7 Classic Blaxploitation Movies That Are Still Relevant To This Day – Black Girl Nerds


It is undeniable that the years 1971 Tree and Baadassss song by Sweet Sweetback, both released within months of each other, were actually a first step towards the rise of the Blaxploitation genre – a film genre that catered to African American audiences. However, the genre which was undoubtedly meant to entertain its target audience and pique various political issues of the time only succeeded in polarizing the African American community of the time.

Some believed that these films promoted black empowerment and broke down racial barriers and prejudice, while others believed that these releases negatively fueled white prejudice against African Americans. Now, well over four decades later, those movies are a part of film history, though some of them still have pretty sharp teeth that dig deep into the societal ills we face to this day. Here are the seven classic Blaxploitation movies that are still relevant to this day:

I’ll Fuck You Sucka – 1988

I will make you suck was Keenen Ivory Wayans’ feature debut, an homage to the 1970s Blaxploitation genre, which also starred cast stalwarts Bernie Casey, Isaac Hayes, Jim Brown and Ja’net DuBois. It mainly consisted of various direct homages to Blaxploitation Gems from a bygone era, like Tree and super fly, while superimposing humor and all-purpose gags.

The story revolves around Jack Spade’s return to “Any Ghetto, USA”, only to find his brother dead from a gold chain overdose. He seeks revenge against Mr. Big, a white criminal boss who sells gold chains on the streets. In this wacky satire of 1970s blaxploitation movies, Spade learns he must take matters into his own hands to find true justice.

The Last Dragon — 1985

1985 the last dragon is a mixture of kung fu, blaxploitation and funk culture. The film is about a young New York City martial artist who has trained tirelessly to reach the same level of skill as Bruce Lee, but also has to deal with a self-proclaimed neighborhood bully and the Shogun of Harlem.

The film was produced by Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, which is actually reflected in the film’s narrative; although ostensibly centered on martial arts, the film’s main purpose was to promote Motown artists and sell records. The film contains martial arts violence but very little blood, lots of sexual innuendo, and no shortage of African American and Asian stereotypes. It is quite possibly the first and only African-American martial arts musical ever made.

Foxy Brown – 1974

Foxy Brown, originally conceived as a sequel to 1973 Coffyfollows Pam Grier as Foxy Brown, a woman-turned-vigilante who seeks revenge on the mobsters who brutally murdered her boyfriend. Grier shone as Brown just as much as she did in her other Blaxploitation roles due to her incredible acting skills, which portray her character as both tough and sensitive.

The film was originally to be called Burn, Coffy, burn! in which a “one-chick squad” uses all manner of tools and means to draw blood, including fists, knives, guns, and even an airplane propeller. Pam Grier’s performance in crafty brown led Tarantino to write the eponymous role of Jackie Brown specifically for her.

However, this film has been studied and analyzed by academics for years; Cleopatra Jones starred the statuesque Tamara Dobson in the eponymous role, portraying a new kind of African-American female presence in mainstream American cinematography. The film’s attitudes toward race, gender, and feminism are claimed to exemplify the motion picture industry’s progress toward gender equality, which is reflected in the protagonist’s relationship with her lover, Reuben Masters.

Dobson was a funk goddess in the film, but she also insisted on not making her sexuality a focus of the film and deliberately avoided nude scenes to separate herself from the hypersexuality of other African-American heroines of the time. . The film also highlighted the need for the black community to work together to defeat white supremacy.

Super Fly — 1972

super fly is a classic cinematic story of man versus “man”, in which Ron O’Neal plays Priest, a cocaine dealer from Harlem with a fancy apartment, two girlfriends and lots of money. However, he flees the mob, clashes with the powers that be, and only wants out of the business by striking a deal big enough to retire.

The film actually has a surprisingly political bite, as it depicts the hopeless hopelessness of life in a ghetto, where apparent independence from the criminal enterprise is actually just another form of slavery. The film isn’t exactly a morality tale, though it paints the drug trade as a doomed business, but rather a pointing finger at a society that has allowed said trade to emerge as the most promising venture for urban African-American youth in America. .

Tree — 1971

Tree was one of the highest rated films of the 70s, receiving a lot of positive feedback and becoming an integral part of the cultural lexicon ever since. It was the first film to feature an African American character as a private detective and also the first major studio release with an African American hero.

It was released at a time when black leads were rare, so including such a powerful hero was uplifting for the African-American community. Even though some of his tropes haven’t really aged well or have been, and still could be, considered exploitative, Tree is one of the finest cinematic masterpieces of the genre and a highly motivating cinematic experience at the time. The fact that there have been several restarts of Tree testifies to the cultural significance of the film.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasss Song – 1971

Baadasss song by Sweet Sweetback is often considered the ancestor of the entire Blaxploitation film genre. The narrative notably features powerful political themes like police aggression and the degradation of African American women into sex objects, while still managing to be a fairly entertaining piece of cinematic history.

The film’s protagonist, Sweetback, played by Melvin Van Peebles himself, was born and raised in a brothel, where black “performers” were watched by white patrons – a portrayal reminiscent of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Additionally, the scene depicting police brutality that caused the antagonist to seek retaliation is representative of a serious problem that still exists today.

The film is still relevant due to its political bite and the fact that Hollywood used the character of Sweetback as a prototype for a Blaxploitation hero in cinematography.

Final Thoughts

Despite the Blaxploitation genre’s lower budget and production values, some of the themes that these films explored are still relevant, which is why we’ve chosen the aforementioned titles. That said, the genre itself was, and still is, very successful – alphabetically, you’ll hit 100 titles by the time you hit movies starting with the letter “D”.


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