Plot: Priest (Ron O’Neal) has risen to immense power on the streets, with an empire of crime that has given him respect, cash, and women all in ample volume, the kind of lifestyle many would kill to possess. Although he seems to have the world on lock, Priest also feels trapped by this lifestyle and more than anything else, he wants to be free and be in control of his own destiny. He might have power and wealth, but he is still held down by those above him and has little choice on how things happen, since he is just one part of the criminal machine. But Priest has decided he is leaving the life, regardless of what he knows all to well, which is that you can’t just walk away from the kind of life he has built. He plans to set up one last score, a deal that is so rich it will allow him to start fresh on his own terms. But can Priest manage to pull off this deal and get away clean, or is he more trapped than even he knows?
Entertainment Value: An iconic installment in the blaxploitation genre, Super Fly has an authentic atmosphere, classic music from Curtis Mayfield, and style to burn, not to mention a great lead performance from Ron O’Neal. The narrative is a little thin, no surprise given the script was only 45 pages, but there’s a capable story in here and some memorable characters. The movie unfolds that story at a deliberate pace, but it never feels slow thanks to some effective use of New York location shots. These are frequent and often extensive, but serve a purpose beyond filler, as the city is like a character in Super Fly, so the environment needs to feel genuine. O’Neal is terrific in the lead and is likable, so you root for him despite his criminal ways, while Julius Harris, Carl Lee, and Sheila Frazier have prominent supporting roles. I also love the fashion of Super Fly, as it is so cool and the production values overall are so stylish, just dripping with 70s vibes. I can see how some might dislike the deliberate pace or find the movie dated or over the top, but I think Super Fly is a lot of fun and has more than earned its status as a classic of blaxploitation.
Priest is a ladies’ man, so he finds himself in some romantic situations and that includes some nakedness. So a couple scenes with bare breasts and naked asses, adding some light sleaze to the fun. The movie has several scenes of violence, but minimal blood is involved and in the case of the fight scenes, the action is more hokey than graphic. The fights are slow and raw in execution, which some will find silly, while others will find a lot to like in the more in the moment style. So some fun action and bursts of violence, but the bloodshed is minor and infrequent. The dialogue is a little stilted at times, but still gives us a lot of bad ass moments and believable exchanges. This includes tough guy talk and some moments certain to offend more sensitive viewers, with verbal insults that are no longer socially acceptable. As for craziness, Super Fly is one of the less over the top, out of control blaxploitation pictures, but it earns a point for some of the more colorful moments that pop up.
Overall Insanity: 1/10