Richard Roundtree. He made an appearance here again, w/ SLJ playing his nephew. I think it’s worth renting!

      1. Ruth, the original was a film from the early 70s, it actually spawned like two or three sequels. I only remember liking the first and second film. I think the later sequels just got so ridiculous like most film sequels.

        1. Ah ok, somehow I thought they only made a TV series of SHAFT w/ Richard Roundtree. Well, good to know then, I might check out the first film.

    1. I think this one is pretty fun, Drew. I mean Sam Jackson w/ his cocky swagger is amusing to me but it’s Jeffrey Wright’s performance that makes this a must-see!

  3. Tom

    OK I need to see this movie. Anytime SLJ plays a character named ‘Shaft’ I am pretty much guaranteed to love it.

    This sounds fun. Ridiculous fun, but fun nonethemore

    1. Well your instinct is spot on Tom, SLJ is perfect in the role. He’s got that effortless cocky swagger that just works in a role like this. But watch for Jeffrey Wright stealing every scene. Bale is amusing to watch here as well, kind of like a jerk version of Bruce Wayne! 🙂

      1. Tom

        Oh yeah I forgot to comment about Jeffrey Wright. That does at first seem like odd casting but the pic u included in this post actually has me convinced a black dude could pull off a Hispanic role. Very interesting stuff. I’ll bookmark this one.

  4. As soon as I saw the title I couldn’t help but think of the theme song. Can you dig it? No I haven’t seen this movie yet. I actually never heard of it. Why do you think that Christian Bale seems to be the prototype for rich and arrogant men? HMMMM my husband met him and did not like him at all, he was very mean and just overall rude!

    1. Wow, your hubby met Christian Bale? Too bad he’s mean & rude in real life but he doesn’t strike me as a people person. Most of the guys I’m crushing on usually are pretty friendly. I mean Toby for sure is, based on ppl who’ve met him, and Stanley seems gracious in interviews too.

      1. Yeah he used to work at a high end fancy restaurant in Philadelphia so he would always meet famous people. He said Bale was the worst overall. He met Steve Buscemi at a bar around there and he was so nice he bought him a drink. I am trying to think who else, but Bale that just made me sad to hear that!

  5. Pingback: Movie Review – Krampus |

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