Shaft’s Big Score! (1972)

shafts big score poster 1972 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Shaft's back!

Big and bolder doesn't always mean better, but it still fun

Movie Info

Movie Name: Shaft’s Big Score!

Studio:  MGM/Shaft Productions

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Blaxploitation

Release Date(s):  June 20, 1972 (Premiere)/June 21, 1972 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

shafts big score richard roundtree

Why does everyone want to kill me? I’m a nice guy!

John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) receives a call from his friend Cal Asby (Robert Kya-Hill) with a warning of impending danger.  When Asby is killed, Shaft must find out why.  With Asby’s partner Johnny Kelly (Wally Taylor) as a potential suspect as he moves in on Asby’s turf, Shaft discovers Kelly might be working with industrialist and mob boss Gus Mascola (Joseph Mascolo) who also wasn’t fond of Asby’s plans for Queens.  Everyone is gunning for Shaft, and a hidden nest egg must be found before it is too late.

Directed by Gordon Parks, Shaft’s Big Score! is a blaxploitation action-thriller.  The movie is a sequel to Shaft from 1971 and was met with less favorable reviews.  The Criterion Collection released Shaft’s Big Score! as part of the Shaft release (Criterion #1130).

shafts big score richard roundtree joseph mascolo

Listen, Stefano…this crap might fly in Salem, but not in my town!

Shaft was a lot of fun and its wide commercial success meant that more films would try to follow in Shaft’s Academy Award winning footsteps.  While Shaft’s Big Score! doesn’t feel like a knock-off of Shaft, it doesn’t have the same energy and grittiness of Shaft…despite bigger and bolder action sequences.

The story is more straightforward.  There is a hidden “treasure”, and Shaft must find it before the bad guys.  There is less turncoats and mystery involving the film and the ending turns into a straight-up chase involving cars, boats, and helicopters.  It has less of a noir feel than the original.

Richard Roundtree is still a cool cat as John Shaft, but in this one it feels like he gets a few more bumps and bruises in the process.  He’s pitted against Wally Taylor and classic soap opera baddie Joseph Mascolo (as the evil white guy trying to move in on the Black operated numbers racket).  Moses Gunn and Drew Bundini Brown return from the first Shaft, and The Rockford Files vet Joe Santos plays a henchman of Mascolo with Rosalind Miles and Kathy Imri as the female leads.

shafts big score boat chase richard roundtree

Boat chases, car chases, helicopter chases…Shaft’s got himself a budget!!!

The movie has a bigger budget and it shows simply in the ending sequence.  There is a big car chase and helicopter chase on the river.  Shaft had that real 1970s grit to it and this film feels a lot cleaner.  It still has the trademarks of a blaxploitation movie, but this obviously isn’t in the same category as some of the lower budget films of the same genre.  This time O.C. Smith tries to capture Isaac Hayes’s lightning in a bottle again with “Blowin’ Your Mind” main theme, but it can’t top the theme to Shaft.

Shaft’s Big Score! is a fun action movie, but it doesn’t have the power of the original Shaft.  If you are a fan of the genre, action, and the character, it is a must, but just don’t go in expecting a repeat of the first film.  Shaft’s Big Score! was followed by Shaft in Africa in 1973.

Related Links:

Shaft (1971)

Shaft (2000)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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