A question. “Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks?” The correct response, of course, is “Shaft.”
If that question was too esoteric for you, you may be beyond the humor of I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, a new movie that spoofs the wave of “blaxploitation” movies popular in the early 1970s. Sucka is written and directed by Kennen Ivory Wayans, who co-wrote and acted in Robert Townsend’s low-budget hit Hollywood Shuffle.
Wayans obviously grew up on films such as Shaft and Superfly, and he knows just how to send them up. In the opening scene of Sucka, a young black man named Junebug Spade is found dead on the street in “Any Ghetto, U.S.A.” Cause of death: O.G.’d. That’s Over Gold. He was wearing too many gold chains.
When Junebug’s brother Jack (played by Wayans) returns from the Army, he determines to topple the Mr. Big who’s been flooding the ghetto with cheap gold-plated jewelry. But Jack needs help, and he turns to the black heroes of his youth.
One of the movie’s amusing strokes is its deployment of the same actors who starred in those blaxploitation films. Jim Brown, the ex-football great whose acting career included a couple of these films as the character “Slaughter,” here plays a tough guy who comes out of retirement.
Other cast members include Bernie Casey, Isaac Hayes (who won the 1971 Best Song Oscar for composing “Theme from Shaft“), and Antonio Fargas as a procurer who reminisces over the time he won “Pimp of the Year” honors.
Wayans’ film may be a bit tumble-down, but it’s got enough of these wacky asides to keep it chugging along. There are a few running gags that pay off in funny ways, such as Jack’s childhood trauma involving a family of dwarves. And there’s a willingness to wink at the audience; at a bar, a patron wonders about the atrocious girl singer onstage. “She’s the director’s sister,” explains a waitress, as Wayans rolls his eyes sheepishly. If Mel Brooks had set his sights on blaxploitation movies, the results might have looked something like I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.
First published in The Herald, December 1988
This was the wellspring of the Wayans world, as In Living Color came along a couple of years later. The cast is damned impressive, with Steve James, John Vernon, and Clu Gulager in the mix, plus Jester Hairston, Clarence Williams III, Tony Cox, and a young Chris Rock knocking around. And the great John Witherspoon.