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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Shaft [Blu-ray]

 

(Gordon Parks, 1971)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:17.136

Disc Size: 22,345,854,013 bytes

Feature Size: 16,749,723,648 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.06 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 14th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1031 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1031 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, German, Japanese, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Soul in Cinema - Filming Shaft on Location (10:50)
Shaft: The Killing [1973 TV Episode] (1:13:46)
Trailers (Shaft, Shaft's Big Score, Shaft in Africa)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: "Hotter than Bond. Cooler than Bullitt," movie posters proclaimed. John Shaft was indeed a shut-your-mouth detective to reckon with, a fact emphasized from the film's start by Isaac Hayes' Academy Award-winning Best Original Song and Oscar-nominated score. Richard Roundtree plays the smart, tough, confident lead, a private investigator whose hunt for a kidnapped woman puts him in the middle of feuding syndicates. Gordan Parks directs from a screenplay that Ernest Tidyman (that same year's Oscar-winner for The French Connection) co-scripted from his own novel. John Shaft is an icon of change from an era of change. Today, Shaft still tells it like it is.

 

 

The Film:

Renowned for its Isaac Hayes score, and as the first mainstream, commercially successful film about a black private eye, Parks' film is a hip, cool, entertaining thriller that in fact never really says very much at all about the Black experience in America; rather, it merely takes the traditional crime-fighting hero, paints him black, and sets him down in a world populated by more blacks than Hollywood movies were used to. Roundtree turns in a strong performance, investigating a racketeer's criminal activities, while at the same time trying to find the man's kidnapped daughter.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Richard Roundtree cuts a startlingly new and powerful heroic figure as John Shaft, "the cat who won't cop out, when there's danger all about" in Gordon Parks' seminal action film, Shaft. John Shaft is a black private eye with a small office near Times Square. On his way there one day, he gets pumped for information by Lt. Victor Androzzi (Charles Cioffi), a friend of his on the police force, about something big going down in Harlem involving black crime kingpin Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn). Shaft can't help him and leaves, only to just miss being waylaid by two of Bumpy's strong-arm men at his office, one of whom ends up dead on the pavement eight floors or so below. Squeezed by the cops, who are holding a potential manslaughter arrest over his head, Shaft contacts Bumpy, who reveals that his teenage daughter, whom he's always kept away from his business, has been kidnapped.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Shaft on Blu-ray from Warner looks authentically flat with some texture. It probably looked quite similar to this theatrically over 40 years ago. This is only single-layered with a modest bitrate but I don't expect that anything more robust would dramatically shift the image presentation. Contrast exhibits reasonable black levels. The 1.85:1 original frame has been slightly bastardized to 1.78. This Blu-ray is clean with no intrusive noise and no gloss.  This is how Shaft looked and the limitations reflect a direct representation of its original appearance.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

No boost going on here - its a mono track via a DTS-HD Master at 1031 kbps. But Isaac Hayes' theme sounds great in lossless. Effects are passive but there is some depth exported and, obviously, no range. Still I was impressed with the background tracks supporting the 'coolness'. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Warner supplies some bountiful supplements. Soul in Cinema - Filming Shaft on Location is an 11-minute vintage featurette. There is also the full 1973 TV episode of Shaft: The Killing with Rowntree - it runs 1 1/4 hours and is decent entertainment. Lastly, there are trailers of Shaft, Shaft's Big Score and Shaft in Africa.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Yeah - John Shaft - the appeal is still there. It was the first commercially successful blaxploitation flic. But aside from all the 'cool' it's a well made cop-drama. It was worth more than the nostalgia value - which is still present. This Warner Blu-ray offers a lot with the TV episode as an extra. The modest a/v is a function of the production and still provides an entertaining presentation. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

August 6th, 2012


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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