Coffy (1973)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Genres: Action, Blaxploitation, Crime Thriller
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Jack Hill Jack Hill
Pam Grier Pam Grier
Booker Bradshaw Booker Bradshaw
Robert DoQui Robert DoQui
William Elliott William Elliott
Allan Arbus Allan Arbus

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: March 01, 2007
Back in her time, Pam Grier was the undisputed queen of the blaxploitation flick. Younger viewers may know her better as Jackie Brown, but she had quite a long string of leading roles during the seventies, and Coffy was her first. So then, why was she considered the queen of blaxploitation, and did her first outing warrant this status? Read on for my thoughts.

Coffy (Pam Grier) is a nurse by day and an ass-kicking sista by night. You see, a drug-dealer got her eleven-year-old sister hooked on smack, and as a result, she wound up hospitalized after a bad fix. This prompts Coffy to take vengeance on the dealers and the pimps who push their product throughout the local neighborhood, and she introduces her first victim to the business-end of a shotgun as a form of vengeance. Although he had it coming to him, Coffy is disturbed at having committed murder, and she takes consolation from both her congressman boyfriend Howard Brunswick (Booker Bradshaw) and her former lover Carter (William Elliott). Carter is a police officer, and as he eventually reveals to Coffy, the other officers are putting the squeeze on him in an attempt to get him to take money from the pushers for protection from the law. Carter is a straight and honest man, so he turns down their offers... and winds up with brain damage after receiving a baseball-bat beat-down by some mobsters. Coffy sets out to once again gain some vengeance on the guys who did this, and her efforts lead her to a pimp known as King George (Robert DoQui), his dealer Arturo Vitroni (Allan Arbus), and Vitroni's right-hand man Omar (Sid Haig).

Most blaxploitation films were marketed towards males, and as such, the women had little to do in them other than to show off their tits, give the male lead a sex scene, and / or get themselves kidnapped so that the man had something to do. With Coffy, the roles were reversed: the male gets his ass kicked, and it's up to the leading lady to set things right and gain an order of retribution. Grier went on to star in a number of similar films, and with good reason: not only was she smoking-hot, but she was also a damned fine actress who could take command of a movie while coming across as totally natural. When you watch some of the recent movies that feature women in ass-kicking roles, you rarely get the impression that yes, that lady is one bad mutha; instead, you usually think something along the lines of "Oh, that was choreographed nicely." The same can not be said about Grier; from the first scene of the film right on up until the credits rolled, I never once felt that she seemed out of place in this sort of role.

Now then, although the roles had been reversed this time around, this film was still marketed towards men. There are plenty of explosions, fight scenes, car chases, shoot-outs, and yes, tits (mostly courtesy of Grier herself). This was worked into the plot quite nicely, as Coffy used her sexuality to get in good with the men that she was after, and she'd strike just as they were taking off their pants for a little one-on-one in the bedroom. Believable? On paper, probably not; but once you get a good look at Coffy in the buff, you'll probably change your mind and see why any straight man would let his guard down in this situation.

While I wouldn't call it the best of the bunch when it comes to blaxploitation, it's definitely a great movie and should be near the top of the list for those of you who are interested in pursuing films from the genre. It has everything one would expect from better action films, and if nothing else, the interaction between Sid Haig and Pam Grier alone (who played off of one another in numerous other films) makes it worth the price. 8/10.
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