There is an amazing movie that I had never seen until last week. That movie is called "The Mack".
At first glance The Mack is just a poor man's Scarface, and is even referenced as Blaxploitation . It often gets discarded and made fun of for it's awful production and over the top story line that reads like something out of a Fielding novel (but in modern day black America). But, if you really look closer at the Mack it's about black poetry, power, and culture. It reverse roles the culture to play against itself. It creates a strange paradox of perception relating to that side of black culture.
I think with Scarface they wanted to tell a Horatio Alger type story. I just don't think Scarface had any soul. The Mack is the same kind of rags to riches story but in between there is constant dialogue about the rules of the street, and the unfairness of the game. Think to yourself about an unpolished scene that preceded Lawrence Fishburn's famous diatribe about gun stores, liquor, and self-destruction in Boyz n' the Hood. The Mack runs circles around the dialogue of Scarface.
I'm not saying the Mack is great cinema but it has it's moments. Don't take it too seriously. But see if in the clip below you can tell that it's much more than just a hit and run gangster/pimp flick.
Plus the movie has Richard Pryor in it!!! Did you know who bank rolled Richard Pryor's first album? Huey P. Newton and Ishmael Reed rolled it. Richard had to be into some heavy shit and I doubt at that point in his career with the voice he had and his own convictions that he would do something that he thought taudry (even if later in life he did do "Moving").
I never met anybody who said when they were a kid, "I wanna grow up and be a critic." - Richard Pryor
The movie itself is based off of Frank Ward, reputed Pimp and drug dealer in the early 70's. He lived the high life but was brought down in the end just like Goldie by having his head blown off. It is speculated that the Black Panthers killed Frank Ward in real life.
Goldie is played by Max Julien, who was also courted by Tarrentino to play Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction but I can see no trace of him doing anything in film after the Mack.
I don't claim that the Mack is a cornerstone of fine cinema, nor do I believe that a large effort to bring about a social message was ingested into the belly of it's producers and made to be birthed via this medium. What I do think is that the Blaxploitation movies of the 70's have a specific flavor to them, much like Kung Fu movies, that can be perceived for more than just a laugh by white college kids sitting around watching them while smoking pot and thinking they are hard or cool.
I think these kinds of movies have a certain boxing beauty to them. There is a way in which they spread out over the course of the film like a blanket. It is difficult to explain because I'm sure this feeling is different with everyone but if you ever get a chance to watch a movie of this genre, try to keep an open mind about the people that made it, who they made it for, and why they made it. I think you'll see it in a different way.
And for shits and giggles I included this unrelated short film making fun of the Juggernaut in true Blaxploitation fashion.