Black Gunn (1972)

Genres - Action, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Blaxploitation  |   Release Date - Nov 20, 1972 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This early entry in the blaxploitation genre isn't the best or worst of its type. Like Shaft, it gives plenty of lip service to black power and portrays a black hero sticking it to The Man. Unfortunately, it lacks the compelling lead character and tight plotting of Shaft. Gunn is a bit too arrogant and distant to make a likable hero and he doesn't really get involved in the story line until the film is half over. These problems are enhanced by a middling performance from the usually charismatic Jim Brown, who acquits himself well in the action scenes, but sleepwalks through the rest. Despite these key problems, blaxploitation fans might still enjoy Black Gunn because it delivers the goods in a stylish, unpretentious fashion. Director Robert Hartford-Davis keeps the focus on slam-bang action and his efforts are nicely enhanced by sharp lensing by cinematographer Richard Kline. The film also sports an ace supporting cast, including Martin Landau and Bruce Glover, who attack their over-the-top racist villain characterizations with maximum gusto. Bernie Casey also turns in a convincing performance as a tough-minded activist. In the end, Black Gunn never rises above "programmer" status, but it's got enough punch to be decent time-killing fare for blaxploitation genre completists.