Coffy coverDirector: Jack Hill
Script: Jack Hill
Cast: Pam Grier, Booke Bradshaw, Robert Doqui, William Elliot, Allan Arbus, Sid Haig
Running time: 90 minutes
Year: 1973
Certificate: 18

Coffy is out for revenge against drug pushers and pimps for the way they treated her younger sister, who is now in rehab recovering from a heroin addiction. In the opening scenes sassy Coffy (Pam Grier) picks up a drug dealer, seduces him and then blows his head off with a shotgun.

The next day she goes to see her sister at a junior rehab centre with a mate of hers, a cop called Carter. He’s impressed with her caring side (she’s also a nurse), but little does he know what she’s really up to at night on the mean streets of the city. The same cop later refuses to take a bribe so he’s beaten into a coma by a local gangster’s hoods and Coffy decides to take revenge for him too.

She does this by pretending to be an exotic escort, Mystique, and agrees to hustle for local pimp, King George, so that she can be nearer the action and find out who she needs to wreak revenge on. She soon finds out that her wannabe politician boyfriend, Ruben, is involved and he joins her already long black-list of rather flamboyantly dressed targets.

 

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Coffy, like most Blaxploitation films, is very much a product of its time. During the early seventies film producers suddenly realised that there was a vast untapped market out there – namely the black population of the USA. Following the overnight success of Blaxploitation classic ‘Shaft’, with Richard Roundtree, filmmakers were looking for other stars to help them tap into this ever-increasing new market. Pam Grier was ready and willing and the rest is history.

Coffy is one of her best films and she proves that she’s not just a pretty face with a lot of sass. She’s also a sensitive badass to boot! Grier does emotional scenes equally as well as kicking someone through a window or blowing their arm off. She also looks incredibly ‘foxy’, even if her wardrobe in such films often consists of fashion that history is trying desperately to forget!

The supporting cast are good value too, including a very young looking Sid Haig, here playing a gangster’s henchman with an evil twinkle in his eye. He too soon realises that Coffy’s seduction routine can be more deadly than delicious!

The fashions of the time are quite comical by todays more conservative standards, but this was a time when pimps were extremely flamboyant and dealers had afros bigger than their stashes. For example, at one point, pimp King George wears a mustard coloured play suit, loads of chains and a brown fedora hat, whilst carrying a silver-headed cane. Nice!

 

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The dialogue is ripe for repeatability and there’s a lot of unintentional comedy moments to be had on hearing some of the more fruity conversations between these black marketers.

The film is nicely shot and there’s good use of some interesting locations throughout.

And one has to also mention the soundtrack by Roy Ayers which is oozing with character and cool. In fact the whole film could easily define cool. Coffy is cool…

Coffy has been released on Blu-ray by Arrow Films who have also done a bang up job on the extras, as per usual. These include an audio commentary with writer/director Jack Hill, a recent interview with said director, an interview with star Pam Grier about the role of Coffy and its follow-up ‘Foxy Brown’, plus a documentary on Blaxploitation cinema, a trailer, a gallery, reversible sleeve and an informative booklet with new essays concerning the film. I haven’t had chance to view all these yet, but the quality of most Arrow extras is very good and there’s no reason to think these will be any different.

Coffy
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About The Author

Justin Richards is a journalist by day and a scriptwriter by night. His work has appeared in the darker recesses of the internet and in various niche publications including ITNOW, The Darkside, Is it Uncut?, Impact and Deranged. When he’s not sitting hunched over a sticky, crumb-laden keyboard he’s paying good money to have people in pyjamas try and kick him repeatedly in the face.

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