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Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (30th Anniversary Special Edition)

3.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (30th Anniversary Special Edition)

Product Details

  • Actors: Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales, John Dullaghan, John Amos
  • Directors: Melvin Van Peebles
  • Format: NTSC, Color
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Xenon Pictures
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004LY8QCK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,822 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

The most important thing to understand about this film is that if you're getting it just because you expect to live up the expectations of its genre... you better not... in fact, that was the debate over Sweetback for years : what was it ? the world's first blaxsploitation film or the world's first black social empowerment movie, a black porno flick or deep social satire ??? B-move trash or a brilliantly inspired art movie... - - The truth is, the strength and weakness of SWEETBACK is that its really all of this, but if you're expecting it to meet the mold of any one of these genre's you'll be disappointed... and that's part of the fun of the film... getting past the shock to see the message, and the message to dig the shock... and just riding along with Sweetback (EWF's soundtrack definitely makes that part easy !) With its gritty, funky tale and soundtrack, ample booty, controversial story no doubt that there's something in it to both appease and offend just about anyone that watches it... so the best thing to do is put it like this : SWEETBACK is a genre all of its own... just sit and watch it in suspended judgement and disbelief... watch it, again and again and again... Depending upon who you are you'll either find it tasty and addictive... or... well, revolting and disgusting... whatever... the fact is when you watch it there's one thing you won't come away seeing, "Man this film reminds me of a film I've seen 100 times before..." Nope... no one really did it before Peebles, and no one (despite all the films it inspired) did it after and that's why you should see it... but again... don't expect Shaft, Rudy Ray Moore or Superfly... that's not what the film is about... and whatever you do DO NOT WATCH IF EASILY OFFENDED... Now, on with the *****ing contest ! ! !
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In 1971, Melvin Van Peebles managed to get this little gem released by Cinemation Industries, a low-budget exploitation distributor and launched into theatres, consequently launching what would come to be known as Blaxpoitation at the same time. True, there were other black films before this one, but never one like it, and really, there never would be again.
Melvin van plays Sweetback, a professional stud who works live sex shows, who is picked up by the cops to help them look as though they are working on a murder case. But when, the cops stop to rough up a revolutionary, Sweetback suddenly develops revolutionary ideas of his own and beats up the cops with his own handcuffs and goes on the run. That's essentially it, and what may seem boring, dated, disgusting and/or silly to most people, was some radical stuff back in 71. [...] It's radical enough now, you ain't ever seen a film like this! During his travels, Sweetback encounters all kinds of opposition (cops, biker gangs, posses etc), sees all kinds of places in the ghetto (baptist churches, rat-infested tenements, and finally the dessert)and is subjected to all kinds of experimental film making (colour tints, subjective shots, weird angles, freeze-frames etc.)
What makes this film so different and exciting for me, is that having obviously been made with private money and many, many miles away froma studio, it can and does push the politics and revolutionary rhetoric right in your face and believe me it does! It is little wonder that Huey Newton (supposedly) made this required viewing for the Black Panther Party and that within a short time films like Shaft, Superfly and their clones were filling the cinemas on 42nd Street.
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Without the historical context in the early 70s, `Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song' makes no sense at all. But if you have some knowledge about so-called blaxploitaion films, minor film genre made mainly for Afro-American audiences in the 70s, `Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song' is still a very bizarre experience to you. And I am a Japanese, fan of Pam Grier films, but I believe the film about `Sweet Sweetback' looks strange wherever you live.

The content or message of `Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song' can be summarized in the following words you will see at the beginning of the film: "This film is dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man." Most probably before this film no film had ever tried to show a black character hitting and knocking out a white (and a white cop for that matter), and for better or worse, the way the film does it is amazingly raw and crude.

The Man is represented by several non-descriptive white cops who beat up a black. When star and director Melvin Van Peebles says he had enough, he (or his character) shows it by bludgeoning the cops senseless. The police (largely whites) are not competent enough to chase Sweetback, and he gets away very easily from them. By the conventional standard of narrative, the film is almost pointless, going on and on without showing where it is leading us. Occasionally we see Sweetback helped by some and betrayed by others (including blacks), or the strange episodes of Sweetback drinking the water in the mud.

It might look strange today that the film actually became a big hit in 1971, but it did. What distinguishes `Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song' from the films like `Shaft' and `Coffy' both commercial success, is the crudeness of its message and the techniques.
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