Cast and Crew: John Guillermin (Director); Sterling Silliphant (Screenplay); Johny Pate (Score); The Four Tops (Theme); Neda Arneric, Marne Maitland, Jacques Herlin
What It’s About: Emir Ramilla (Cy Grant) hires Shaft (Richard Roundtree) to bust up a human trafficking ring that is shipping African laborers to work in Europe. The Emir’s bodyguard (Frank McRae) trains Shaft in stick fighting while his daughter (Vonetta McGee) teaches Shaft the language and culture so that Shaft can go undercover and sign up for work with the racket. Unfortunately Ramilla’s right hand man, Wassa (Debebe Eshetu) reports to Amafi (Frank Finlay), the head of the traffickers, so Shaft’s theoretical advantage, that he’s not known to trafficking gang, is immediately eliminated. Advantage or no, this is John Shaft we’re talking about, who might say he’s “not James Bond. Simply Sam Spade”, but we know better, and soon thugs all across Africa and Paris know it too.
Why Watch it Today?: Shaft gets picked up for one leg of his journey on December 12th in the film. Shaft in Africa is probably the only third film in a series (after Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score) that I prefer to its predecessors, mainly because the first Shaft film is merely a solid detective film with a great character and a great score while this film features that same character taken out of his element and actually challenged a bit in some well-chosen locations in Ethiopia and France. The serious subject of exploitation of immigrant workers that amounts to slavery provides a real emotional core to the film and there are some great action sequences, especially the end where Shaft finally gets the chance to go off the handle and gives the bad guys what they deserve.
Where to Get It: Watch online at Amazon, iTunes or Netflix