Shaft Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

JJ Shaft Jr. (Jesse T Asher) is an FBI analyst in the department that investigates a possible terrorist threat posed by the Rashad Mosque in Harlem.

One day after work, JJ met with his former classmates Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) and Kareem (Evan Jogia). Karim fought in Iraq, upon returning home he got addicted to drugs from hopelessness, Sasha and Jay Jay were very worried about him. But then Karim went to the Brothers Watching Brothers organization, where former soldiers help other soldiers adapt to civilian life, and stopped using drugs.

The next day, JJ was horrified to learn that Karim had been found dead in the morning. The official conclusion of the cause of death is an overdose of heroin. But JJ does not believe this: he had seen Karim a few hours before and Karim was absolutely clean.

JJ, using the FBI, took out a medical certificate about the death of Karim, showed it to Sasha, and she said that their friend simply could not physically inject himself with such a horse dose, so this is clearly not a clean thing.

JJ went to the 139th Street area where Kareem’s body was found, and found out that a certain Manuel was selling drugs in the area. Jay Jay’s attempt to talk to Manuel, as expected, did not give anything: Manuel’s henchmen simply slapped the guy in the face.

And then JJ realized that he had no choice but to seek help from his father, the legendary private detective John Shaft (Samuel L Jackson), from whom JJ’s mother Maya (Regina Hall) left twenty-five years ago, from -because John Shaft was constantly getting into gunfights.

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Somehow I missed this movie in 2019. His rating was not high (but not to say that it was below the baseboard), I also vaguely remembered that I had already seen Jackson in a similar half-ass on the cover and the word “Shaft” also appeared there, only that was twenty years ago, – well, in general, did not look.

And then my wife and I were choosing what to watch, and we wanted to watch something action-packed and fun, because there was no mood to watch the new dramas scheduled for viewing, well, I stumbled upon this film, because with decent comedies the last few years there has been a serious tense, and here only comedy action movies somehow save the situation, because there are just a lot of them and Samuel L Jackson often plays in them. Well, just this “Shaft” fell under the arms.

And we liked it. The film, of course, is a one-time movie, it is nothing special, and if you do not watch it, then it will not leave a gaping cultural hole in your soul, but if you want to relax with a glass of wine on Friday evening, then this picture will not should offend your optic nerve.

When after watching I went to read information about this film, I found out that I was not mistaken about Samuel Jackson in the exact same half-ass in Shaft. Because it turned out to be a whole franchise. Moreover, the first film based on the book of the same name by Ernest Tidyman was filmed back in 1971! Detective Shaft was played by Richard Roundtree, the picture was made in the style of “blackplotation”, that is, shot by black guys for black guys – with appropriate jokes, appropriate stereotypes, and so on – and this film among a certain audience became a virtual cult: many black boys of that time dreamed of becoming as cool as the legendary detective Shaft.

Also, the picture noticeably influenced some other paintings in the style of “blacksploitation” and caused a lot of imitations: the same then “Dolemite” used some templates from “Shaft”.

The picture cost half a million, earned 13 million at the box office, showing a fantastic KKU 26 (from 3 – the picture has already paid off), while, as I read, the picture actually saved the MGM studio from bankruptcy.

Then, in the seventies, two sequels were filmed – “Shaft’s Big Luck” and “Shaft in Africa”, but they were no longer so popular. Also on the CBS channel, the Shaft series was launched, in which the same Richard Roundtree played.

The franchise was restarted in 2000 with the release of Detective Shaft. The same legendary Shaft, played by Richard Roundtree in the new film, passed the baton to his nephew John Shaft, played by Samuel L Jackson. The new Shaft was just as tough, he was also extremely difficult to kill on the road, and this Shaft professed the same values ​​​​as his famous uncle: he could drink at nine in the morning, did not follow the letter and spirit of the law too much when conducting investigations, and he fought with bad white guys (Christian Bale played the worst white guy at the time).

The New Line Cinema studio had been planning to continue the franchise since 2015, but the project got off the ground when they found an understanding with the streaming service Netflix: they agreed to invest in the project for the right to show the picture in their catalog.

What is the new “Shaft”? The main idea and the main approach have been carefully preserved in it – this, of course, is not at all a “blackploitation” from the seventies, but certain elements of it are present: cool black guys let bad white guys clear their throats, and now the completely unfashionable theme of the cool masculinity of John Shaft, the average, is also being actively pedaled. , played here again by Samuel L Jackson.

Also in the presence of completely politically incorrect statements by Shaft-average, frankly sexist and vulgar jokes, which in a modern American film looks somewhat exotic and at the same time nostalgic.

But, by the way, the creators of the picture made a certain feint with their ears. To anticipate accusations of intolerance, sexism and other mortal sins, they balanced John Shaft, the middle one, with JJ – John Shaft, Jr., who was raised by his mother according to the script, and now he is not a true cool Shaft, but some kind of damn millennial: he does not know how to to stand up for himself, does not like weapons, tries to negotiate with everyone, cannot invite a girl he likes on a date, cannot rebuff a crazed boss, and so on.

However, since JJ still has to solve a serious case along with his politically incorrect dad (Shaft Sr. was also expected to be invited for the final “scene at the factory”), this is where the clash of the old and the new will be shown, and since Shaft Jr., after all, finally cleared up and showed himself well done, then we understand that it is he, the millennial, who has the future, and the old Shafts, for all their steepness, are already an obsolete anachronism, without which the investigation would not have happened. Here is such a dualism, his mother: excuse me for using such an expression in polite society as some kind of damn Shaft-average.

JJ is played by Jessie T Asher. He is quite good in the paradigm of his script character: a kind of nerd at the beginning and a new steepness at the end, but against the backdrop of the completely reinforced concrete charisma of Samuel L Jackson, he is noticeably lost. Which, in principle, does not harm the picture in any way, because that is how it is intended.

Samuel Jackson himself, in his seventy (!) years, is absolutely gorgeous! True, his Shaft is somewhat reminiscent of Jackson’s character from “The Killer’s Bodyguard”, but personally I’m quite happy with it, Jackson is just great here. And at the age of seventy with such enthusiasm to act in cool action movies – few people are capable of this, except him. By the way, Richard Roundtree, who played Shaft Sr. here, is only six years older than Jackson!

Sasha, played by Alexandra Shipp, is pretty and charming, Regina Hall, as Maya, JJ’s mother, did not disappoint either. Luna Lauren Velez (Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta from Dexter) played a small role as the owner of a shop where dirty cocaine money was laundered, and Titus Welliver (he played in many places, but probably his most striking role was in Sons of Anarchy) is here acted in a slightly caricatured role as Chief JJ at the FBI.

I liked this movie, I’m glad I saw it. Yes, there is nothing new here, in general, there is, on the contrary, it is rather an old style from the series “they don’t shoot like that now”, despite certain indulgence of the tastes of the millennials, but this is exactly what I liked this picture. To be honest, it doesn’t matter to me what color the protagonist of what color the antagonist kicks ass: a black guy for a white guy, a yellow guy for a blue guy, or a gray-brown-crimson guy for a transparent guy. I need story, humor and dynamics.

The story here – I don’t argue at all – is clichéd and primitive, but there is enough humor, and everything is quite good with the dynamics (a few skirmishes were quite jaunty). Add to this a few good jokes, specifically the burning Samuel Jackson, quite decent other roles and well-chosen music (old hits – rulez forever) – you get a picture that you can really enjoy yourself. Moreover, you can safely watch only this film, without viewing, so to speak, the history of the issue. Because the history of the question is of purely culturological interest, whatever the given term “culturological” may mean in general.

Well, a couple of photos.

Jackson in the 2000 film.

Roundtree in the 1971 film.

Shaft movie review

Director: Tim Storey Cast: Samuel L Jackson, Jesse T Asher, Richard Roundtree, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Matt Lauria, Titus Welliver, Method Man, Isaac De Bankole, Evan Jogia

Budget: $30 million

Action comedy, USA, 2019, 111 min.

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