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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Sided
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired, Romanian, Bulgarian
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
Shaft in Africa
Warner Bros./Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 108 mins . R . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It's 1973, and after scoring hits with Shaft (1971) and Shaft’s Big Score! (1972), MGM looks to produce a third movie in its highly popular Shaft franchise. Now at the height of blaxploitation’s popularity, a genre MGM and Shaft had helped establish, this new film needs to compete with a deluge of other movies sporting sexy black protagonists fighting against modern oppression. The answer was to up the stakes and send their much loved hero back to his roots. The result was Shaft in Africa.

Lured by a substantial cash incentive, John Shaft (Roundtree), New York’s coolest private detective, goes undercover as an Ethiopian native in an effort to bust a ring of modern day slave traders; smuggling cheap labour from Africa to Paris. Schooled in the ways of the natives, Shaft is transported to Addis Ababa where he is fitted with a tape recorder and a spy camera hidden in the top of his Ethiopian whacking stick (not a euphemism). Making his way out into the countryside, he soon realises that his cover has been blown and it is not long before he is fending off constant attempts on his life. Can Shaft survive the harsh African continent, stick fighting his way to safety, whilst uncovering the head of the slave traders and fending off scheming nymphomaniacs? You better believe it baby.

Given the success of the previous two films, even more money was thrown at the production of this final film in the Shaft cannon - and the film looks terrific, containing some really breathtaking shots. In particular the villages and plains of the Ethiopian savanna have been beautifully captured. Other exotic locations include the clear, blue Mediterranean and the grimy streets of Paris.

However, it’s not all good news. For their newest release, MGM replaced the writer the first two (highly successful) films, Ernest Tidyman (also the author of the Shaft novel), with the producer of the first film Stirling Silliphant (could that really be his/her real name??). Well, let's just say Stirling isn’t much of a writer and the result is a wooden, by-the-numbers script that does the film no justice at all. Add to this a decidedly B-grade supporting cast and you start to get the picture.

The film compensates by upping the sex and violence to almost ridiculous levels, this time pushing the film over into an R rating. What’s he on about you say? That sounds pretty good to you? Maybe. But if you add to this a bad script and b-grade acting from all but Roundtree, the resulting cheese factor may endear the movie to many a cult fan (and has), but will have all but the hardened pulp viewer cringing.

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

As with the DVD releases of both Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score! Warner Brothers have presented Shaft in Africa as a double sided disc, with an anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer on one side, and a 4x3 transfer on the other. Both sides are single layered.

There is only on way to describe the transfer we have been given here, superb – unbelievable for a film that is over 25 years old. Unlike the other films in the Shaft cannon, this is a richly colourful film and the colours literally leap from the screen. The saturation is perfect, as are black level and shadow detail, showcasing some amazing Ethiopian vistas, both urban and savanna. The constant amount of film grain that the two previous films display is only barely noticable, (moreso on the 4x3 image) and the image is sharp and clear. There are no MPEG artefacts at all, and despite the very occasional speck, the print is very very clean. All in all, this is a fantastic looking transfer - the best b-grade has ever looked. Where I was handing out congratulations for their previous efforts in the Shaft series, here Warner deserve the highest accolades. Well done chaps.

In terms of audio, Shaft in Africa is much the same as the other movies in the series and has been packaged with its original mono soundtrack in English, Italian and French. Needless to say there is no surround or subwoofer activity. Despite a mono presentation, the dialogue is always clear and distinct, and the dynamic range is good. The film does sport some atrocious accents, and some equally atrocious ADR work, but in terms of the transfer, lip sync does not seem to be a problem. All in all, the soundtrack is uninspiring, but provides a reasonable compliment to the film.

The disc is presented with static menus that are 16x9 enhanced. The movie’s theme plays behind them. Warner have provided minimal extras with the film, exactly the same as those provided with the previous film in the series Shaft’s Big Score!. Overall, very uninspiring given the cult status of this final Shaft film.

Theatrical Trailer: the Shaft marketing machine hits top gear.

Production Info: a very short list of the cast and crew who worked on the film.

Despite looking absolutely fantastic, the film’s cringe factor was a little too much for me. Fans of the film (and there are many) should be ecstatic with the disc but, sadly, I cannot count myself as one. Overall I found the movie b-grade at best, disappointing as I quite enjoyed the first two films in the series.


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  •   And I quote...
    "A cheesy, b-grade romp overflowing with sex and violence and all wrapped in a beautiful transfer..."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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