Thursday, February 25, 2010
Man that Samson is one rightious dude!
BLACK SAMSON (1974)
D. Chuck Bail
* NOTE: The screen grabs featured in this review are actually from a VHS source and do not reflect the quality of the DVD source being reviewed.
This minor blaxploitation classic doesn't get much ink, which is probably because it was somewhat difficult to see until now. Thanks to the release of the Warner Brothers Urban Action four pack (including BLACK BELT JONES, THREE THE HARD WAY, HOT POTATO and BLACK SAMSON the only film in the set not featuring Jim Kelly) fans can finally see all the big African staff ass whoopin's, sedated lions, bouncing white titties, bad dubbing of background extras, bug eyed cocaine fiends and William Smith beating up women as you can handle. This is black foot to white ass classic seventies cinema.
Samson (Rockne Tarkington) is a bar owner in a small part of town. He keeps his little corner of paradise drug free and is well respected for it. The pushers on the outer edges are mostly cats he grew up with and have agreed to stay out of his turf out of respect. His club is one that everyone enjoys, young, old, rich, poor; everyone loves coming there, mostly because they love Samson. He keeps his pet lion on the bar at all times, and the lion just calmly chills there, watching the crowd and interacting with the local old town drunk Samson has taken in (Napoleon Whiting) in some rather funny scenes.
But when local Mafia arm breaker Johnny Nappa (a scene chewing William Smith) and his buddy, the bigot mouth Arthur (Michael Payne), start causing trouble, it's time for Samson to bring out the six foot African cane and whip the shit out of Arthur to prove who's really boss.
Nappa goes home and beats up his lovely blond girlfriend (Connie Strickland) to prove his manhood, while Samson makes sweet, sweet love to his big afroed, philosophy spewing babe (Carol Speed). Turns out the Italian mob want to start peddling the dope on Samson's streets, but in a weird plot turn, the old Mafioso refuses to do it if it will require violence to convince him. At this point, he and Samson have a sit down and agree to let it go. It is hot headed, racist Nappa who keeps at it. Sending his girlfriend to be a dancer at Samson's club to spy, then beating the shit out of her when she becomes friends with Samson's woman.
Eventually it all comes down to a chase which leads Nappa and his gang straight into Samson's hood, where they're trapped. All through the movie, one of the big bones of contention is that the people of the neighborhood supposedly wouldn't stand up for Samson the way he stands up for them. That his idealism is just that, a false security for people who do not appreciate it. Turns out, those who believe that are very wrong, as the entire hood come out to Samson's defense cornering the white gang pummeling them from the rooftops with pots, pans, beds, tables, refrigerators and anything else they can hurl from windows and rooftops. A few of the good guys get shot, but not before a lot of villains are smashed up real good. Which leads to a showdown between Nappa and Samson which must be seen to be believed. Starting with Nappa yelling out at the top of his lungs "Nigggggggggggggggggeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrr" (an infamous someone once left that exact thing on my answering machine while drunk...).
The final fight is a weird one. William Smith is awesome when matched with someone who can keep up with him like Fred Williamson. Their fight in BUCKTOWN is one of the all time great fight scenes. But Rockne Tarkington is no Fred Williamson. They roll around on the dirty mattressess flailing and flapping like two ducks fucking. Smith tries to make it look manly but it keeps going to the ground, and finishing up with lame kicks that Rudy Ray Moore would have demanded they speed up in the editing. All in all it is certainly amusing. But being that this is directed by 70's stunt man extraordinaire Chuck Bail you would have expected that final fight scene to be seriously the shit. It is clearly the lead actor who lets it down.
The dubbing in the film is hilarious as well. Anytime the bar is full there is a chorus of voices, clearly not being spoken by anyone on screen, saying things like "Man! That Samson is one righteous DUDE!!!" If you listen carefully ,at one point you can even hear someone say "Look, I'm talking but my lips aint even movin!!!" This insane off screen narrator bit would be put to more effective use by Lloyd Kauffman in every movie he ever made.
The new Warner's four Pack looks awesome. These aren't exactly demo material, but the films are letterboxed and look way better than they ever have. My only complaint is no extras, not even the easily accessible trailers. Bummer about that, but the films are great, and BLACK SAMSON is the gem of the bunch.
Review © Andrew Copp