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Gordon Parks Jr.
Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier
Writing Credits:
Phillip Fenty

Cocaine dealer Priest wants to score one more super deal and retire.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 6/26/2018

• Audio commentary from Film Historian Dr. Todd Boyd
• “One Last Deal” Featurette
• “Ron Neal on Making Super Fly” Featurette
• “Curtis Mayfield on Super Fly” Audio Excerpt
• “Behind the Threads” Featurette
• “Behind the Hog” Featurette
• Trailer


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Super Fly [Blu-Ray] (1972)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 9, 2018)

With a 2018 remake now on screens, this became a good time to revisit the original: 1972’s Super Fly. Youngblood Priest (Ron Mayfield) deals drugs on the streets of New York.

However, Priest tires of this scene and wants to find a way out. He envisions one last massive score and then “retirement”, but he finds others may not want him to leave.

Without question, Super Fly exists as a classic of the “Blaxploitation” genre. Along with 1971’s Shaft, it remains arguably the peak of this cinematic domain.

But does it play as a good movie 46 years after its release? Not really – while I respect the film’s place in its genre, it comes across as a messy product.

For a movie with such a simple basic plot, Super Fly feels awfully aimless. It takes a long time for the main narrative to take root, and even when it does, the film continues to lack much obvious purpose.

This means multiple sequences that could’ve – and should’ve – ended up on the cutting room floor. Curtis Mayfield’s score and songs remain arguably the most memorable aspect of Super Fly, but do we need a long scene in which we watch him play “Pusherman” on stage?

No, and like much of Super Fly, this feels like filler. Could one argue that a lot of this footage exists in the “slice of life” vein to depict Priest’s day to day existence? Sure, but that wouldn’t make the material any less tedious.

Shot on a low budget, much of Super Fly feels improvised – and not in a good way. No one involved really seems to know what they’re doing. Actors walk in front of cameras clumsily, performances feel stiff and wooden, and the whole enterprise comes across as amateurish.

Except for the aforementioned music, that is. Mayfield’s work really does hold up after all this time and acts as a highlight.

Indeed, the music becomes arguably the only highlight of this sloppy, slow, semi-pointless movie. Super Fly might be worth a look in a “time capsule” way but as a film, it seems badly flawed.

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

Super Fly appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While I suspect the Blu-ray replicated the source with accuracy, this became a real “silk purse/sow’s ear” situation.

The image revealed the movie’s low-budget roots in all ways, including sharpness, which never became a strength. The movie occasionally exhibited reasonable clarity, but much of it seemed vaguely soft.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no intrusive edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent, but the combination of iffy lighting and cheap film stocks resulted in heavier than expected grain.

Colors tended to be flat and bland. Granted, I didn’t anticipate a vivid palette from a gritty drama like this, but the hues still came across as dull.

Blacks veered toward the dense side of the street and lacked great clarity. Shadows felt the same, as low-light shots became somewhat murky. I found it tough to rate the image because I thought it did about as well as it could with the source’s limitations, but objectively, I felt the result was too ugly for a grade about a “C+”.

The movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack also showed the restrictions related to the movie’s age and budget, but it still worked fine. Speech usually seemed fairly natural, though the lines occasionally became a bit dull due to problematic recording.

Effects failed to present much life, but they lacked problematic distortion. While the music didn’t boast great vivacity, the score and songs still showed decent pep. This was an acceptable soundtrack for an old, inexpensive movie.

The Blu-ray comes with a decent collection of extras, and we open with an audio commentary from film historian Dr. Todd Boyd. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, the “Blaxploitation” genre and other historical elements.

At times Boyd gives us decent thoughts, but he mostly describes the movie and he rarely adds anything of great insight. As a result, this becomes a fairly forgettable chat that doesn’t give us a terribly informative look at the film.

Called One Last Deal, a 24-minute, 32-second featurette offers notes from Boyd, critic Armond White, filmmakers Oscar Williams and Warrington Hudlin, writer Phillip Fenty, wardrobe designer Nate Adams, producer Sig Shore, car customizer Les Dunham, fashion designer Ron Finley, and actors John Amos, Julius Harris, and Sheila Frazier.

“Deal” looks at the Blaxploitation genre and aspects of Super Fly’s creation. The program gives us a tight little overview of the production.

Next comes Ron O’Neal on Making Super Fly, a six-minute, 11-second piece shot back in the early 1970s. He gives us some notes about the film, but most of this promo reel just shows movie clips. Still, it’s good to see the late O’Neal back in his prime.

An audio piece, Curtis Mayfield on Super Fly lasts seven minutes, five seconds. In it, the musician/composer discusses his work. Mayfield delivers a nice array of thoughts.

Two more featurettes ensue, and Behind the Threads goes for three minutes, 36 seconds. It offers info from Nate Adams as he looks at the movie’s clothes and shows us the old costumes. Though short, this reel includes some fun insights.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we conclude with Behind the Hog, a four-minute, two-second reel. It features Les Dunham as he tells us about the movie’s cars. He makes this another brief but engaging piece.

Although I appreciate its place in cinema history, Super Fly simply doesn’t play as a satisfying movie. Amateurish, cheap and semi-incoherent, the film doesn’t go anywhere. The Blu-ray delivers erratic but satisfactory picture and audio along with a reasonable array of bonus materials. Super Fly acts as an interesting time capsule and that’s about it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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