Superfly Retrospective Review
Super Fly is a blaxploitation crime drama film directed by Gordon Parks, Jr. and stars Ron O'Neal.
The Story/The Direction:
The film follows Youngblood Priest (O'Neal), a cocaine dealer who is at the top of the game. He has everything including a lot of money and a luxurious apartment. Priest, however, wants to leave the drug life so he comes up with a plan to get out. He plans to buy 30 kilos of the best cocaine and sell it to end up with a million dollars. As the deal plays out, Priest and his partner, get detained by the police but gain protection from them. The drug supplier and Priest's partner want him to stay in the game but the former wants him dead if he leaves. Priest must do what is best for him and leave the game on top. This film is considered one of the classics when it comes to blaxploitation films and puts an African American man in the protagonist role. It has a soundtrack that is absolutely true to the 1970s. It's funky and the theme is unforgettable. This film is very controversial among civil rights groups as it had, as many blaxploitation films had, a glorification of African American males as pimps, drug dealers, and these men being the ultimate of what an African American man could be. However, this concentration as a comment on society is still very relevant as shown African Americans and other people of color in inner cities. This is shown furthermore in the character of Priest.
Though the film does glorify the life he lives, Priest is looking past it. Throughout the film, he keeps on stating that he wants to leave the life he lives. He sees it as a means to an end and is trying to get to the end as fast as possible. Everyone around him says that where he is, is the best he could ever be. His partner even says at one point, "I know it's a rotten game, but it's the only one the man left us to play." While he seems to have everything, he is not happy. To get out, he must perform this one last job to get enough to move on. He is a man of few words and his complexity is his reactions, both audible and nonaudible. O'Neal plays this character very well and is the ultimate cool dude.
As a film made with a very small budget (under $500,000), it shows. The camera placement is very awkward and the editing is sometimes very off going from a romantic scene to a vicious fist fight. Unfortunately, this dates the film a lot and some of the film's message is lost as it feels boring at times due to its slow pacing.
Even with its slow pace, the film does comment on an issue that is still relevant today, almost 50 years later. While not a masterpiece film, the reason that this film passes the test of time is that relevancy. It may not look the best now but given the time and the money, it was the best that could have been produced. While not the best of all time, this great film is still worth checking out at least once.
Rating: 4.0/5.0 bowties
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