Foxy Brown (rewatch)
Posted by martinteller on July 25, 2012
Foxy Brown’s boyfriend is a federal narcotics agent with a brand new identity and plastic surgery, to protect him from the sinister heroin/call girl ring that wants his blood. But Foxy’s brother Link fingers him to protect his own hide. When the boyfriend gets iced, Foxy’s out for justice… and revenge.
As I said in my Black Dynamite review, blaxploitation is a genre I’m not very familiar with. Shaft, Superfly, a couple of others, but that’s it. In fact, except for Jackie Brown and a few minor roles here and there, this is my first Pam Grier movie. So I have little feel for the nuances and hidden pleasures of the genre, no sense of history with it. I would like to see more just out of curiosity, but if I’m being totally honest, so far I haven’t gotten much out of these movies.
There is a lot that speaks to the film’s low-budget, quickie production. The dialogue is often clunky and littered with bad jokes (though there are a few great lines). Most of the actors have a stilted, awkward delivery and few of them craft interesting characters. Even the lead is pretty much a nonentity… we have no idea of her background or even what she does for a living. We only know that she’s “a whole lotta woman” (which she is, and I might add Grier easily earns the name of “Foxy”). The film seems hastily constructed around its action scenes, and the writing feels very lazy with characters making implausible leaps of logic. The general amateurishness of it all makes it difficult for the emotional content to resonate.
Which is not to say the movie doesn’t have its charms. Grier has a compelling screen presence, not only due to her looks (and director Jack Hill gives us ample opportunity to examine her figure, making it an exploitation film in more ways than one) but also her steely intelligence and dangerous sensuality. Juanita Brown and Antonio Fargas also stand out in an otherwise lackluster cast. And there are some pretty wild scenes, including a brawl in a lesbian bar and a particularly diabolical use of Grier’s impressive afro. There is a good helping of violence, but it never feels gratuitous, and often speaks as the film’s moral outrage. The politics are on the simplistic side, but at least they’re sympathetic. And not especially outdated… 38 years later and the racial divide is still pronounced.
There’s also Willie Hutch’s awesome soundtrack, which at one point in my life I did own. On vinyl, no less. Does that earn me any cool points? Rating: Fair (66)