Just about every tough black actor was given the opportunity to create his own blaxploitation hero in the early 70s. Ron O'Neal had SUPERFLY, Richard Roundtree had SHAFT, Fred Williamson had HAMMER and Jim Brown had SLAUGHTER. Although the football player turned thespian had a handful of film roles going back to the mid-60s, SLAUGHTER represents his first real starring vehicle. While not critical favorites by any means, SLAUGHTER and its sequel are action-jammed fun in the typical AIP tradition.
In the first film, Slaughter (Brown) a conceited ex-Green Beret captain is grieved by the news that a bomb killed his parents, due to his father's syndicate ties. When he finds out the details of the killer's flight, he chases the plane, killing one of the passengers while the others escape. At a police station, A. W. Price (Cameron Mitchell) a bigoted federal cop, tells Slaughter that his attack destroyed Syndicate ledgers that the government had trailed for a years, so he offers him a deal instead of arresting him.
With the aid of some feds, Slaughter flies to South America to take on the mob, now controlled by ruthless mobster lieutenant Hoffo (Rip Torn). It's here where we get treated to a lot of James Bond-esque chases and shootouts, and probably due to the controversy of Brown's appearance in 100 RIFLES, Slaughter gets to make love to slinky Stella Stevens--once Hoffo's girl.
In SLAUGHTER'S BIG RIP-OFF, Slaughter relocates in Los Angeles after having wiped out the South American mob operations. At a lavish out-door party, a bi-plane swoops low and a machine gunner tries to kill him. Slaughter is injured, but his best pal is killed. Slaughter realizes that the syndicate is still in business, and that he has been marked for death. This time he makes a deal with a black detective (Brock Peters) to obtain a list of individuals on the take.
The head of the syndicate, Duncan, is played by Ed McMahon (!) who looks ridiculous with unruly hair parted down the middle, oversized sunglasses and beer belly. Slaughter enlists a greasy coke-snorting pimp to break into Duncan's house with him. After killing a dozen or so guards, they manage to escape with the list. But Duncan's tough main man Kirk (played by AIP regular Don Stroud) is after Slaughter and the list, and he does this by kidnapping his lady (Gloria Hendry).
Both SLAUGHTER and SLAUGHTER'S BIG RIP-OFF (the latter directed by a man who made "Little Rascals" shorts in the 30s!) offer high paced thrills, with the stone-faced Brown pulling off the role of an indestructible hero who easily guns down or beats up the bad guys without a struggle (only in the second film is he in any real danger, but it's brief). Rip Torn and Don Stroud are great in their similar villain roles, with Torn effortlessly shooting the head of the mob for his own career's sake, and Stroud pouring airplane glue in a dying pimp's mouth or drowning an unbilled Adam Roarke with an inflatable life saver!
Both films were shot in the Todd-AO 35 ratio, and that widescreen (2.35:1) glory is thankfully present on these great new transfers. Both films look great except for inevitable grain in the dark scenes, leading to some artifacting (more so on the first disc). The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound is excellent, and is available in English or French with removable Spanish or French subtitles. Luckily, the second film restores the original James Brown soundtrack that was missing from earlier home video editions and cable airings. Also included on each is the trailer. (George R. Reis)
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