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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Blaxploitation Review: Adios Amigo

There’s nothing especially exploitative about Adios Amigos. There's nothing that really makes it a Blaxploitation movie other than its time period, stars and (perhaps) its budget. More importantly, there's nothing that makes it worth watching.

A few frames into the movie I had to stop the film and make sure that it was a genuine copy of the film. I’m still not convinced. The opening scenes are so unfocused and scattered it’s hard to imagine that anyone could intentionally make a film that looks like Adios Amigos. The opening establishes nothing. The viewer does not get a rough idea of what the setting looks like nor does one get a rough idea of what Fred Williamson, the titular amigo, looks like. You don’t really need it; every one knows who The Hammer is. It’s the reason people tuned into the film in the first place. Still, it would have been nice to have some kind of visual cue about the protagonist and the setting. Instead the film offers a painting of Williamson and his costar Richard Pryor on horseback while the theme song plays. That’s the only real introduction we get.

Realistically, what could I expect from a film that took nine days to shoot and was made from a script of 12 pages? A lot is made of the differences between the film industry of "then and now", but can you imagine a film like this being made in this millennium. Let’s take Will Ferrell’s Casa de Mi Padre as an example. There are some nice crossovers here: A comedy star, minority stars, a western-ish setting and a ridiculous premise. To be clear the premise of either story isn’t ridiculous, but rather the premise that such films should be made, the very idea that Ferrell or Pryor would agree to be in these films is absurd. Well Ferrell’s film cost 6 million dollars to make and it took a little more than three weeks to shoot. It also had a real screenplay. Even something hokey and ridiculous like Casa de Mi Padre was elaborately planned and it was made with a decent budget. That being said, it was still awful. In that sense Adios Amigo is the superior film. It's a worse movie, but it cost less to make and involved much less planning to churn out an inferior product.

What makes Adios Amigo so bad isn’t its lack of a plot. The film is really nothing more than a series of loosely connected vignettes in which Richard Pryor double crosses Fred Williamson for no apparent reason. The vignettes are broken up by the theme song which contains the title of the film. The fact that the film lacks a coherent plot would be forgivable if the vignettes were funny, but they’re not. They’re boring. They have absolutely zero shine and there’s not a single moment that elicits an audible laugh or a giggle or even a smirk. Even in the tried and true farmer-with-buxom-daughters trope, the movie falls short.

Richard Pryor was one of the funniest Americans who ever lived, so it’s kind of crazy to see him lay such an egg when he was in the middle of his prime. Imagine Eddie Murphy making a movie this bad in the 80s; even if you don’t like Golden Child, Eddie is still funny in the movie. Somehow this movie managed to make Richard Pryor not funny. That’s crazy.

Anyway, you can skip this movie as it adds nothing to the careers of Pryor and Williamson nor does it add much to the Blaxploitation genre. If I were a completely different person I'd close this review with a pun about saying goodbye to the film. It's the kind of humor that this film deserves, but I won't do it. You'll have to fill in the blank by yourself.

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