Shaft is awesome. The original 1971 blaxploitation film is a rough and tumble piece of gritty ’70s crime action. Richard Roundtree’s performance as private eye John Shaft is the epitome of cool. And that title song from Isaac Hayes? Oh man, you gotta listen to it. It’s so good it won an Oscar!
Shaft produced two direct sequels, a short-lived television series, and a reboot starring Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft’s nephew. Of course, he was known as John Shaft II. That film was certainly lacking the swagger of the original and it’s mostly faded from memory at this point. The time is just about right for another take at the world of John Shaft. Well, New Line Cinema agrees and has hired Tim Story to direct this newest version.
Comic fans know Story from his directing work on the first two Fantastic Four films, but he also directed Barbershop, the Ride Along films, and Kevin Hart’s successful stand-up film, Kevin Hart: What Now?. Story is a hot commodity in Hollywood – he’s already got Ride Along 3 in the works – and it looks like Shaft is going to be a big ticket item for New Line. They are taking a similar route as the 2000 reboot by making the story about John Shaft’s son. Considering Story’s penchant for comedy, one has to wonder if this new version will lean harder on the laughs than previous iterations.
Regardless, this is good news for those of us who want to see more big budget movies that star people of color. Marvel will be releasing Black Panther next year and fans are chomping at the bit for that. Creed was one of the best movies in recent memory, and Hidden Figures just recently dethroned Rogue One at the box office. The time is right for an iconic black character like John Shaft to make his way back to the big screen.
And Richard Roundtree is still in the game! Get him to show up in this film and pass the torch. It would be awesome to see the original John Shaft on the silver screen one last time.