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  Directed by
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  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Pan&Scan
  • 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's Big Score!
Warner Bros./Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 101 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

John Shaft, New York’s sexiest private dick returns in the big-action sequel to the original 1971 smash hit Shaft. When his friend (and brother of his current squeeze) is murdered, Shaft is unwittingly drawn into an underworld squabble over Queen’s main numbers racket. Caught between competing Harlem and uptown mobs, and with the NYPD breathing down his neck, it’s up to Shaft to unearth the killer and ensure his girl’s safety. As always, he’s also charged with delivering some sweet-lovin’ to some ebony beauties along the way.

Produced quickly on the back of the success of the original film, Shaft’s Big Score! sports higher production values and a vastly bigger budget. The larger budget is reflected in more elaborate action sequences and more exotic New York locations. Two of the elements that made the original a hit have also had their quotas raised – with more sex and a lot more violence being added. However the film lacks the original’s most distinguishing feature – Shaft’s hard-edged attitude has been substantially dulled. He still doesn’t take any crap from anyone, but now he’s more likely to exchange bullets rather than some hip, ego-deflating dialogue.

All in all, the film has lost some of that gritty urban tone created in the first film. This is partly due to the introduction of ‘up-town’ villains whose elaborate apartments seem like something out of a bond film rather than an edgy cop drama. The film also suffers from the absence of Isaac Hayes distinctive score (the music is this time indulgently provided by director Parks himself). Despite containing some thoroughly entertaining moments, like many a sequel Shaft’s Big Score! is indistinct and undistinguished, trading on the characterisations and coolness established in the first film.

But then again, maybe I’m over-analysing a touch. Taken in isolation, Shaft’s Big Score! is a light-weight, yet highly entertaining film. OK, so it doesn’t rise to the cinematic heights of the first film, but sequels rarely do. The film simply provides an over-the-top situation filled with sex, go-go dancing, fist-fights, helicopter attacks, and exploding boats in which a likeable protagonist can again strut his funky stuff. And strut he most certainly does.

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

As with the release of the original Shaft, Warner Brothers have presented Shaft’s Big Score! as a double sided disc, with an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer of on one side, and a 4x3 transfer on the other. Both sides are single layered. Like Shaft, the video quality is fantastic given the age of the film.

The print used for the transfer is a little dirtier than that used for Shaft, with a reasonable number of film artefacts in the first few minutes, but these disappear quickly and re-occur very infrequently. Overall, the print is very clean indeed given it’s age. Again, like Shaft, the image exhibits a small amount of film grain throughout, really noticeable only during the darker shots.

The quality of the print is matched by the fantastic transfer. There are no MPEG artefacts to be seen, and the transfer is at all times sharp and clear. Despite the grain, there is a great level of detail on display here. The odd splash of vivid colour, mainly reds and yellows, are also handled well. Blacks are deep, and shadow detail is mostly great – reduced slightly by the film grain. All in all, the movie looks as good as Shaft does on DVD. Warner Brothers are again deserving of our congratulations.

In terms of audio, Shaft’s Big Score! 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 quite good. At a few points, lip sync is a problem, but I put this down to bad looping in the production itself. Like Shaft, the soundtrack is showing its age. It doesn’t possess that big budget soundtrack indicative of modern releases, but it nonetheless 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, even less than that provided with the release of Shaft.

Theatrical Trailer: sporting a hip voice-over by star Richard Roundtree. The print used here is quite dirty.

Production Info: lists cast and crew who worked on the film. Ho hum, I’d rather just look on the back of the DVD case.

Compared to the R1 release, we miss out on the trailers for the two other films in the Shaft cannon, Shaft and Shaft in Africa. What we gain is an extra soundtrack in Italian, and a stack more subtitled languages.


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  •   And I quote...
    "A thoroughly entertaining, action-packed sequel, despite falling short of the ground-breaking original. "
    - Gavin Turner
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