The original SUPERFLY (1972) was excoriated in certain circles as the glamorization of a conscienceless huckster. This sequel, the filmmakers' attempt to address that criticism, is, at best, a noble failure.
Youngblood Priest (Ron O'Neal) is living a carefree yet restless life in Rome with his girlfriend Georgia (Sheila Frazier). When he is approached by Dr. Lamine Sonko (Roscoe Lee Browne), emissary from a small African country, to smuggle some guns into the beleaguered nation in exchange for raw
diamonds, Priest refuses. But after visiting the country, he changes his mind and arranges to fly the weapons to a remote African landing strip. There he is captured by the white rulers and tortured, but manages to escape and return to freedom.
In changing the milieu from the inner city and expanding Priest's goals from personal gain and escape to a crusade for the greater good, the film jettisons everything that made SUPERFLY so entertaining. It begins with images as remote from the prequel as possible; rather than the gritty streets of
Harlem, we see a convoy of trucks crossing the African plains (the cast list includes "Elements of the Senegalese Armed Forces"); ambushed by white troops, the freedom-fighters are slaughtered, their weapons seized. Juxtaposed with this, Priest is cruising in his Lamborghini past Roman landmarks.
He's still dressing in pimp finery and snorting from his crucifix coke-spoon, but is now suffering an identity crisis. Sonko first meets him at Priest's weekly high-stakes poker game with other wealthy Europeans, then again after a riding lesson with Priest garbed in a jockey outfit--a
not-so-subtle allusion to the image of countless lawn ornaments. Expanding on a situation in the first film, Priest turns down the request to help his "brothers" (he's retired, he explains---no more deals), but this time Sonko gets under his skin (as it were), accusing him of being society's slave
and not realizing it. Priest reacts by getting drunk, telling Georgia he has to leave (he's always running away, she replies), and flying to Africa where a montage of happy natives going about their business somehow politicizes him.
Despite being scripted by no less than Alex Haley (author of the bestselling Roots, 1977)--from a story by O'Neal and producer Sig Shore--the film seems underwritten, an early draft in need of fleshing out. Unlike the dubious moral atmosphere of SUPERFLY, everything here is reduced to simplistic
black and white--sometimes literally. Caucasians in the film are--to a man--cruel and untrustworthy, while blacks are oppressed yet heroic. And while that's hardly an unfamiliar blaxploitation scenario, the didactic philosophizing and muddled plotting make for shallow social criticism and
unsatisfying entertainment. Robert Guillaume as Jordan Gaines wanders briefly into the story with his white girlfriend to ask Priest about the black American's current plight and to sing a decidedly out-of-place operatic song in Italian, leading one to believe he's supposed to represent the
effetely Anglicized black--the antithesis of Sonko--but the concept is never developed and his character simply wanders back out of the film again. Later, after being photographed with Sonko, Priest chases down the paparazzo who snapped the picture and engages in a knife fight for no reason
whatsoever, except perhaps to inject a moment of action into the draggy expository part of the film.
Replacing Curtis Mayfield's urban music is an effectively exotic score by Osibisa, consisting of driving rhythms and dominant organ, with occasional stinging lead guitar. Ron O'Neal is once again eerily convincing as the stoned, sniffling, self-confident druggie; less so as a conflicted and
ultimately self-sacrificing hero. His direction is similarly more assured in the earlier sections, although weak attempts at comedy break the mood, as do shots of actors addressing the camera while emoting or fighting. Whereas the entire gun-running finale is so poorly conceived and confusingly
executed that the abrupt ending comes as welcome relief. T.N.T., we're told, stands for "T'aint nothin' to it." It's a sadly apt title. (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1973
- Rating: R
- Review: The original SUPERFLY (1972) was excoriated in certain circles as the glamorization of a conscienceless huckster. This sequel, the filmmakers' attempt to address that criticism, is, at best, a noble failure. Youngblood Priest (Ron O'Neal) is living a care… (more)