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1 review, 4 user ratings

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Foxy Brown
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by Jay Seaver

"Rack & wrath."
3 stars

Huh - given how this movie is the one people usually bring up when talking about how awesome early-seventies Pam Grier was, I figured it came before "Coffy", which was trying to recapture what made it work, when in fact "Foxy Brown" came out a year later (and was originally intended to be a sequel). Now, neither of those movies are really good, but imagine what they'd be without Grier: Even if she isn't really much of an actress yet and is getting parts mostly based on her bust, she's still got the sort of charisma that makes a B movie more entertaining than it has any right to be.

As this movie opens, Foxy Brown's good-for-nothing brother Link (Antonio Fargas) is in deep trouble, and needs his sister (Grier) to bail him out. She does, and while he insists he's on the straight and narrow - except that he had to borrow money from loan sharks to get there - it's not long before he realizes that Foxy's new boyfriend (Terry Carter) is the missing-presumed-dead informer (undercover cop, actually) with plastic surgery. Soon enough, he's back in the hospital and Foxy's looking for revenge. Fortunately, the people responsible - boss Katherine Wall (Kathryn Loder) and her chief enforcer Steve Elias (Peter Brown) run a prostitution ring, and that's something the curvaceous Foxy can infiltrate pretty quickly.

Let's be frank: Despite being plenty memorable, this movie isn't really good at all. Writer/director Jack Hill was working for Roger Corman's American-International Pictures, where the goal was to serve up sex & violence and cut whatever other corners can be cut. As a result, pretty much all the performances are terrible - Loder, in particular, makes for a flat, dull villain - and the story is tremendously haphazard, just dropping new bits in randomly. Plus, it is downright ugly at times, especially in how it treats its heroine, just not recognizing the line between fun action/enjoyable skin and the stuff that makes the audience want to take a shower.

But it's got Grier as Foxy, and she is fantastic as the stalwart heroine who is capable of anything that needs to be done once she's been roused from her hibernation. It's a better part than it might be; for all it's built as a woman using her sex appeal as her main weapon, it's just as much about her unwillingness to back down. That's pretty great. And while Foxy is such a wild card in her world as to be practically undefined - she's given no job, no friends beyond her boyfriend, and knows people but doesn't seem to have much of a history with them - Grier pours so much personality into her that it doesn't matter.

The film isn't quite all Pam Grier; like a lot of blaxploitation films, it's got a pretty fantastic soundtrack, this time courtesy of Willie Hutch. The automobile action is quite well done, with the sequence that opens the movie raising hopes higher than you might expect. And there's an energy to the movie that can't be denied that goes beyond Grier and her sex appeal. Don't get me wrong - finding ways to show her in various stages of undress is the motivation behind a lot of scenes, with Hill finding the happy border between doing it because he can and because that's where the story brings him. But the energy in some ways comes from being blaxploitation - this sort of movie has no illusions about what it is or who its audience is, and can really dive in without the restraint a more mainstream move might show. There's a palpable anger and contempt for its villains, whether they be rich white parasites or the junkies destroying a community from withing, that more mainstream movies just can't easily match.

That go-for-broke nature is one of the best things "Foxy Brown" has going for it, rivaled only by a head-turning, charismatic star. Sometimes that's enough, and this is certainly one of those times.

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originally posted: 06/15/13 13:18:46
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User Comments

4/18/17 action movie fan clumsy editing but good actions scenes make this worth seeing 3 stars
10/10/10 mr.mike The mother of all blaxploitation flicks 5 stars
3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Better then 'Coffy!' 4 stars
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  05-Apr-1974 (R)
  DVD: 09-Jan-2001

  N/A (18)

  N/A (R)

Directed by
  Jack Hill

Written by
  Jack Hill

  Pam Grier
  Antonio Fargas
  Peter Brown
  Terry Carter
  Kathryn Loder
  Harry Holcombe

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