Directed by Jack Hill.
Starring Pam Grier, Booker Bradshaw, Robert DoQui, Sid Haig, William Elliot, Allan Arbus, Linda Haynes and Carol Lawson.
A nurse takes matters into her own hands after her sister is given some bad junk by local drug dealers.
Having released Jack Hill’s 1974 blaxploitation classic Foxy Brown on Blu-ray a couple of years back, it’s taken Arrow Films a while to get to Hill’s previous – and arguably better – Pam Grier-starring thriller Coffy. Has it been worth the wait? You betcha jive ass!
Coffy (Grier) is a nurse by day but during her off hours she takes local hoodlums to task in a variety of ways as she seeks revenge for her younger sister being hospitalised after taking a stash of bad drugs, as well as her other siblings having fallen by the wayside due to keeping bad company. The opening 10 minutes of the film set the scene as Coffy picks up a local crime kingpin and goes back to his pad, with the only weapon losing its load that evening being Coffy’s shotgun, and if you enjoy these opening scenes of sex and violence then things only get better for you as Coffy is 90 minutes of pure kickass revenge movie, with every hoodlum and creep she meets coming to a bloody end.
It could be said that Coffy is a standard film within the blaxploitation/grindhouse genres in terms of plot but that’s only really because it is a movie that has been parodied and homaged so that the original now seems a little formulaic. The truth of it is, however, that Coffy laid down the template for others to follow and, along with Gordon Park’s Super Fly and Shaft, is responsible for that formula; even Jack Hill couldn’t really better it and the following year’s Foxy Brown, while still having merits of its own, was really just a retread of this movie.
And as with Foxy Brown, it is Pam Grier that really makes this movie. Of course, she’s extremely beautiful and she does get naked on several occasions but Grier also exhibits a kind of sassiness that very few female actors manage to make a career out of. It would be fair to say that Pam Grier isn’t the best actress in the world but she more than makes up for her occasionally trying-too-hard line delivery by just being so mesmerizing to watch.
While Coffy is really Pam Grier’s movie there are more than enough supporting characters to keep things interesting when she isn’t on the screen, the most amusing being Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects) as Russian enforcer Omar. Always able to make any movie he is in instantly better, Haig worked with Pam Grier and Jack Hill on several movies playing a variety of characters but here he simply plays a heavy (with a dodgy accent and nice line in poolside attire) and, like Grier but in a different way, his appearances on the screen are always welcome.
As with the Foxy Brown disc there are a clutch of handsome extras that include brand new interviews with Jack Hill and Pam Grier, along with featurettes about blaxploitation and the usual array of trailers, stills and a collector’s booklet that make it an even more enticing package than just having an HD version of the movie. The picture quality of the film is crisp and colourful, especially the bright yellow and purple pimp suits that seem to be the garments of choice for most of the drug pushers in the film, and retains some of that ‘70s grindhouse grain to keep it feeling authentic. Naturally, if you’re a fan of blaxploitation or a Quentin Tarantino fan who hasn’t yet seen the reason why Pam Grier was cast in Jackie Brown then this is an essential purchase and makes a terrific double bill with Arrow’s Foxy Brown release. If, however, you’ve yet to be converted to the blaxploitation cause then this is as good a place to start as any.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★