Academy Awards 1971 -
Best Original Song: Isaac Hayes
Total Film - 08/01/2000
"...The last 25 minutes are an object lesson in the art of ending a movie with a bang..." -- 4 out of 5 stars
USA Today - 06/16/2000
"...Gordon Parks remains one of the past century's great still photographers....[The film] still surprises with a visual shoddiness that's ultimately part of its off-the-cuff charm..."
Entertainment Weekly - 01/11/2002
"...It's cool legacy hasn't mellowed..."
Premiere - 12/01/2003
"John Shaft was an in-charge, blatantly virile hero, with attitude to spare."
Following the breakout success of Melvin Van Peebles's SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG, Gordon Parks' SHAFT would officially launch the historic Blaxploitation movement. Based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman, the film stars Richard Roundtree as John Shaft, a debonair, tough-talking private detective, who became a full-fledged American archetype after the film was released. Combining street smarts and sharp wit, Shaft is the quintessential black action hero. After battling against Harlem gang kingpin Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn), Shaft decides to help rescue Bumpy's daughter from the Mafia. What follows is an action-packed thrill ride through the rough-and-tumble streets of early 1970s New York City.
Featuring one of the most recognizable theme songs in movie history (for which Isaac Hayes' won a Best Song Oscar in 1972), Parks' follow-up to his critically acclaimed, though monetarily disappointing, drama THE LEARNING TREE remains the definitive Blaxploitation film. Roundtree delivers a legendary performance as the ultra-cool detective, in this groundbreaking film that would spawn two sequels (SHAFT'S BIG SCORE! and SHAFT IN AFRICA) and a big-budget remake in 2000.
In this quintessential blaxploitation film, Richard Roundtree is Shaft: a good looking, tough-talking private detective hired to rescue a gangster's daughter from kidnappers.