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Based on the popular cult tv series, Shaft stars Samuel L Jackson as cop John Shaft. Having never seen the original series (I’m too young!), I didn’t really know what to expect from this film, however I’ve more often than not enjoyed films with Samuel L Jackson, so I was reasonably looking forward to this ‘action packed thriller’.

"Who stole my damn wig?!!"
Movie
The film focuses on John Shafts fixation with bringing justice against a racist killer, Walter Wade Jr (Christian Bale), the son of a wealthy real estate developer. Following an incident in a bar Walther Wade Jr hit a coloured man with a metal pipe resulting in the mans death. Shaft is the first detective on the scene, and following a tip off from the female bar tender (Toni Collette) Walther Wade is arrested, though bailed just a few days after. In fear for her life, the bar tender flees the city and its John Shafts job to locate her before Walther Wade has her killed as she is the only thing connecting him with the racist killing. Complicating matters are corrupt cops, venomous druglords and goodness knows what else…sounds like fun!

Shaft isn’t exactly what I was expecting. I imagined the film to be a dark, serious thriller, however that isn’t what it turned out to be at all. If you have seen American Pyscho then you will probably recognise the villain played by Christian Bale, not only because they are played by the same actor, but the styles of each character are practically identical. On more than one occasion I could have sworn that I was watching American Pyscho all over again, as Christian Bale plays the part in exactly the same over the top style.  Personally I didn’t really mind this, as I did actually quite enjoy the aforementioned film and the comedic tone of Bale’s acting, however I can understand if people wouldn’t appreciate this as much...especially if they were hoping to take this film at all seriously! If you can take this film for what it is however, a tongue in cheek thriller, then you will probably ‘quite’ enjoy it…

This film is by no means an action film either, sure, there are a few action scenes, and a couple of nice car chases along the way, however it seems quite obvious to me that the director didn’t exactly know which approach to take with this movie. There are some pretty nice performances by the entire cast, including Sam Jackson, though his character does come out with a few cringe moments with lines such as ‘Its my duty to please your booty’ The actor who steals the show for me though, has to be Jeffrey Wright, who plays the Egyption druglord Peoples Hernandes. I had never heard of this actor up until now, although I shall certainly be looking out for him in the future, as his performance was solid and convincing.

Overall, this is definately a film that you will either 'like' or will 'hate', with not much room for space in between. Personally, I did quite enjoy the way that the film was filmed, with 'funky' music accompanying throughout. What lets the movie down, is the poor storyline, as the acting in most cases was very good. The ending was perhaps the biggest let down, it makes you feel that you have wasted the last hour and a half.

Jeffrey Wrights ventriloquist act takes a turn for the worse...
Video
The picture quality on this anamorphic 2:35.1 release is pretty impressive as you would expect, I noticed no picture damage, or any blemishes throughout the film. A lot of this film is shot in the dark city environments, however the film is still perfectly visible throughout, and the colours are sharp. The menu’s on this Paramount release, are also easy to navigate, and presented nicely.

Sound
Nothing really to write home about with the sound in this picture, its certainly not likely to be one you use to show off your latest sound system, however its more than acceptable. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track produces a few nice effects during the car chases, and the bass produced from the gun shots is pretty good, though you cant begin to compare the sound with that of Saving Private Ryan.

Christian Bale, playing yet another 'American Pyscho'
Extras
The extra’s side of things with this release is pretty disappointing. You are given a small making of Featurette, which doesn’t really look at the making of the film at all, but instead focuses primarily on the actors of the film. The Cast & Crew interviews are reasonably interesting, pretty much the entire cast are interviewed, though the interviews are cut down a lot, and it jumps from actor to actor in next to no time at all. Next up are 2 music videos, one of the ‘Shaft Theme’ and the final one ‘Bad Man’ by Buster Rhymes. Neither of these videos are very good, the Buster Rhymes video is about as ‘cheesy’ as one can get these days, and the Shaft Theme, although quite catchy, is only really viewable a couple of times before boredom sets in. Finally you have the customary trailer, which has to be one of the worst trailers I have ever seen. I was really hoping for a feature length commentary with this release, particularly as Sam Jackson has done a number of DVD commentaries before, including the one on Deep Blue Sea, and lets face it, that film wasn’t exactly anything special!

Overall, this release isn’t exactly what I was hoping for. The film isn’t much more than average, though I would say that its worth watching just for Christian Bale and Jeffrey Wrights performances. Sound and Video quality are more than acceptable, the only real let down is the extras side of things, it looks like they have thrown together the contents in a couple of hours. I would have to recommend renting this film first if you were planning on buying it, my sister saw Shaft the day before me, and the day that I received it, she had already traded it on for something else.


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