I bought this movie for $2.99, thinking it would be amusing trash. I had no idea how awesome, wrenching, complex, invigorating, and just downright GOOD it was. A lot of Internet comments have focused on how fun and awesome it is (and it totally is), but I don't see anyone talking about it as a legitimately good movie, so that's what I'm going to address here.
First of all, they just don't make movies like this anymore. Movies today are so sanitized and wiped free of genuine emotion that one doesn't have much of a reaction to them. This movie features RAW emotion, mainly rage and anger. It also doesn't play nice on the brutality. I could not believe Foxy was actually going to be raped... that would NEVER happen in a movie today, and if it did, it would never be treated as casually as it was here. The way she is brutalized in this movie is genuinely shocking, and the ways in which she gets her revenge are equally shocking... and exhilarating. What I'm saying is that you have a real visceral reaction to this movie, and that's a lot more than can be said for most movies nowadays.
Secondly, I don't see anyone talking about the moral complexity of this movie. The whole thing of it being Foxy's own brother who sets the plot in motion brings a lot of ambiguity and depth to both his and Foxy's characters. And then there's Juanita Brown's performance as Claudia. The scene where she goes from drugged-up laughter to hysterical shrieking is just breathtaking... I've seen lots of Best Supporting Actress statues given out for a LOT less. I also liked how the movie didn't make a big deal of how Foxy arranged for Claudia to get out of the business and get back to her husband--and I like that the movie had Foxy do this: i.e. she's helping others around her, not just out for her own revenge.
Finally, there's Pam Grier herself! This movie made me a convert. There's just something so compelling about her; tough, vulnerable, tender, and MEAN when she has to be. There was a moment in this movie where the thought flitted through my head: "How am I going to survive in life if I don't have Foxy to protect me?" I am offically obsessed. Pam, you are a national treasure!
And let us not forget the awesome title sequence and catchy song by Willie Hutch! I have since come into possession of a lot more music by Willie Hutch, and the man is a true God. Go Willie!
As I was watching, I was thinking "I'm amazed no one has tried to remake this. Who would they choose? Probably Halle Berry, though there's no way she could hold a candle to Pam." Well, it was no surprise to see on the IMDb that a remake is due out with Halle Berry. You can just imagine how that's going to be. It will be all sanitized with some decorative "suffering," and then some bloodless revenge. Is Halle's Foxy going to get raped? I highly doubt it. That's why I keep harping on the rape in this movie: it was balls-out NASTY and BRUTAL and pulls no punches. Let's just see how Halle does.
One thing more: I'm not a Tarantino fan, but this film provided a lot of insight into a) Why he would want to make Jackie Brown, and b) a lot of the form and conventions (including the rape) that he followed in Kill Bill. Too bad, in my opinion, this movie is four times as complex and emotionally involving and cathartic as Kill Bill. A lot of that, I think, has to do with how technically proficient and writerly composed Kill Bill is, and a lot of the power of this comes from it being low-budget and without a feeling of being "guided" by a ironic and proficient director.
For God’s sake, YES!!!
COFFY is the decent precursor to this film. A lot of people like it better. “Foxy” was actually supposed to be a direct sequel to it, but they changed their mind at the last minute.
FRIDAY FOSTER follows the formula, but is much sillier and allows Pam to be funny, and is in general the same movie but funny, and with a bunch of hootworthy supporting players.
JACKIE BROWN is both a tribute to Pam and to the movies she was in, and, of course, a lot more.