I’ve been casually watching some of the more classic blaxploitation movies recently, like “Coffy” and “Shaft,” but if I’m being honest, “Super Fly” is the first one that’s left me close to indifferent. The same grimy, seedy New York City atmosphere found in the aforementioned blaxploitation entries is there, but it’s just about the other thing I enjoyed with no reservations. Admittedly, Ron O’Neal’s Priest isn’t really my cup of tea: I’m blind to O’Neal’s appeal either as an actor and a screen icon, and his character is a huge asshole, so I wasn’t particularly interested in his character arc here – and it’s not exactly a redemption arc, because his coke-dealer-trying-to-get-out-of-the-life narrative path doesn’t include any atonement, it’s simply a means to an end. It helps that the screenplay includes conversations about the socio-economic realities of impoverished black people in the 1970s because it grounds the film in a reality that’s both undeniable and still around today – thereby enhancing its impact – but the character left a bad taste in my mouth regardless. Along the way there are some cool elements here and there, like a resolution that’s surprisingly compelling and a solid soundtrack overseen by Curtis Mayfield, but there’s also some laughable fight scenes and an icky sex scene in a tub that turned my face into a cringe factory. So all in all, I’m somewhere in the middle on “Super Fly” – I can see why lots of people love it and I liked some parts of it, but as a whole, I’d say it’s pretty okay at best.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)