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Shaft in Africa

Updated: Oct 25, 2023


The third and final film in the original Richard Roundtree SHAFT trilogy, 1973’s SHAFT IN AFRICA is a pretty entertaining crime thriller that hops the globe from NYC to Africa to France.

Armed with a much bigger budget than the first two films in the series, it opens in France, where a modern day (well at least an early seventies modern-day) slave ring is bringing truckloads of people into France, forcing them to live huddled in a couple rooms and charging them most of their pay for their cramped quarters.

When the crime ring kills the son of royalty, the royal family reps come to NYC and enlist private detective John Shaft (Roundtree) to go undercover in the ring in Africa. They arm him with a big old club with camera equipment inside and Shaft takes off Bond-style to Africa.

Like OO7, Shaft manages to battle plenty of henchmen and get a lecture from the bad guys with all the details of their plan. Shaft also finds time in his adventures to bed several beautiful women, including Vonetta McGee (a major star at the time in “Hammer” and “Blacula”, both major box-office hits of the era) and the kinky mistress of the Bond-villain like Amafi (played with major menace by Frank Finlay).

The screenplay is by Ernest Tidyman (The French Connection) and Sterling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night, The Towering Inferno) and John Guillermin, who also directed The Blue Max and The Towering Inferno, directs it. He keeps the action moving all the way to its fast paced conclusion at a huge estate outside Paris.

Roundtree is a lot of fun as Shaft, beating up bad guys all over the world and proving every bit as resourceful as his licensed to kill counterpart.

Johnny Pate provides some great music, including the Four Tops hit “Are You Man Enough”.

It’s all very dated and pretty hilarious sometimes in its seventies “cool” dialogue. It’s loaded with that era’s frank sex and nudity and doesn’t pull any punches. It didn’t get any cooler than Roundtree as John Shaft in the early seventies.

His final adventure of the series gets a B-.

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