Shaft (1971)
9 Jan 2011   Reviews

Shaft (1971)

For a movie that’s being called a cult classic, Shaft is a total disaster and one of my biggest disappointments ever. Shaft is so boring! How anyone can label this as a cult classic is beyond me

The plot of shaft is as standard as possible which offers nothing new or refreshing – and that’s a statement for a movie from 1971, where drugs were basically everywhere and used by everyone. Big twists or interesting characters? Don’t bother to search, there’s nothing. A big villain? Nah, that would’ve been too mainstream-y, I guess. Shaft offers at least some political tension and some shootouts. But the shootouts are so boring and slow, that even a grandma could’ve taken a walk right in the middle and nothing would have happened to her. But my guess is that those scenes were enough to label Shaft a cult classic.

That 1971 was a different time is a given. But I would never have guessed that the times were so different that a movie can be as slow as Shaft. This movie is so slow I had to listen to techno music to not doze off (which didn’t help by the say). There’ no redeeming quality in Shaft, or at least a moment where I sat up and thought “Hey, there is life in this movie”. I bet I could cut out 90 percent of Shaft and nobody would notice. Every commercial break offers more content than this boring cult classic.

In this regard, the beginning already is a highlight to me because you see Richard Roundtree crossing streets for ages – before crossing even more streets – while nothing happens at all. So the moment when Isaac Hayes starts his hymn on the cool as ice private detective called Shaft, I couldn’t help but laugh at this surreal mess.

Who's the black private dick that's a walking machine to all the chicks? Shaft! Ya, damn right.

Shaft (the character) is absolutely forgettable and boring. I never cared about him because I learned basically nothing about him or his past. Why did he become a private eye? Was he a cop before? Did he solve only cases of missing pets or something more serious? Why should I care about him? And for a cool as ass character, Shaft is portrayed as a bland…something (killing some dude doesn’t count). There’s absolutely no intensity to him. If a truck were to hit him I wouldn’t have cried a single manly tear.

And what’s about his job? Why should I care about any of this? The only thing I learn from the movie is that a daughter of some gangster I’ve never seen before was kidnapped. Who she is or why she should be so important to me that I should care about her is never told or shown. If I’m not completely off, the first time we actually see her is almost at the effing end of the movie. So we also never learn about her presumably desperate situation where time is of high importance for example.

That's the damsel in distress the whole movie's about. The first view of her is 76 minutes (!!) into the movie. I almost missed her.

Now some fans of the “cult classic” might intervene and say that those were different times and insist I have to relax and praise Shaft the Cool. Yes, Shaft is a cult classic for many – be it the movie or the character. But a wallpaper can be cool, too, yet I wouldn’t want to watch it for two hours straight.

Of course, it sounds plausible at first to label the different times as a reason for this boring blandness. But when you think about it, it becomes absolutely laughable because up to that point Hollywood managed to produce some true cult classics. And I can prove it to you with two words: Alfred Hitchcock. Therefore, any argument that 1971 was a different time and because of that we have to love this movie is a diversion from the harsh reality and shitty screenwriting.


For many people Shaft might be a cult classic. To me, it’s simply one thing: a boring and slow and thus not worth seeing. Shaft outlived itself long time ago and belongs to where it truly belongs: a museum. If you’re a film enthusiast you have to watch this movie (I’m truly sorry to write this). Everybody else can gladly ignore Shaft. There’s nothing to miss.

An incredibly boring and bland cult classic
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