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Sheba, Baby [Blu-ray + DVD]
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HOTTER 'N' COFFY MEANER 'N' FOXY BROWN! Fresh off her career defining roles for Jack Hill in Coffy and Foxy Brown, Pam Grier returned to pure Blaxploitation (after turns in Blaxploitation-horror and action), in cult filmmaker William Girdler's (The Manitou, Abby) 'Sheba, Baby'... Grier plays Sheba Shayne, a private eye based in Chicago who is called to her hometown to stop the local mob boss (played by that bad D'Urville Martin, Black Caesar, Dolemite) from moving in on her father's loan business. Aided by her father's partner, Brick Williams (Austin Stoker, Assault on Precinct 13, Battle for the Planet of the Apes), Sheba finds out that the violent thugs aren't going go away with a fight. Car bombs, gun fights and boat chases ensue whilst armed with her curves, street smarts and a .44, Sheba is in for a bloodbath! Grier would appear in three Blaxploitation classics in 1975 (the others were Bucktown and Friday Foster), where she was at the top of her game and genre, with the Los Angeles Times calling her cool, tough and glamorous - a female fantasy Wonder Woman, further cementing her status as the first female action star.
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As a regular film, it is somewhat of a let down, especially compared to Pam's other works such as Coffy, The Big Bird Cage Women in Cages, The Big Doll House, and Scream Blacula Scream.
No f-bombs, not much in the sex and nudity department.
This Pam Grier film is incredibly tame. It's nowhere near as violent as some of her earlier films. Gone are the over-the-top images of Pam placing a small revolver or razor blades in her afro. Pilot (D'Urville Martin) and his crew can't hold a candle to some of the real villains Pam faced in her previous movies. It's strictly by-the-numbers and almost has a made-for-TV feel. As for the bad acting, the baddies that Pam faces off with are as unnatural sounding in their delivery as I've seen. As a result, characters like Pilot don't come across as threatening as they should or need to for the movie to work.
That's not to say there aren't moments or elements in `Sheba Baby' that I didn't enjoy it's just that when compared with Pam's other films like `Coffy,' `Foxy Brown,' and even `Friday Foster' that the movie fails. It is not one of her best performances, though. Her "avenging angel" persona has been soften quite a bit, so she is forced to rely mostly on her natural charm. Still, I had fun with this film. A bit of a letdown, but definitively worth watching for the sake of curiosity.