Shaft is a 2019 action comedy film produced & directed by Tim Story. (Fantastic Four 1/2, Ride Along 1/2, Kevin Hart specials, & Barbershop). It’s a direct sequel to the 2000 film. It’s the fifth feature in the Shaft franchise. It was written by Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Grown-ish, Mixed-ish, & Coming 2 America) & Alex Barnow (The Goldbergs, Family Guy, Rules of Engagement, & ‘Til Death). It was produced by It was produced by Richard Brener (The Kitchen, Shazam!, The Curse of La Llorona, The Nun, IT, Rampage, & Tag), Ira Napoliello (The Predator, Flash Gordon, & Invasion of the Body Snatchers), & (There’s Something About Mary, Shallow Hal, Game Night, Vacation, Leaving Las Vegas, & Dumb and Dumber To). Netflix signed a deal with New Line Cinema to cover more than half of the film’s $30 million budget in exchange for the rights, which allowed Netflix to release the film on its platform outside of the United States two weeks after the theatrical release. It grossed $21.4 million at the box office.
In 1989, John Shaft II (played by: Samuel L. Jackson from Shaft, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pulp Fiction, & Unbreakable/Glass) with his wife Maya Babanikos (played by: Regina Hall from Scary Movie franchise, Barbershop: The Next Cut, & Law Abiding Citizen) & his infant son John “JJ” Shaft Jr. survive an assassination attempt by drug lord Pierro “Gordito” Carrera (played by: Isaach De Bankolé from Black Panther, Casino Royale, 24, & Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai). Concerned that Shaft II’s lifestyle will put them in danger, Maya leaves him & raises JJ on her own. 25 years later, JJ (played by: Jessie T. Usher from The Boys, Independence Day: Resurgence, Ride, & Level Up) is an FBI agent & a cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT. After his childhood friend Karim (played by: Avan Jogia from Zombieland: Double Tap) dies of a heroin overdose, JJ concludes he must have been murdered. JJ travels to Harlem to investigate Manuel, the drug dealer who runs the neighborhood & sold the heroin that allegedly killed Karim but he is violently ejected from his property. While being treated for a minor injury in the hospital by JJ’s other childhood friend Sasha (played by: Alexandra Shipp from the X-Men franchise, Straight Outta Compton, Tragedy Girls, & Love, Simon), he shows her Karim’s toxicology report. She notes that the amount of heroin in Karim’s system would have killed him long before he could have taken that much by himself, suggesting that he was indeed murdered. With no other recourse, JJ turns to Shaft II for aid. Shaft II agrees to help after realizing that JJ’s case may lead him to Gordito. The two begin investigating together which leads them to “Brothers Watching Brothers”, the drug rehab clinic Karim was a part of. There they learn that Karim stopped going to rehab in favor of attending services at a mosque currently under suspicion by the FBI for terrorism. They take their investigation to a convenience store owned by a woman named Bennie Rodriguez (played by: Lauren Velez from OZ, Dexter, The First Purge, & Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) who donated $500,000 to the mosque. They run into some serious trouble which forces Shaft II to kick his son off the case. JJ turns over the evidence they have gathered to the FBI, who arrest the mosque’s imam. However, the media accuses the FBI of Islamophobia & JJ’s boss Vietti (played by: Titus Welliver from The Town, Bosch, Escape Plan 2: Hades, & Sons of Anarchy) fires him. JJ finds out that his father was using him the entire time to get closer to Gordito. They learn more about Karim & what really got him killed. John Shaft Sr. (played by: Richard Roundtree from Shaft 2000, Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score!, Shaft in Africa, & Shaft TV series) joins his son & grandson to end all this crime around their community. Can these three generations come together & stop the evil that pollutes their city before it’s too late????
If you remember the 2000 version of Shaft, this sequel is a little confusing at times. In the previous adaptation, the original Shaft was Shaft II’s uncle. In this 2019 version, he is now his father which is very weird & it makes no sense. I am guessing they were all hoping fans forgot about that or haven’t seen that movie at all because it’s a rather big change when it comes to the family. I consider this more of a new reboot of the 2000 feature because it ignores other stuff from it also. That’s the biggest issue I had with this, I thought it had the perfect balance of action & humor. Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, & Richard Roundtree had excellent chemistry together. It was awesome to see three different Shafts in the same film. I thought it was much better than the Paramount Shaft movie that came before this. Regardless, I am glad that Samuel L. Jackson is still getting major roles & movies every once in awhile. I am a huge fan of the franchise, it had the right tone with this one compared to the originals. Speaking of the originals, Richard Roundtree only shows towards the end so don’t expect a huge part from him but it’s a very important one. It had a solid cast which includes Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Titus Welliver, Method Man, Luna Lauren Velez, & Isaach De Bankolé. It’s a mix of several different sub-genres here, it has a little bit of everything. It’s really fun & entertaining, I had a blast with this. The replay value is strong & the script knew exactly what it was doing with this homage to the great blaxploitation flicks. It was cool to see something like this displayed to the mainstream. Unfortunately, it didn’t do that great at the box office so I am not sure if we will ever see a follow up to this, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Bros! This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks solid on blu ray, I am not surprised that it didn’t get a 4K release. It’s a straight forward film. It doesn’t rely on any crazy visuals, it’s more realistic in it’s approach. It has two different audio options which includes English: Dolby Atmos & English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on the release. The dialogue is crystal clear, the action has a nice boost to it, & the impressive soundtrack/score is elevated here. It also has English SDH subtitles. It’s not going to be displayed for reference quality when it comes to your collection but both picture & sound stay above the technical standards here.
Let’s discuss the special features from Warner Bros! “Can Ya Dig It? The Making of Shaft” is almost 11 minutes. It has interviews with director Tim Story, writer Kenya Barris, actors Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, & Richard Roundtree. They chat about rebooting the legendary franchise & character. They talk about the humor in it. They bring up the original Shaft & having to get it right. They chat about the cast & their chemistry together. “A Complicated Man: The Shaft Legacy ” is broken down into three different segments which includes the almost 16 minute “A Bad Mother Born”, the little over 14 minute “No Questions Asked” &the almost 14 minute “A Legend of His Time”. It has interviews with actors Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson, Regina Hall, Michael Jai White, & a few Shaft experts/fans. This is a very detailed look at the Shaft franchise & character. They rarely talk about the 2000 version because that was released by Paramount but they cover the rest of the series here with loads of information. They chat about the original book. They talk about the first film, it’s director, & how Richard Roundtree got the iconic role. They show their appreciation for creator Ernest Tidyman & filmmaker Gordon Parks. They mention the impact it had with the blaxploitation sub-genre. They chat about it being made the same time as Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song but it just came out later. They bring up all the influence it had on other films including several rip offs & future directors. They talk about the sequels & TV series that were made. They bring up the rise & fall of blaxploitation. The 5 “Deleted Scenes” that run for almost 3 minutes which includes “Shaft Helps Drunk JJ Get Home”, “JJ & Shaft Enter El Super Mercado Fantastico”, “JJ & Shaft Leave El Super Mercado Fantastico With No Answers”, “JJ Brings Vietti The Evidence”, & “The Shafts Enter The Building”. These are all very short & I can see why they were cut from the final version. It’s still a cool extra to have. The almost 5 minute “Gag Reel” featuring some hilarious goofs from the set. It also has a slipcover, a digital code, & a DVD copy of the release. It’s time to complete your Shaft collection with this release. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!