[Screen It]


(2000) (Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Wright) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Moderate Extreme Moderate Extreme
Mild None Moderate Mild Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Moderate Mild Moderate Extreme

Drama/Action: An impulsive, but slick inner city cop quits the force to become a private detective and must then deal with a variety of criminals while trying to find a key witness to a murder.
John Shaft (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) is a slick, no-nonsense detective for the NYPD who's arrived at a crime scene where Trey Howard (MEKHI PHIFER) is lying on the street, severely injured. Canvassing the area for witnesses, Shaft enters a bar where the frightened looking bartender, Diane Palmieri (TONI COLLETTE), indicates to Shaft that Walter Wade Jr. (CHRISTIAN BALE) is the perpetrator.

Wade, the cocky adult son of a wealthy real estate tycoon, doesn't deny the act and being a racist, seems to enjoy seeing Trey die on the spot. Enraged at this attitude, Shaft punches the suspect several times and is immediately removed from the force. Things get worse when Wade jumps bail and then taunts Shaft from his European hideaway.

Two years later, Shaft is working narcotics with fellow cops Carmen Vasquez (VANESSA WILLIAMS), Jack Roselli (DAN HEDAYA) and Jimmy Groves (RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON), when they come across a local drug lord, Peoples Hernandez (JEFFREY WRIGHT). When the thug touches Shaft, the cop arrests him, just as he does with Wade whom he recaptures on a tip that the suspect was arriving back in the city.

When Wade is allowed to post bail once more, Shaft abruptly quits the force and joins his uncle, John Shaft (RICHARD ROUNDTREE), as a private detective. First, however, he needs to bust Wade and thus must find Diane, since she's the key witness. She's also extremely reluctant and repeatedly tries to elude Shaft.

As the former cop tries to resolve the issue with the occasional aid of Rasaan (BUSTA RHYMES), a streetwise informant who owes him some favors, Shaft must content with Diane's reluctance, some corrupt cops, and Wade's hiring of Peoples and his gang to find and kill her before she can testify.

Those who are fans of someone in the cast might want to see it, but it's doubtful that many kids will be familiar with the original 1971 film, its sequels or the subsequent TV series based on them.
For strong violence and language.
  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON plays a former cop turned private detective who essentially becomes a vigilante and kills many bad guys (as a civilian) while trying to find a key witness to a murder. He also uses extreme profanity.
  • VANESSA WILLIAMS plays his current/former partner who helps him and often ignores his criminal behavior. She uses some strong profanity.
  • JEFFREY WRIGHT plays a local and charismatic drug lord who's in cahoots with all sorts of corrupt people, smokes, uses strong profanity and agrees to murder a witness for money.
  • CHRISTIAN BALE plays a racist and arrogant son of a real estate tycoon who murders a man, jumps bail and then tries to find and kill the key witness to his crime. He also uses strong profanity.
  • BUSTA RHYMES plays a streetwise informant who assists Shaft and uses strong profanity.
  • DAN HEDAYA and RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON play two cops who turn out to be corrupt and try to kill people.
  • TONI COLLETTE plays a waitress who witnessed the homicidal act and then flees from and tries to avoid both the police and thugs looking for her.
  • RICHARD ROUNDTREE plays Shaft's uncle, a private detective and ladies man who smokes cigars.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R rated drama/action film. Profanity is rated as extreme due to at least 120 uses of the "f" word, along with plenty of other profanities and colorful phrases. Violence is also rated as extreme due to a large number of people being shot and killed (often with bloody results), as well as other lethal, non-lethal and threatening behavior. Some viewers may find some of those scenes to be unsettling or suspenseful.

    All of the criminals obviously have bad attitudes (including some racist ones), while the protagonist quits being a cop (where he used excess force) and becomes a civilian vigilante, shooting and killing many people (albeit criminals and thugs). An opening credits sequence shows what look like brief glimpses of a woman's bare breasts as well as some sensual caressing, and later, Shaft and a woman briefly exchange some non-graphic, but presumably sexually related dialogue. Beyond that, some smoking and drinking occurs and we briefly see some women packaging drugs for the head villain.

    Should this summary not answer your concerns about the film's content and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home who wishes to see it, you may want to take a closer look at our more detailed content listings for specific examples of what occurs in the film.

  • People have beer/drinks in a bar, including Wade who has a beer.
  • Rasaan has what looks like a beer in front of him.
  • People have drinks in a bar and during a party for Shaft (he has a beer while others have wine/champagne).
  • We briefly see some young women packaging drugs for Peoples.
  • We see a wounded and bloody man lying on the street with a small pool of blood beside his head.
  • Shaft sees that Wade has some blood on his hands and Diane some on her face (from the victim).
  • Wade has some blood from his nose after Shaft punches him.
  • A thug's mouth is bloody after Shaft repeatedly hits him.
  • We see a contorted body on the street (dead from a fall) with some blood from the mouth and nose and a small ice pick in the chest (with some blood on the surrounding clothing).
  • While talking with Wade, Peoples sits on a toilet (we only see him from the chest up but do hear his excrement plop into the water).
  • Blood squirts out when a man is shot and we see some blood smear on a wall after another man is shot and then slides down the wall. Blood squirts out onto a window when another person is shot and Peoples has some blood on his shirt (from someone else).
  • Wade's hand is a little bloody after a small ice pick is driven into/through it.
  • In a flashback, we see more blood on the first victim and on Wade's hands that then smear some of it on Diane's face.
  • Peoples threatens Diane with a small ice pick and we then see him slightly jab it several times into her neck (with some blood flowing).
  • We see some bloody bullet holes in a person's clothing after they've been shot and then see some blood flowing out on the cement behind the body.
  • Wade, Peoples and all of those helping and/or working for them have bad attitudes, as both are murderous criminals (with Wade also being a racist - we see a scene of him telling the black victim that a bar doesn't serve malt liquor, etc.).
  • Shaft uses excess force as a cop and then becomes a civilian vigilante who threatens and kills many people (all criminals or thugs), and other cops, including Carmen, let him get away with that.
  • A cop on the force is racist.
  • Some other cops turn out to be corrupt, work with the bad guys and try to kill several people.
  • Another criminal threatens and then hits Wade in a jail holding cell.
  • We see a woman with a black eye (thus implying that her man hit her).
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" (especially the gun battles) may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • Handguns/Machine gun/Shotgun/Small ice pick/Metal pipe: Used to threaten, wound or kill many people.
  • Phrases: "F*ck you," "Hurry the f*ck up," "I'm going to f*ck you up," "Shut the f*ck up," "You knock-off wearing m*therf*cker," "Who the f*ck is that?" "You've got to be sh*tting me," "D*ckhead," "Pissed off," "Bastard," "Piss me off," "Ass-whupin'," "Nigger" (said by black characters), "Bitch" (for women and men), "Punk ass," "Cracker" (for white person), "Shut up" and "Broad" (woman).
  • Wade gives his father "the finger."
  • Wade steals a bunch of valuable jewelry from his father's home to use in hiring a thug to have someone killed.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful and 1970s style action-oriented music plays during the film.
  • In the theme song, there's the line, "Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks?" as well as 2 uses of "damn." Beyond that, some rap songs play in the background of scenes, but the lyrics could not be understood.
  • At least 120 "f" words (39 used with "mother"), 35 "s" words, 3 slang terms using male genitals ("d*ck" and "pr*ck"), 1 slang term for female genitals ("p*ssy"), 17 asses (5 used with "hole"), 6 damns, 4 hells, 2 S.O.B.s, 8 uses of "G-damn," and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • During the opening credits, there are brief, partial and artistic shots/fleeting images of Shaft and a woman and it appears that we see brief images of her bare breasts as well as close-ups of some caressing of various body parts (but nothing else that's explicit).
  • Shaft briefly, but passionately kisses a woman in a bar, causing Uncle Shaft to tell the woman to take it easy on him. He then adds that the "boy's going to poke a hole in something."
  • A woman at a party shows cleavage.
  • A female bartender asks Shaft if he wants to come home with her that night. He says that it's been a while and then asks if she just wants to be held or wants the "LD." She suggestively replies that she wants the "LD" and then to be held. He then states, "It's my duty to please that booty" (we never know exactly what the LD stands for).
  • We see some young women in their bras/bikini tops (inside a room).
  • Peoples smokes several times, Uncle shaft twice smokes a cigar, Diane smokes once as does the initial victim and some miscellaneous/background characters also smoke.
  • Wade is upset that his father gave his trophy wife his former wife's jewelry.
  • A mother is upset over her son's murder (we see her at several of the hearings).
  • Peoples' brother is shot and killed.
  • The fact that Shaft becomes a civilian vigilante who threatens and kills many people (all criminals or thugs) and the police let him get away with it.
  • We see a wounded and bloody man lying on the street with a small pool of blood beside his head. He later convulses and then dies and we then see various flashbacks of the violent act (Wade hitting him on the head with a metal pole).
  • Tired of Wade's attitude after being arrested, Shaft twice punches him.
  • On a drug bust, Shaft and others race into an apartment with their guns drawn.
  • Someone throws a trashcan at Shaft and others throw smaller objects at him (to let a criminal get away), but they stop when Shaft aims his gun at them. Shaft then continues chasing the thug, who knocks some women aside while fleeing and then fires several shots at Shaft. The man then runs and dives through a window, across an alley and then through another window in the adjacent building. Nonetheless, Shaft eventually catches and punches him.
  • Shaft throws a basketball and hits Peoples with it.
  • We see that Rasaan has bound and gagged a limo driver (but don't see the actual act) (so that Shaft can nab Wade when he returns to the city).
  • Another criminal threatens and then backhands Wade in a jail holding cell. In turn, Wade punches this guy in the groin and face and then stomps down on his head with his foot.
  • Shaft flings his police badge so hard that it sticks in the wall behind a judge's head.
  • Told by a mother that a local thug is corrupting her young son, Shaft goes over to the hoodlum and repeatedly hits him on the head/face with his gun (while occasionally aiming it at the thug's buddies to keep them at bay).
  • Several cars crash into each other as Diane flees from Shaft.
  • We see a man falling from a window (after Peoples throws him from it - not seen), and then see his body on the street, bloody and with a small ice pick in his chest.
  • Diane's large brothers come out to confront Shaft and Carmen, but those two hold their guns on the men and nothing else happens.
  • Wade punches a man several times until another man holds a gun on him. One of those men then hits Wade.
  • Two corrupt cops and Peoples and his thugs all hold their guns on each other (with Peoples also threatening one of the cops with a small ice pick). A thug then approaches a man they believe to be Shaft, but this decoy then holds his gun on that thug.
  • Shaft shoots and kills or wounds at least six people while rescuing Diane.
  • Diane's brothers drive up and hit Peoples with their car (only slightly injuring him). Peoples then stabs one of those brothers (but only injures him), while the other brother tries attacking Shaft in a car.
  • Wade punches one of Peoples' thugs, but another hits him in the crotch. Peoples then grabs Wade, pushes him through a plate glass window, pins him to a bench and then pushes a small ice pick into/through Wade's hand (not graphically seen).
  • In a flashback, Wade pushes Diane back against a wall and grabs her by the head, threatening her.
  • Thinking she's not wearing a bulletproof vest (she is), a bad cop shoots Carmen in the chest.
  • Peoples and his men show up where Shaft is holding Diane. As such, Shaft shoots (and wounds or kills) many of them during a prolonged gun battle (involving handguns and machine guns). Carmen then shoots several bad cops and Shaft continues shooting bad guys (with a handgun and shotgun).
  • The bad guys shoot at Shaft and others in a car, with Shaft returning fire at them (with both cars being riddled by bullets). During this (with more exchanged gunfire), cars crash into each other, with the bad guys' car eventually crashing.
  • Peoples threatens Diane with a small ice pick and we then see him slightly jab it several times into her neck (with some blood flowing). He then throws her to the ground.
  • Shaft shoots a man dead.
  • A woman shoots a man dead.
  • We see a woman with a black eye (thus implying that her man hit her).

  • Reviewed June 13, 2000 / Posted June 16, 2000

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [The Batman] [Cyrano] [Studio 666] [The Cursed] [Dog] [Uncharted]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2022 Screen It, Inc.