South African Blaxploitation Films

What is Blaxploitation? Blaxploitation was a term coined in the early 1970’s to refer to a sub-genre of black cinema, which incorporated the culture of Black people in America and worldwide. Although initially popular, it quickly disintegrated as a film genre criticized for stereotypical characterization and glorification of violence.

In retrospect, Blaxploitation and the legacy it left behind have been acknowledged as a positive contribution to African and African-American film history. Blaxploitation films such as Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss song [1971], Coffy [1973], and Dolemite [1975] proved that black actors possessed a strong box-office appeal, and despite the fact that many of the films were written, directed and produced by white people, black audiences finally saw the recognition that African and African-American actors, directors and writers deserved, and fought for, since the early days of silent film. The following South African films, restored by Retro Afrika Bioscope, depict the essence of Blaxploitation.

Umbango (The Feud) [1986]

When Kay Kay, a powerful, ruthless businessman sets out on a mission of revenge against two men accused of killing his brother, he strong-arms the local sheriff into forming a posse of thugs to aid in his vendetta. But when Jet and Owen, the two easy going friends, learn of the gang out for their blood, they prepare to stand their ground and fight back. It all comes to a head in a final gunfight, a showdown in the small western town where blood will have to be split if the friends wish to come out of this alive.

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Umbango (The Feud) [1986]

Bullet On The Run [1982]

Bullet is back, and this time he will have to put his reputation on the line as he goes deep undercover in prison to unfold the mystery of a police corruption ring, being run by one of the most wanted mob bosses in the country, a man known only as Snake.

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Bullet On The Run [1982]

When looking at Blaxploitation films, we can see a historical cultural significance that comes from a time and place which transcends into the universal truths of freedom, expression, and community. Despite some of the controversy that these films created, it opened the doors to talented African-Americans, ultimately proving to its audience that they could thrive in film. Thus, their achievements speak for themselves.

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