Gordon Parks Jr. (son of the director of Shaft) proves with his 1972 blaxploitation film, Superfly, that it is not easy for the son to surpass the father. Superfly isn’t a bad film. There are some elements I enjoy, but there’s so much padding. The film is too slow for me to really appreciate it.
The film is about a drug dealer named Priest (he snorts cocaine off a cross), played by Ron O’Neal, trying to get rich on one final score. He has to deal with corrupt cops (AKA “The Man”) and incompetent dealers, before he can get the score and get out of the biz. The entire film is just Priest running around dealing drugs, having sex with chicks, and being a what can best be described as a dick. Priest is not an interesting character. He isn’t charismatic and his jive talk is minimal. He lacks the confidence that made Richard Roundtree’s Shaft such a smooth protagonist. I lack any investment in this character’s ordeals. Priest’s mustache belongs on a french supervillain, and his hair belongs on a french supermodel. The only thing Priest has going for him is his smooth voice. He also wears tighty whities (Bryan Cranston is the only person who can pull off tighty whities and remain respectable).
The rest of the characters are forgettable. I remember Freddy (not for being a character, but because he had the best theme song). The women aren’t women in this film; they are sex objects. All the characters either act straightforward or act like they don’t care.
Drug dealing is glorified in this film. There are constant statements about how this is the life and how foolish it would be to leave it behind. The drug dealers are made to look cool. If the filmmakers wanted to get across a realistic, hard-knock life for inner city drug dealers, they failed miserably.
This film isn’t all dull. It has a great bath shag between Priest and one of his many beautiful ladies. The sex scene is shot in soft light, is close up enough to be intimate, but not too close to be awkward. There is a great still photo montage of the daily lives of drug dealers. It has energy and style and lets the viewer see the way dealers interact with a variety of clients. The best scene, by far, is at the end, where Priest has a great cheesy slo-mo fight with “The Man.” People get knocked out, even if Priest is punching 3 feet away from them. Priest also lays out some good jive talk in his confrontation with “The Man (finally).” The rest of the film should have tried to be more like these scenes; if it had, this film would have been a blast.
The other great part of this film is the soundtrack, but it also serves as the film’s downfall. Check out the noteworthy scenes from this film and then listen to the soundtrack; it will be a much more enjoyable experience.
Favorite piece of dialogue: “Turn me on and you wont have to take none of the weight at all.” -Priest when speaking to his mentor not his girlfriend.
Written By Tyler Ducheneaux
Images from Superfly