Anytime I can sit back and watch Fred Williamson and Jim Brown act tough, count me in. Now add in Richard Roundtree and Jim Kelly and you would think it can’t get any better than this. Unfortunately it can.
Throwing this quartet of macho film stars together in a film has always been a good idea and their paths have crossed over the years prior to this entry. Williamson, Brown and Kelly had previously made a western from Antonio Margheriti titled Take a Hard Ride and also the campy Three the Hard Way at the height of the blaxploitation craze in the mid 70’s. Roundtree for my money was in the best flick of the genre hands down, Shaft which spawned 2 sequels and a short lived television series.
Fred Williamson does triple duty here as star, producer and director. As much as I like Fred’s on screen persona with thin cigar always present, I wish he had left the directing duties to a firmer hand as the action scenes are generally the weakest part of the picture when they should be the strongest. I didn’t expect too much from the film as this is very typical of the action movies that would turn up on VHS back in the day when I would make my way over to the video store and have no idea where most of the titles came from as there certainly were not playing at the local cinema before turning up on tape. Hence the phrase “direct to video”. Still there is enjoyment to be had with Brown laying a classic threat on a banker and Williamson’s line “you may be good in Kung Fu but I’m an expert in Gun Fu”.
For a better time, check out the original 70’s flicks from these iconic guys starting with Williamson in Black Caesar, Brown in Slaughter, Kelly of course in Enter the Dragon and Roundtree’s Shaft. Perhaps even the 1996 reunion flick Original Gangstas. Although Kelly isn’t in that one it does add the Queen of the genre Pam Grier.
Good suggestions at the end there, a few I haven’t seen to add to my list that never ends.
There were some really fun movies from the early 70’s in the genre and these guys along with Grier were solid. My list never seems to get smaller either.