It's clear that Quentin Tarantino is a huge fan: he cast Grier in the title role of his direct homage Jackie Brown, while the one-woman revenge scenario that fuelled the Kill Bill films didn t just come from the Far East.
When Foxy Brown's undercover-agent boyfriend is gunned down on the orders of evil drug kingpins, she stops at nothing to exact a thrillingly brutal revenge. This is one of the all-time great blaxploitation films, pulling out all the stops at a time long before anyone thought of inventing political correctness.
Pam Grier was given the role of a lifetime as the street-smart yet intensely sexy Foxy, modelling a stupendously varied range of Seventies threads while righteously kicking villainous white butt at every opportunity. She's also given sterling support from Antonio Huggy Bear Fargas as her no-good younger brother and a memorably funky soundtrack.
Arrow Video presents Jack Hill’s Foxy Brown on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer disc. The transfer is delivered in 1080p/24hz. This Blu-ray is locked for Region B.
It’s an exceptional presentation, which I was certainly not expecting. Colours are bold and vivid, coming off far better than the faded video look I recall. Reds and greens look pure, rendered perfectly, and black levels are also fairly deep, but do come off a bit grayish in the opening. Fine details pop off screen, and all objects are cleanly presented with the film’s grain structure remains. I didn’t detect any edge-enhancement, compression noise, or other artifacts.
The print is in decent shape, though still shows some marks scattered about, with a few noticeable scratches and black flecks, which are heaviest during the opening credits. Other than these very minor and very few issues it has been superbly cleaned up. Overall it’s a wonderful surprise, a terrific, filmic delivery.
The lossless linear PCM 2.0 mono track comes off pretty well. It certainly isn’t the most robust track, and lacks much in the way of depth and fidelity, but volume levels are strong, dialogue is clear, and both music and effects come off clean if a bit hollow. There is no noticeable damage or distortion.
Arrow supplies some decent material, starting with an audio commentary by director Jack Hill. I haven’t listened to it but I have a suspicion this is the same track available on the MGM DVD. It’s A rather humourous track as Hill recalls the production, primarily its origins as a sequel to Coffy and how it wound up being the film it would become. He points out many things that initially agitated or disappointed him (though he’s grown fond of these things over time) and shares many anecdotes on how he got past many problems, including budget limitations. It’s a fun, entertaining track, filled with a few surprises. Certainly worth listening to if you haven’t before.
After this is a great 20-minute interview with actor Sid Haig, who recalls his work with Jack Hill, starting with Spider Baby (which Arrow has also released on Blu-ray.) He pretty much walks through a chunk of the films he did, from Pit Stop to The Big Dollhouse to Foxy Brown, while also fondly recalling his friendship with Grier and surprising her when he showed up in a cameo in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. He uses “air quotes” a lot, usually when refers to the films as “classics” or “artsy” but it’s an entertaining and rather charming interview.
A Not So Minor Influence presents a fascinating interview with stunt man Bob Miner, who would go on to become the first African-American member of Stunt Man’s Association. He talks about how he would come to be in the business and how the spike in “Blaxploitation” cinema catapulted his career. He recalls his talk with Jack Hill when it came time to work on Coffy and how his primary goal was to make Pam Grier “look good.” He offers a fascinating account of the era and his work, and it’s hard not be charmed by a man who says “ding-a-ling” when he’s describing a certain climatic scene from Foxy Brown. The interview runs 19-minutes.
Back to Black is a 25-minute featurette on “Blaxploitation” cinema, featuring interviews with some of the heavy weights, including Fred Williamson, Austin Stoker, and Rosanne Katon. It charts the evolution from Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song to the burnout felt by audiences once the movement found its way into James Bond with Live and Let Die. Again it’s an absolutely fascinating look back, especially informative for those that didn’t live it, explaining the importance of these films.
Arrow then includes 20-minutes worth of trailers for films by Jack Hill. The trailers included are: Spider Baby, Pit Stop, The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown, The Swinging Cheerleaders, Switchblade Sisters (which appears to be for Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder rerelease,) and Sorceress. The disc then closes with a small image gallery presenting production photos, poster, and even album art.
The included booklet then includes a great essay on the film by Josiah Howard, and then a reprint of an interview with Pam Grier, which is a great read.
It’s unfortunate Grier couldn’t have been more of a participant but Arrow has still put together a loving collection of supplements, that all prove informative and fascinating.
A superb release from Arrow, the Blu-ray delivers in all departments and comes with a high recommendation! (Again, the disc is locked to Region B and North American viewers will need to use a player capable of playing discs for that region.)