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Tim Story
Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Richard Roundtree
Writing Credits:
Kenya Barris, Alex Barnow

JJ Shaft, a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, enlists his family's help to uncover the truth behind his best friend's untimely death.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$8,901,419 on 2952 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Latin Spanish Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 9/24/2019

• “Can Ya Dig It?” Featurette
• ”A Complicated Man” Documentary
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Shaft [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 18, 2019)

1971’s Shaft made the lead character a cultural icon, one who spawned two sequels and a short-lived TV series. In 2000, a spin-off movie materialized, one that focused on namesake nephew John Shaft II’s adventures.

Rather than go for a formal reboot, 2019’s Shaft essentially continues down the 2000 movie’s path, with the addition of a new role: John Shaft Jr., the offspring of Shaft II. Now in his 20s, Junior (Jessie T. Usher) works as an FBI agent who specializes in cybersecurity.

Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson) maintained his distance during much of Junior’s life, but when Junior’s pal Karim (Avan Jogia) dies under suspicious circumstances, the pair reunite. Junior needs Shaft II’s street savvy and detective skills to help solve the crime, and the original Shaft (Richard Roundtree) becomes involved as well.

The 2000 Shaft did decently at the box office, but its $70 million US gross apparently left the studio uninspired. How else can we explain the absence of a formal sequel and the 19-year lull in the franchise?

Given the chilly reception accorded the 2019 Shaft, I can’t imagine we’ll see more from the character any time soon. While the 2000 flick’s gross set no box offices on fire, it dwarfs the miserable $21 million taken in by the 2019 version.

I can’t say either the delay between movies or the 2019 flick’s commercial failure bothers me. The 2000 film was badly flawed, and the 2019 edition fares even worse, as this turns into a genuinely awful cinematic experience.

In theory, Shaft 2019 comes with positives. Contrived as it may be, the notion of three generations of John Shafts sounds fun, even if it continues to annoy me that we’re supposed to see Roundtree Shaft as decades older than Jackson Shaft. Sam is only six years younger than Richard, so the age difference doesn’t compute.

That flaw aside, the basic premise offers potential. Alas, the movie never remotely capitalizes on its useful traits, so it winds up as a mix of poor story-telling and various forms of bigotry.

The latter issue becomes the most glaring here, as Shaft feels like a throwback to the 1970s in a bad way via its glaringly un-PC attitudes. I don’t want to go “Social Justice Warrior”, but the movie’s violently “unwoke” attitudes make it an odd fit for the current era.

Make no mistake: Shaft delights in all sorts of concerning attitudes. Misogyny, homophobia, racism and many other forms of bigotry raise their ugly heads, all in the supposed name of entertainment.

If Shaft showed some winking self-referential understanding of its dinosaur ways, it might work. Instead, the film displays no indications that we’re supposed to view the troubling views as anything other than awesome.

Given its fraught nature, I hesitate to use this term, but I can’t think of anything better than “toxic masculinity” to describe the worldview of Shaft. At the film’s start, we get a strong contrast between the violent, cocky Shaft II and the bookish, semi-nerdy Junior.

To some degree, Junior and Shaft II rub off on each other as the movie progresses. Both show different understandings of their universes and change as characters.

This veers way more toward alterations in Junior than in Shaft II. Really, the only way Shaft II “grows” is that he can finally apologize for his past misbehavior.

That’s about it. We find virtually no other indications that his experiences with Junior have softened him or changed his super-macho attitudes.

On the other hand, Shaft relentlessly makes Junior’s “gentrified” ways the butt of jokes, and it allows him to become self-realized only when he’s almost as much of an arrogant pig as his father. There’s no middle ground here, and the film clearly intends us to accept Junior as a “man” only when he displays his pop’s attitudes.

Sorry – I like the introverted, sweet Junior of the film’s first act way more than the self-inflated jerk of the third. We’re supposed to see Junior’s path as progress, but instead, he just turns into more of a caveman.

To call the film’s attitude toward manliness problematic would be an understatement. We learn that Junior has long maintained a crush on his friend Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) but he’s too cautious to do anything about it. Also, Sasha seems to have “friend-zoned” Junior years ago, so she displays little real romantic interest.

All this changes when Junior saves Sasha during a gunfight. Shaft lingers over the violence in a near pornographic manner and displays Sasha’s reactions in a virtually orgasmic way.

Do women like to feel protected by men? Sure, but Shaft revs up this concept to absurd levels and doesn’t allow for any view other than “might makes right”.

Even without the rampant bigotry on display, Shaft doesn’t work simply because it tells its narrative in a confused, rambling manner. In truth, the “plot” about the investigation exists as nothing more than an excuse to link Shaft II and Junior.

It becomes tough to keep straight the various story points, as the filmmakers clearly don’t care. The different elements exist to motivate action and they make little sense in the long run.

As noted, it’s a minor kick to see the three Shafts on-screen together, but that’s the best I can say about the cast. Jackson looks to be on autopilot, and none of the other performers add life to their one-dimensional characters.

Not that Shaft ever wants to be anything other than a crude cartoon. It’s an ugly, unpleasant piece that stinks up the screen.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Shaft appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I found no problems with this excellent presentation.

Overall, the flick went with a warm palette. It favored a fairly amber tint that worked within the theme and context, and it embraced a fair amount of teal as well.

Brighter hues looked good, and overall color balance appeared positive. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity.

Sharpness excelled. All shots – wide, close and in-between – provided solid clarity and definition. If any softness emerged, I didn’t see it.

Jaggies and shimmering were absent, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. No signs of source flaws emerged either. Across the board, this was a pleasing transfer.

No complaints accompanied the good Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Shaft. Downloaded to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundscape often opened up in a dynamic manner and used all the channels to positive advantage. Various vehicles zoomed around the room and guns peppered the soundscape to solid effect, so the soundfield added to the experience.

No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech remained natural and distinctive, without edginess or other issues.

Music was bold and dynamic, and effects fared nicely. Those elements were expressive and impactful, as they showed fine definition and power. While not one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard, this was a very good mix.

A featurette called Can Ya Dig It? runs 10 minutes, 36 seconds. It brings comments from director Tim Story, writer Kenya Barris, and actors Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall, and Alexandra Shipp.

“Dig” looks at Story’s involvement in the project, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations. This becomes a pretty basic program with a few decent notes and a lot of fluff.

With A Complicated Man, we find a three-part program that fills a total of 44 minutes, 14 seconds. Across these segments, we hear from Roundtree, Jackson, Story, Hall, film professor Dr. Todd Boyd, Shaft’s Revenge writer David F. Walker, Blacl Dynamite writer/actor Michael Jai White, fashion designer Ron Finley, and composer’s son Isaac Hayes III.

“Man” examines the origins of Shaft and the movies as well as an appreciation of them. “Man” never becomes the deepest documentary, but it provides a decent overview.

Five Deleted Scenes span a total of two minutes, 54 seconds. Given their brevity, none of them offer substance. They’re quick filler snippets and not much more.

A Gag Reel lasts four minutes, 53 seconds. Most of this brings the usual silliness, but Jackson gets in a few funny remarks.

The disc opens with ads for Doctor Sleep, Gremlins 4K UHD and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. No trailer for Shaft appears here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Shaft. It includes “Can Ya Dig It?” and a promo for the Georgia Film Commission but it lacks the other extras.

With the 2019 reboot, Shaft offers a throwback, but not in a good way. The movie embraces cheap, crude traits and becomes an unpleasant experience. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture along with very good audio and a decent array of bonus materials. Shaft becomes an ugly attempt at an action flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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