Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Coffy (1973)

I sort of want to cover some slightly different ground so starting with this post, you will be seeing more grindhouse/exploitation films reviewed on the site.

To kick things off, let's go with a double barreled blast of Pam Grier. After doing a series of Women in Prison flicks for Roger Corman (we'll delve into that pool later on), Pam teamed with Jack Hill for two of the leanest, meanest action movies you are likely to find, the first of which we will cover today and the second at a later date. Both films we will be looking at are B-grade action at its best with Pam coming off as a more talented and certainly more attractive Steven Seagal (I'll explain this down below). We got quite a fun (sort of) road to go down so let's kick things off with a cup of Coffy.

Right from the start we're in 70's action movie heaven as our heroine is introduced to us as she sends a few bad guys to hell. Nothing says "I am a total bad ass out for revenge" quite like having Coffy introduced as she confronts a drug dealer who put her sister in a coma and his flunky by posing as a desperate junkie, bloodily ventilating the dealer's skull with a shotgun and making the flunky take a fatal overdose. Right off the bat, we get the point that you should never make a Pam Grier action hero angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.
The thing that really makes Pam stand out as an action hero is just how frankly emotional she is willing to get. Generally, you get a cool exterior, maybe some seething rage and a few smart ass quips but here you get an angry, nearly unhinged (she practically has a mental breakdown while killing the flunky) woman out for blood and it's riveting. She even works this into her physicality as we get fight scenes that are not smoothly choreographed like a dance but rather sloppy, undisciplined brawling. Sort of like a real fight, funnily enough.

This extends to the action stuff as while someone like Stallone or Eastwood will be happy with beating you up and/or shooting you, Pam will go out of her way to make sure you go out in a really, really horrible manner in as much pain as she can make you feel. It really says something that the guy who gets his head blown open at close range can be said to be "let off easy".

After a little bit of character building where we meet Coffy's former lover who is also a cop and her current beau who is a politician, said cop is crippled and if you thought our hero was pissed off before, now, as a certain Marvel superhero would say, "It's clobberin' time!"

 From there, she goes after a drug dealing pimp and his mob partner, played by Robert DoQui and Allan Arbus respectively. Both are appropriately nasty pieces of work (in other words, both are sadistic and violent and Arbus is a racist, sexist, perverted scumbag) after getting info from a former patient of hers (by way of intimidating the living hell out of her naturally which is easy when you're already a little unhinged to begin with), she goes after the two baddies posing as a Jamaican prostitute.

What can I say? It's a 70's action movie.

She manages to overcome the usual obstacles (though Pam can't quite nail the accent but really that sort of adds to the film's charm) including a wild cat fight between her and every hooker in the room at a party(this lands the film most of its nudity quotient); a menacing henchman played by genre vet Sid Haig and even the heartbreak of her boyfriend turning out to be in with the mob and betraying her. Needless to say, this proves to be a poor life decision on his part. Really poor. Hell may have no fury like woman scorned but it is doubly so when she's packing a loaded shotgun and is already more than a little pissed off to begin with.

Coffy is a gritty, nasty little hunk of action chock full of every politically incorrect 70's movie trope you can think of. There is sleaze, sadism, violence, nudity, you name it and this film gives it to you courtesy of some solid direction from Jack Hill. Hill made a bunch of B-movies and this is probably his best work. Pam Grier holds the thing together with a solid lead performance, giving us a heroine we can get behind. You really want her to obliterate every bad guy she comes across. Coffy is probably the quintessential 70's exploitation flick.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.