Superfly (4 stars)

Superfly

Update of the blaxploitation classic that combines homage with canny contemporary twists

'Ain't nobody more gangster than the bank,' runs a caustic line from Director X's timely update of classic 1972 blaxploitation thriller Super Fly. With the location switched from New York to Atlanta, clothes and guns pimped-out to current specifications, and Curtis Mayfield's original score sitting alongside fresh tunes from Future, 2018's Superfly is pretty slick in its own right.

Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson) is an affluent coke dealer suffering from nightclub ennui, the attention of career cop Detective Mason (Jennifer Morrison) and ruthless competition in the form of a gang known as Snow Patrol. With their all-white accessories, Snow Patrol's cleaning bills are presumably crushing, and their business methods are consequently brutal. When an attack on his life leads to an innocent woman being injured, Priest decides to hustle one last big score, swap his stash of cash for crypto and head for Montenegro, with various factions blocking his exit route.

The ensuing war of attrition recycles parts of its predecessor, right down to the 'one cop, one bag' finale, but Alex Tse's script adds a political spin that ties the film into the modern world, and even addresses the activism of the Black Lives Matter movement without too much hypocrisy. At the same time, Director X delivers copious B-movie exploitation elements, including a three-car chase showcasing the bling that veteran producer Joel Silver (Die Hard) always brings, while the explosive punch-line offers a wry comment on the debate about Atlanta's Confederate monuments.

Ultimately, Priest's game is 'chess not checkers', and Tse manages to highlight the smart thinking of the protagonist in the same way that made the original film so distinctive. The aesthetic may have changed with the passing decades, but this superfly guy remains the man of the hour.

General release from Fri 14 Sep.

SuperFly

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 56min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Director X
  • Cast: Trevor Jackson, Jason Mitchell, Lex Scott Davis
  • UK release: 14 September 2018

Youngblood (Jackson) is a coke dealer who decides to hustle one last big score and leave the business. The script gives it a political spin that ties it into the modern world and the copious B-movie exploitation elements keep things fun. In its way, as smart, distinctive and sharp as the original.

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