Shaft’s Big Score! is a 1972 blaxploitation film composed & directed by Gordon Parks (Shaft, The World of Piri Thomas, The Learning Tree, The Super Cops, & Leadbelly). It was a sequel to the original 1971 film. It was written & produced by creator Ernest Tidyman (Shaft, High Plains Drifter, Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones, & The French Connection). Composer Isaac Hayes was unavailable at the time to return for this sequel. It also produced by Roger H. Lewis (Shaft franchise, The Swimmer, Night Games, & The Deadly Trap) & Stirling Silliphant (Salem’s Lot, Shaft franchise, Longstreet, & Catch the Heat). It was followed up by Shaft in Africa & the Shaft TV series in 1973. The budget was $1,978,000 & it grossed $10,000,000 worldwide at the box office!!!!
Queens private detective John Shaft (played by: Richard Roundtree from the Shaft franchise, Se7en, Brick, Q, Maniac Cop, & Original Gangstas) is contacted by his old friend Cal Asby, As soon as Shaft arrives, Asby is killed by a bomb planted inside of his house. Shaft is questioned by a suspicious police Captain Bollin (played by: Julius Harris from Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, Black Caesar, Super Fly, & Live and Let Die), but he gets released due to a lack of evidence. Asby’s business partner Johnny Kelly (played by: Wally Taylor from Escape from New York, Rocky III, Night of the Creeps, & Lord Shango) owes mob boss Gus Mascola (played by: Joseph Mascolo from Jaws 2, Heat, & Sharky’s Machine) $250,000 in past gambling debts, money he had planned to take from his partner but had been moved and hidden before his death. Asby’s house is ransacked before Shaft, Kelly, and Asby’s sister Arna (played by: Rosalind Miles from The Black 6, Girls for Rent, Friday Foster, & The Manhandlers) can investigate. When the perpetrator runs out, Kelly blocks Shaft from chasing him while pretending to help. Suspicious, Shaft tells Arna that he wants to inspect Asby & Kelly’s partnership papers. Bollin reveals to Shaft that Asby & Kelly were running a numbers racket with the insurance company & funeral parlor. Bollin fears that the mob will move in to take over their businesses. Shaft is seduced by Kelly’s mistress Rita (played by: Kathy Imrie from Repo! The Genetic Opera, 16 Blocks, American Gods, & Street Law) as revenge for her lover’s mistreatment. He investigates the case causing more trouble for himself. Kelly offers Harlem racketeer Bumpy Jones (played by: Moses Gunn from Shaft, Tales from the Crypt, Heartbreak Ridge, & Firestarter) a partnership in the Queens numbers game if he will help him break with Mascola. Knowing that the action will cause a major turf war, Bumpy agrees but demands a 60-40 split. It becomes an all out war between the rivals & Shaft is caught in the middle. Can he solve the crime & survive these vengeful gangsters????
This may be a very unpopular opinion compared to most but I consider Shaft’s Big Score! much better than the first feature. Everyone involved is more conformable with their surroundings & they have established their roles by now. It had a much bigger budget so everything looks better here including the cinematography. Gordon Parks grew tremendously as a filmmaker at this point. All the editing & shots were planned out better this time. It really shows after watching them back to back. Richard Roundtree was learning to be Shaft in 1971 but he was Shaft for the Big Score. This will always be his greatest role & character, he was meant to be John Shaft. I think this is his best performance when it comes to this franchise. Moses Gunn returns from the original, it was nice to see a familiar face with Shaft. The main villains Joseph Mascolo & Wally Taylor provided a solid counterpart to the iconic private detective & it made him step up his game. Plus it had some nice eye candy from Rosalind Miles & Kathy Imrie. This follow up is very similar to the first film but I thought everything was much improved this time around. The action & violence is amped up for this sequel. It’s a very fun & entertaining experience, it has so much replay value to it. I love the dialogue & cool lines in this. I will say Isaac Hayes would have made it better with his classic material but Gordon Parks did a great job with the music especially considering he directed this also. I think this one is under-rated & it doesn’t get the props it deserves most of the time. Warner Archives has resurrected it from the vaults with a great looking release, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special feature from Warner Bros! This 1080p (2.40:1) is a huge upgrade to the previous VHS & DVD releases! Shaft’s Big Score! has never looked before on home video, I am very happy that it finally got the proper HD treatment that it deserved. Like I said above, visually this looks sharper & more stylized compared to the original.The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is a major improvement from options from the past. The dialogue is very clean, all the action is elevated, & the music has a nice boost to it. For a 70s film, it sounds very impressive. It also has English SDH subtitles. The only extra on the disc is the “Theatrical Trailer”. It’s available everywhere right now including MovieZyng.com, CHECK IT OUT!!!!