Shaft in Africa **1/2 (out of 5) (1973)

Cast: Richard Roundtree, Frank Finlay, Vonetta McGee, Neda Armeric

Directed by John Guillermin

LThe final film in the SHAFT trilogy finds our favorite private dick having to travel to Africa to uncover the leader of a modern-day slave ring, whereby poor Africans are smuggled into France to do menial work for literally pennies per day. Posing as an African villager himself, Shaft means to break the case open from the inside, but soon finds that someone has leaked his presence and his life is in danger wherever he goes.

Not as good as previous outings, SHAFT IN AFRICA at least succeeds in still being better than most blaxploitation flicks in that it tries to be different from the rest, with a different locale and original plot. Stirling Silliphant's writing is crisp and plot twists interesting, but little support is given from the static direction of John Guillermin and a supporting cast of near-amateur actors. A terrific score by Johnny Pate, a solid theme song by The Four Tops, and Roundtree's bad-ass believability all help this one maintain it's 70s chic. Die-hard SHAFT fans won't be disappointed, but SHAFT's third time out is far from the landmark cultural phenomenon the original was.

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