Picks and Pans Review: Shaft

updated 07/03/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/03/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams

A drug dealer is irate at Det. John Shaft (Jackson; see page 81) because the dealer's white, 200-thread-count Egyptian-cotton shirt has been soiled during an altercation. Shaft is unperturbed. "You wouldn't know Egyptian cotton," he tells the slimeball, "if the Pharaoh himself knit it for you."

He's so baaaad. Inspired by the fondly remembered 1971 film of the same title and again featuring the catchy wah-wah strains of Isaac Hayes's theme song, this new Shaft is genial, action-packed junk food. Jackson plays the nephew of the first Shaft (Richard Roundtree, looking fit in a cameo), and he's trying to nail a rich punk (Christian Bale) for a racially motivated murder. The plot is little more than an excuse for Jackson to model Armani's leather line for men, utter hip patter ("Roll, Soul," he orders a pal acting as his chauffeur) and play with guns. Not that it's a fair fight; this is the sort of movie where the bad guys can't shoot straight, while Shaft can't miss. Right on. (R)

Bottom Line: We can dig it

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