Year of Release: 2018
Production Company: Columbia Pictures/Silver Pictures
Remakes are not a new concept in cinema, despite what some people may believe, not to mention that when a remake is being made, most movie fans go up in flames because of it. Of course, with them being all the rage in this day and age, it should not be much of a shock that a 1972 Blaxploitation film called Superfly was going to be remade, even though I personally did not see something like this coming.
This new film followed a similar plot to the original in that Youngblood Priest, played by Trevor Martin, is a well-known drug dealer who wants to do one last deal before leaving the game. Of course, certain things prevent that, otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie. He has several conflicts along the way, such as a rival dealer and his gang, as well as the right-hand man who had it in for Priest from the start. Other conflicts involve a Mexican drug dealer, Priest’s mentor, and of course, crooked cops. It is basically what you would see in a movie about drug dealing and gangs, so it’s really nothing that you have not seen before.
So what did this new take on the 1972 film have to offer? One thing that is inevitable is that people are likely going to compare and contrast, especially if the movie is 46 years old. There is no escaping it, but really, this film has its own identity, despite having a similar plot and the main character shares his name with the protagonist of the original. The movie itself, however, is set in the modern world. This movie was directed by Canadian-born Director X, whose real name is Julien Christian Lutz, who is also a music video director. A lot of this movie was shot like a modern rap video with guy’s sporting bling and women wearing as little as possible. Not to mention that some action sequences had some slow-motion effects, whether it was from a hand-to-hand fight scene or a high-speed chase sequence. Another thing that this film differed from the original is that it had more of hip-hop/gangsta-style flavor to it, but that didn’t mean that there were no callbacks to the original, as some sequences had Curtis Mayfield’s songs like “Pusher Man” and of course, “Superfly” from the original film. But this time around, because Future had produced this film, he also had a hand in the production of the soundtrack and it showed as a lot of his songs were played.
Trevor Martin did a decent job playing the role of Priest. He mostly played him as a calm-type who kept his head in all situations, even in situations that were more for one to handle. Jason Mitchell, whom had portrayed Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, as well as appeared in 2016’s Keanu and Kong: Skull Island, stole a lot of scenes that he was in as Eddie, Priest’s right-hand man. He had brought a little comic relief into the film, even though it was predominately serious. Another standout performance was from Jennifer Morrison, who played crooked Detective Mason. She had quite an odious aura about her, enough that you wanted to see something happen to her in the end. I will say the same thing about Brian Durkin, who played an even bigger jerk of a crooked cop, Detective Franklin. Also, I was surprised to see appearances from Rick Ross and Big Boi, who played the mayor of Atlanta, where this film was set.
There were some sequences that stood out for different reasons beyond getting a good thrill from the action, or getting a laugh from a funny moment. For example, one sequence had Priest visiting his mentor Scatter, played by Michael Kenneth Williams, who was running a martial arts school. The two engaged in a friendly sparring session, while talking about taking chances and trying to get out of the drug game. Of course, not without using some martial arts techniques in the process, which ended with Scatter putting Priest in an armbar. Another sequence that stood out was the gratuitous sex sequence, when Priest was taking a shower and his two girlfriends get in there with him and you get the idea. So there was a threesome sequence, for no other reason than just some fanservice. Not to mention a tackle on racial issues at the end of the car chase scene. It almost seemed that some scenes were added in as a subtle homage to the old Blaxploitation films from the 1970’s. I will admit, I have not seen enough of them, but I have seen some, including the 1972 Superfly.
Another thing that I must add is that it has been years since I have watched original film. I am also aware that there were sequels, one being Superfly TNT from 1973, and The Return of Superfly from 1990, which had a different actor playing the protagonist that time around than Ron O’Neal when he was in the original two films. Maybe just for kicks one day, I might do reviews on them.
The thing about this film is that it is a decent way to pass the time, if you’re going in expecting a bunch of cliches from crime films involving gangsters and drug dealers. It is not that good of a movie, but I would give it some credit where credit is due as the performances were good, and the story was actually decent.
P.S. I may do a review on the soundtrack. I just need to get my hands on it first.