BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) - Blu-ray Review

  • Movie Review

  • Details

  • Blu-ray Review

  • Trailer

  • Art

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) - Blu-ray

5 beersWhere’s Sweetback?  He started from the bottom now he's here, man.

It is a movie made for the cool in you. Yes, Babyface, I am copping that title as well for this review. You see, this landmark movie, written, co-produced, scored, edited, directed by and starring Melvin Van Peebles, launched a revolution in filmmaking: Blaxploitation. Indeed, running through the purple haze of the past springs forth Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, newly restored and scanned in 4K from Vinegar Syndrome.

And this film created a revolution in filmmaking from the bottom on up. Peebles threw everything at the screen and was willing to do anything to comment upon the overdose of black misery that was crushing the black community at the time of its release. Not much has changed.  Sad.  Regardless, this film lives on thanks to Vinegar Syndrome’s glorious 4K restoration, presenting the film in the best way possible.

"Guerilla filmmaking doesn’t get any more ballsy than it does with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song."


Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, filmed in 19 days with amateurs as its actors, isn’t so much a film as it is a fever dream about one black man’s attempt to outrun the oppression of white America. And it begins with a sexually-charged situation in which a group of black women fawn over a young Sweetback (portrayed by Melvin’s son, Mario Van Peebles,) as he eats at the dinner table.

Freeze frame on one woman’s excited face. Freeze frame on another. And so on. We soon find out why as the boy is led into one of the women’s bedroom and forced to have sex with her. This orphan is a prize for the size of his member and, as he will be raised in a brothel, knows only the world of pleasure.

While full of unsimulated sex scenes (of which Peebles reportedly contracted an STD and filed for workman’s comp for), Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is an urban nightmare in which armed white policemen try to frame Sweetback for a series of murders he had nothing to do with. Beetle (Simon Chuckster), Sweetback’s boss at the sex show, agrees with the understanding that he will be released for lack of evidence. The community just needs to know someone has been arrested.

At least, that’s the plan. Sweetback, after witnessing the two cops beat another black man, Mu-Mu (Hubert Scales), for insulting them decides to act. What follows is a greasy and super funky extended chase sequence through Los Angeles with music that Earth, Wind & Fire recorded especially for the movie. Experiments in filmmaking – featuring Peebles doing his own stunts without proper support, mixed film ends, dual frames, and layered montages with exciting angles – follows as one black man decides, albeit on the run, to get the oppressor’s boot out of his own ass.

While the film literally does nothing to shake the whole Young Buck stereotype of black sexuality, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song remains a Blaxploitation classic that works, especially in this modern age, shockingly well. The visual stimulation of this film – thanks to the camerawork of cinematographer Robert Maxwell – is hypnotic and creates a poetic landscape of urban surrealism. The locations in and around Los Angeles are interesting and rough, showing a view of the city that studio films never dare to show us. It’s gritty and very real, managing to be both stimulating and purposeful for the story to unfold.

Guerilla filmmaking doesn’t get any more ballsy than it does with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.

Progress, Sweetback. We need you to persevere as the face of racism gets uglier and uglier.

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
97 mins
Director
: Melvin Van Peebles
Writer:
Melvin Van Peebles
Cast:
Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales
Genre
: Crime | Thriller
Tagline:
Dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who have had enough of the Man.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Like you gonna have to kinda lay out, stretch out a little while, be real cool. Kinda lay dead. Ol' Beetle'll let you know what's happenin', what's goin' down."
Theatrical Distributor:
Cinemation Industries
Official Site:
Release Date:
May, 1971
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 29, 2018
Synopsis: After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) - Blu-ray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome
Available on Blu-ray
- May 29, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD Copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Featuring a new 4K scan from the original 35mm negative, this release from Vinegar Syndrome is a real badass treat. The brand new 1.85:1 HD master is detailed and looks better than ever. Some shots, due to the era of the day, are fuzzier than others but the image is reasonably well defined with crisp contrasts and solid textures. Colors are solid, with reds being a standout. Blacks are, too. The disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono soundtrack.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Featuring film historian Sergio Mims for the film’s running time, this commentary is an excellent take on the history, the importance, and the impact of Sweetback upon the culture.

Special Features:

Featuring a booklet with an essay by Travis Crawford and a new interview from the man himself, Melvin Van Peebles, this release is a must-own. We also get a new interview with Niva Rochelle who talks about her controversial scene.   A Q&A session from the 2013 Black Panther Film Festival is also included, another interview from the director, a 5-minute Still Gallery of images and promotions, and the film’s theatrical trailer. A DVD copy is included with purchase, too.

  • Melvin Van Peebles Career Interview (23 min)
  • Niva Rochelle Interview (31 min)
  • Q&A (36 min)
  • The Real Deal (22 min)
  • Still Gallery (5 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) - Blu-ray

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home Home Video BADass B-Movies Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) - Blu-ray Review
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes