After scoring at the box office with Coffy (1973), writer-director Jack Hill and blaxploitation queen Pam Grier delivered more sexed-up crime drama with Foxy Brown, a nasty flick about a woman taking on the mob. Yet while Coffy has force and momentum, Foxy Brown gets mired in a murky storyline. It’s also much more unpleasant than the previous film, thanks to a gruesome sequence in which the heroine is bound, drugged, and repeatedly raped. The storyline gets off to a bad start, because it’s never clear what Foxy does for a living or how she came to know Michael (Terry Carter), her lawman boyfriend. Plus, how does Foxy balance her relationship with a cop and her tight bond with a drug-dealing sibling (Antonio Fargas)? For that matter, when the hell did she learn how to fly a plane? To cut Hill some slack, Foxy Brown apparently began life as a Coffy sequel, and the director was instructed to transform Foxy Brown into a stand-alone film so late in the game that he wasn’t able to properly reconfigure key elements. Notwithstanding these issues, Foxy Brown has built a huge cult audience over the years. Much of the appeal, of course, stems from Grier’s formidable physical presence. She looks fantastic, whether she’s glammed up in a silky wig and evening dress or down-and-dirty in a giant Afro and head-to-toe leather, and she’s a relentless killing machine. The moment when she coils a wire hanger into a claw and gouges out a scumbag’s eye is memorable, as is the bit when she introduces a thug to the business end of a plane’s propeller. Fargas is almost as entertaining as Grier, jive-talking through a campy performance, and Coffy costar Sid Haig shows up briefly to infuse the picture with a welcome burst of nutjob energy. Yet while some elements are watchable, the movie as a whole is distasteful, and the main villain is awful: Every scene featuring the startlingly amateurish Kathryn Loder, as conniving madam Miss Katherine, is excruciating.
Foxy Brown: FUNKY