21st Apr2015

‘Coffy’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Pam Grier, Booker Bradshaw, Robert DoQui, William Elliott, Allan Arbus, Sid Haig, Barry Cahill, Lee de Broux, Ruben Moreno, Lisa Farringer, Carol Locatell, Linda Haynes, John Perak | Written and Directed by Jack Hill


If there is one thing about Quentin Tarantino we can be sure of, it’s that he loves movies. For film fans who don’t know too much about the “Blaxploitation” genre they may not have picked up the importance of Jackie Brown, or the fact that the movie was built around one actress, Pam Grier… To look at the reason for this, all you have to do is look no further than Arrow Video’s latest release Coffy.

Seen as one of the best films of the genre, Coffy (Pam Grier) is a nurse pushed to finding vengeance against the pimps, junkies and drug dealers who led to the hospitalisation of her sister.  Playing out like a female Death Wish Pam Grier created a character that is not only memorable but truly iconic.

When listening to the commentary by director Jack Hill it is eye-opening just how restricted he was in making Coffy and how racist Hollywood was at the time.  The budget provided was small and there were many things that hindered his progress, even down to being able to get the right stunt people to fit the roles, but he fought on and with the help of the cast, mainly Pam Grier, he was able to create the movie that we see today.

Moving away from the politics of Hollywood in the seventies and looking at Coffy as a film, it is actually a fun and amusing film.  Although its plot can be compared to Death Wish it has a lighter tone and has less of an anti-gun message.  In Coffy it’s all about vengeance and Pam Grier kicking ass in only the way she can, and she definitely makes the movie hers.  Praise too has to be given to Sid Haig as one whose subtle comedic work makes him stand out, the obvious chemistry between him and Grier which comes from the fact that they’d worked with each other in the past helps their performances a lot, especially in scenes they appear in together.  Even with the so-called Blaxploitation feel to the film Coffy doesn’t feel too aged, if anything there is a certain eccentric nature to the film which helps it to feel a little more unique than other films that share its seventies setting.

In terms of special features I’ve already mentioned the commentary which is interesting to listen to, especially when Jack Hill gets into the politics of making the movie and what he tried to achieve.  As well as this there is also an interview with Hill, and a separate one with Pam Grier where she reminisces about her memories of the film.  In a further look at Blaxploitation there is also a video essay by author Mikel J. Koven looking at the genre and how it affected the industry and changed a lot both behind and in front of the camera.  As a fan of the history of film, this obviously added to the enjoyment of Coffy for me, as well as educating me on certain elements I didn’t know.

Historically Coffy is important and should be watched to see Grier at her best.  While it is violent the tone of the film still manages to be light and there is a knowing edge to what we see on the screen.  Even with its low-budget the picture quality on the Blu-ray is excellent and with the special features it’s obvious that Arrow Video have given the film the love it deserves.  More importantly though the quality of the release pays tribute to Pam Grier and her performance.  A true icon of cinema she deserves all the praise she gets.

***** 5/5

Coffy is available on Blu-ray in the UK now from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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