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4.4 out of 5 stars
Super Fly
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Superfly (1972) is a tough, unpolished gem rising above the numerous films to come from the blaxploitation period of the early 70's. While some are critical of the message they believe posed within the film, one of glamorizing the image of the drug dealer, I didn't really see it that way at all. I think this image presented was a superficial one, and one that the main character within the film saw and understood, prompting his actions and decisions to try and escape the life.

Ron O'Neal, who recently passed away on January 14, 2004, plays Priest, a streetwise pusher in a dilemma. Seems he is tired of the hustle, and is looking for a way to get out of the game, but, as his partner Eddie (Carl Lee) puts it, "Look, I know it's a rotten game, but it's the only one The Man left us to play." Apparently Priest has thought long about this, and he has come up with a plan to score a lot of cash in a short amount of time, and then plans to retire. Sounds like a plan, but Priest soon encounters powerful forces that feel he is worth more to them on the streets, pushing junk, doing what he does best. While the film does appear to glamorize the lifestyle of the drug peddler, I truly believe the underlying message was than despite all Priests' success, he was languishing in a form of slavery, always working for someone else and taking all the risks involved in such a trade. In a way he realized this, but found it difficult to leave the life, as that was all he knew, and working for 'chump change' was not in his future.

Gordon Parks, Jr. direction may seem amateurish with jerky camera shots and such, but it fit in nicely with the nature of the material within the film, giving a raw, harsh look into the seedy side of life, much like Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973). One of the things that really sets this film apart from the other movies of the time was the soundtrack by the legendary Curtis Mayfield. With such funkified songs as Pusherman, Freddie's Dead, and Superfly, Mayfield's contributions to the film served to elevate it above many films within the genre, and solidify his career as a musical genius. O'Neal is great as Priest (love those outta sight mutton chops), and is supported by some really decent performances by the lovely Sheila Frazier, Julius Harris, who many may recognize from the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973), and Charles McGregor, who also appearing in Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles (1974).

There are a good amount of special features on this disc including a brand new documentary called `One Last Deal: A Retrospective', a commentary track by Dr. Todd Boyd, a USC professor of television and cinema and author of "Am I Black Enough for You: Popular Culture from the 'Hood and Beyond", a early featurette with Ron O'Neal, a `making of ` documentary with O'Neal, `Behind the Threads' featurette with costumer designer Nate Adams where he shows off some of the original costumes from the film, and an audio only track with Mayfield's music. Also, I really liked some of the small touches within the interactive menu. For instance, instead of a listing for `Scene Selection', it's titled `Makin' the Scene', the `Special Features' selection is titled `Fly Features', and the subtitles section is labeled `Jive Talk'. A very nice and well-developed release by Warner Brothers, although I still am annoyed that they use the cheap plastic and cardboard packaging. When will they learn...

Cookieman108
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2006
Format: DVD
I was born in the 70's but it was only recently (a couple of days ago) that I saw the film Superfly. A film about a drug dealer who wants to retire from the cocaine business because he sees its fatalism. I guess I must have bought into the negativity of those who condemned the film for its perceived glorification of street life. In reality, I didn't even know what the film was about, I simply discounted it as just another blaxploitation that would be filled with over the top characters and bad acting. But Superfly was none of what I expected. It's social commentary speaks to the hopelessness of such a life style and if anything offers an anti-drug message. It also speaks to what society tells us to revere-money, homes, cars-the American Dream. Unfortunately, people could not see beyond the flashy clothes and the melodic musical score, which serves as the narrator, and controversy to capture the real message of the film. It is also unfortunate that the late Ron O'Neal's mesmerizing and brilliant performance as Priest was somewhat overshadowed by the film's controversy-namely, a drug dealer as hero. Ron O'Neal was a victim of what happens to most actors who have monumental success on a film-oftentimes they are typecast and then resigned to film and television roles that are beneath their talent and ability-it happens to the best of actors and the worst. Had he been an actor just starting out in present times, with his exotic, smoldering good looks and immense talent and intensity, he would have become world renown and Oscar nominated and perhaps an Oscar winner. He was definitely underrated and a man ahead of his time.

Although obviously low budget, Superfly IS a very good film. Curtis Mayfield's haunting soundtrack coupled with Ron O'Neal's hypnotic performance definitely makes this a must see film. And although it is included in the blaxploitation genre, Superfly is a film that deserves to stand on its own.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2000
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
Superfly, starring Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, and Sheila Frazier is one of the greatest films ever made in the 70's Black film genre. It is a ghetto drama set to the music of the late great Curtis Mayfield - an excellent soundtrack that brilliantly narrates the film and compells you to contemplate the ins & outs of innercity blues; the challenges Vs. Options or lack thereof. This movie is hitting from beginning to end and though often dismissed as blaxploitation, it's strong messages of changing ones predicament, allows it to escape this criticism. Ron O'Neal portrays a drug dealer by the name of Priest with the baddest vines, cars, and plenty of women. He decides that there is more to life than this. With the help of his main squeeze Georgie,he stages one last score to get out of the game despite strong opposition from his partner and other shady individuals that rely on his thriving drug business. Will he make it out? Buy the film and see for yourself! I own a copy on VHS but I'm hoping and praying that Warner Bros. will stop sleeping on this gem and release it on DVD!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2005
Format: DVD
I recently decided to buy it having never seen the movie. Although I heard all about it. I have to say this one of the BEST dvds I own! It's down and dirty, big attitude flick that just exudes style. This film has it all... pimps, hustlers, big cars, fedoras, fur coats, nude women, and dont forget the music! The soundtrack is a perfect fit. I love the authentic feel of the whole thing. The film grain and the mono soundtrack help to establish that. The commetary is right on the money as well. The other extras are nice too. GET THIS!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2004
Format: DVD
I write this review in regard to the DVD version of this movie in particular. Superfly is indeed a great movie, from its gritty ambiance, outlandish costumes, superb soundtrack, unsentimental dialogue and straight-up action. However, the sound quality on the DVD is quite poor, which is an absolute shame in light of the music that is a genuine reflection of its place and era. Even with the volume turned up much higher than for any other DVDs I have, the dialogue and music were still extremely muffled. While I am usually not hung up on technical features, the poor quality of the audio substantially diminished my enjoyment of an otherwise classic movie, which explains the above rating.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2005
Format: DVD
This film could not be made today. With the strict censorship of political correctness anything smacking of stereotype is forbidden. Ironically it was this film that put an end to one kind of stereotype; that a film with black actors couldn't succeed financially. Superfly was a mega hit and is still an enjoyable movie three decades later.

Just what makes this movie great? Start off with brilliant acting, particularly Ron O'Neal (Priest) and Julius Harris (Scatterman). The fact that O'Neal never had another leading role is a complete mystery. He is so incredibly convincing as Priest, the cocaine dealer who wants to get out of "the life". Now add a soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield that just grooves. Complete the whole scenario with a cathartic ending that will have everyone, black or white, up on their feet cheering. Other films of that era which showcased emerging African-American talent can't compare.

For those who have seen the movie the DVD has a couple of interesting extras. Of note is the present day commentary by screen writer Phil Fenty, producer Sig Shore, and actress Sheila Frazier.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2003
Format: DVD
My friend and I were just talkin' best film scores recently and
this was one of my favorite top 10. Lots of people will say "Shaft"
but main title only and after that the film goes flat for me. This
film has always remained a rougue in the Blax genre because of it's
subject matter. The anti-heroic pimp, (Ron o'Neal) out to make his
last score his biggest before retiring was still a taboo subject
for that era and was an untimely coffin nail for Black films to
come This is by no means to be an entertainment film nor should
it be as a message film but it be reconized as a gothic testamonial to modern day noir and still holds it's own as prime example of supreme 70's film making.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2004
Format: DVD
This movie is kung-fu funkadelic fun.
Unless you really DIG a giant Cadillac with curb-feelers, monster-fur dash and purple detail, the funk of this movie will be lost on you. The film takes itself very seriously. In a way, it was like watching a day in the life of Prince before PURPLE RAIN.
God, I loved the 70's.
mike
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is the ultimate "Cool Outlaw" movie. Ron O'Neals' portrayal of the Man with the Superfly..." probably sent more brothers into fashion stores, drug use and abuse,into pondering the way of the real world then any film since. Is it smooth "artisticaly" as a film? Nope. Hell it feels like a gotdamn documentary. Is Priest a bad role model,in both meanings of the word, yes. He is just tooo cool. Carl Lee as Eddie his soon to be corrupted main dawg, is equally good, up until the time they were coopted by the swines, you know he had Priests' back. This is a macho Dickens tale. At the time it came out we debated whether Priest should have told Eddie what he had on the police commissioner, whether or not Eddie would've chortled evily and said," Not only are we in, baby but we rule this ...' town!" drawing Priest further into the darkness. Curtis Mayfield was cheated out of an Oscar for his musical score which is far more superior than Isaac Hayes' lighter music for Shaft. For mood and flavor this film goes beyond its blaxploitation limitations and is a grim journey into the otherside of America's love with outlaws and the consequences for doing so.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
Superfly is the story of a man named Priest, however he was no priest. He grew up a black man in the heart of lower Harlem and quickly learned to be a playa. At the age of 17, he was thrown out of high school for assaulting a teacher and began his life on the streets. After multiple arrests, and many brushes with death, Priest decided enough was enough. He had lost his woman to the "Dagos" in a brilliant depiction of race tensions in Harlem in 1970's. The only things keeping Priest back was the Kingpins of the hood. Once you were in, you were in for life. It ends with the ultimate race war in the Harlem night. Blacks hit whites, whites hit blacks, and all to the soothing beats of the soul brother Curtis Mayfield. The rest? Watch the movie. It is the best depiction of Harlem drug life in the early seventies to date. A cult classic. - Jerome and Tyrone Billings - Brooklyn, NY
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