HTF REVIEW: "The Mack" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 20, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Mack

    Studio: New Line Cinema
    Year: 1973
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 110 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)

    Blaxploitation film is a type of film oriented
    to black audiences that developed in the late
    1960s and flourished up through the late 1970s.
    The term "blaxploitation" was first employed
    in the June 12, 1972 issue of New York magazine
    to characterize such films, specifically Superfly
    (1972). These films full of snappy street
    language, outrageous pimp suits, and comic-book-style
    action -- have raged many over whether they are
    valid popular artwork or just demeaning to the black
    race. By 1976 Blaxploitation was beginning to
    flounder. Studio executives started seeing greater
    numbers of blacks at mainstream movies and decided
    that it was no longer necessary to cater specifically
    to that audience. Thus, the craze slowly withered away.
    Perhaps one of the better known blaxploitation
    films of that era is The Mack, an insider's
    glimpse into the world of pimpin', focusing on
    drugs, corruption and street justice of the day.
    As the movie begins, we fund Goldie(Max Julien)
    and his sidekick Slim (Richard Pryor) shooting it
    out with the cops. Goldie's nailed for the incident
    and winds up spending five years in the slammer.
    Once released, the sharp, smooth-talking hustler
    finds himself back on the streets winding up at the
    top of the pimping game.
    Meanwhile, his Brother Olinga (Roger E. Mosley)
    promotes peace and brotherhood within the community,
    vowing to clean the streets of the type of people
    that his brother has become.
    Trouble, however, comes in the form of two corrupt
    white cops and a crime lord who wants him to return
    to the small time. After a tragic ending however,
    Goldie must suddenly re-examine his life.
    While the film is typically another one of those
    awful exploitation films you have come to expect,
    it manages to take a slice of life and presented
    it as realistically as possible. There are some
    interesting moments such as Player's Holiday, a
    weekend full of fun for pimps where they all get
    together for picnic and baseball. If that wasn't
    enough, we get to watch the 'Pimp of the Year' year
    awards where Goldie earns his Mack status.
    How is the transfer?
    Don't expect miracles.
    Though this is probably the best that The Mack
    has ever looked, it still looks and sounds pretty
    awful on DVD.
    It's obvious the film print has been cleaned up,
    but you can't take a low-budget film like this
    and expect miracles -- especially with the way DVD
    magnifies every piece of film impurity.
    In short, the film looks like a dated 70s flick.
    Colors are faded and the film is plagued with a
    rash of film grain. The film lacks any detail
    whatsoever -- especially in the night scenes that
    are just overcome with blackness (no pun intended).
    The 5.1 DTS mix is about as lackluster as the
    film quality, though I was surprised at the few
    times the rear channels supported some nice street
    and crowd effects. Otherwise, the film's soundtrack
    lacks any sort of dynamic range, as the dialogue
    comes across as too "shrill" through the center
    channel, often sounding overmodulated.
    Special Features
    The Mack joins the collection of Platinum
    titles from New Line Cinema. These DVDs
    are known for going the extra mile in providing
    additional content that enhances the film experience.
    This Platimum Series DVD includes a feature-length
    audio commentary by star Max Julien, Director
    Michael Campus, Producer Harvey Bernhard and other
    members of the cast.
    An original documentary, Mackin' Ain't Easy
    reunites the cast and Director for a look back
    at a film that (as Director Michael Campus puts it)
    was a miracle in the making. The film was written
    by Producer Harvey Bernhard who was just fascinated
    of how a guy could possibly control a bitches mind
    (his words -- not mine). Max Julien was given
    complete control of the film, able to bring in the
    people he wanted to be involved with, and even
    more so, able to make a political statement about
    the condition of black people in America. The film
    was largely based on life in 1972 Oakland, a
    volatile community where black people were being
    shot on the street. The filmmakers were inspired
    by the Ward Brothers who ran underground Oakland.
    The rest of this documentary features filmmakers
    and artists who examine this film (as well as others
    like it) and explain why this film is still so
    influential today.
    (length: approx. 38 minutes)
    Final Thoughts
    Certainly, this film is going to appeal to those
    that have an acquired taste in blaxploitation
    cinema. Personally, I sort of enjoyed watching
    The Mack, a film that helped set the tone
    and pave the way for bigger movies like Superfly
    and Shaft. It's also interesting to
    note that there is still much debate as to whether
    blacks are still receiving a fair and honest portrayal
    in movies and television.
    Release Date: September 3, 2002
  2. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

    Jun 6, 2002
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    The Mack is a film. The Mack is now on DVD from New Line. I haven't seen it yet. I just wanted this thread to have SOME sort of reply.
  3. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

    May 24, 2001
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    Does the documentary feature Richard Pryor?

    Regardless, I'll definitely be picking this one up. Good job, Ron!
  4. Tina_H_V

    Tina_H_V Supporting Actor

    Mar 25, 2000
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    Nice going, Ron.

    I plan on being someone who will be picking up this film to add to my collection of blaxploitation films of the era.

    Recently, IFC released a fine documentary on the blaxploitation genre, giving some insight to its origins and its appeal. Very interesting and quite well done was it, IMHO.

    And now, with the coming of The Mack onto DVD, may we also be endowed with Super Fly and the granddaddy of 'em all, Sweet Sweetback's Baaaaadddddd--------- Song, before long.

    And also, I would love to hear what The Mack himself, Max Julien, has to say on his title character 29 years later. Another movie which predated blaxploitation, though not by much, was one Julien was a part of entitled, "Up Tight." Max played a focal character in that one named Johnny Wells, on the run from the Cleveland police in the aftermath of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. (The movie was released in 1969.) Directed by Jules Dassin, the movie had a fine, IMHO, ensemble case including Julien, Raymond St. Jacques, Julian Mayfield (who co-wrote the film), Ruby Dee, Janet MacLaughlin, JiTu Tikumba, John Wesley, Dick Anthony Williams and Roscoe Lee Browne, just to name a seminal few.

    For "Up Tight," Booker T. and The MG's checked in with a very well-done soundtrack, featuring the classic hit single, "Time Is Tight", formatted and extended differently from the version normally heard on pop/soul oldie radio, as well as Booker's first-ever vocal, "Johnny, I Love You", inspired in part by Ray Charles' moving rendition of "In The Heat of the Night."

    Given the attention Paramount has been given to some of its older (and in some cases, classic) films recently, may this one eventually come to pass from their vaults and on out to DVD.
  5. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

    May 24, 2001
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    Tina, my interest in the blaxpoitation genre peaked after watching that documentary last week, as well as by getting to see Foxy Brown and SuperFly in their OARs for the first time! I'd really like to see Sweet Sweetback's now. Hearing Van Peebles talk about that was a blast. Has he done an audio commentary before? That would be a riot!
  6. Marc_Savoie

    Marc_Savoie Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 11, 2002
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    I too will be buying this title. It'll be my first 70s blaxploitation DVD!

    Does any have the MGM "Soul Cinema" series of DVDs? If so, are they worth a casual fans cash for some blind pruchases? Thanks.
  7. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    Man, I totally forgot The Mack was coming out, and with all those extras too?!! I will have to pick this up. Thanks for reviewing this Ron.

    I have the discs of Coffy and Foxy Brown and would recommend both. Coffy is by far the superior movie and is really a flat out good movie in it's own right (not just a good blaxploitation movie); but what makes both discs particularly worth getting (besides the ultra cheap price) is the commentary tracks by director Jack Hill. Both are great tracks about working for AIP and making no budget films in the 70's, competing against Hollywood, Pam Grier, the genre, the ongoing popularity of the films, etc.
  8. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
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    New Line started in the late 60's, "Nightmare On Elm Street" was what made them big though.
  9. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

    Jun 29, 1999
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    Obviously, I'm going to have to own this disc...
  10. DaveCheung

    DaveCheung Agent

    Oct 29, 1999
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    Criterion released Sweetback on LD with Van Peebles commentary. No DVD version is in the works, unfortunately.
  11. Piers C

    Piers C Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 3, 2002
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    Ron - Thanks for the review & screen shots. One small point of clarification, "The Mack" followed "Shaft" ('71) and "Superfly" ('72), so this film did not really "pave the way" in the way that you suggest.
    There's an interesting piece on the film over at DVDTalk by David Walker. He provides great background on how "The Mack" is linked to earlier blackploitian genre films, but also breaks from that model.
  12. Chad Parks

    Chad Parks Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 8, 1999
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    I almost bought it today at BB, but it did NOT say on the package that it was anamorphic, just 'letterboxed'. Now that I know I'm going to have to go back...

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