Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 24th, 2015
BluRay released: April 20th, 2015
Approximate running times: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £15.99
Coffy was written and directed by Jack Hill, who had previously worked with Pam Grier on three other occasions, The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage and Foxy Brown. Other notable films that he directed include Spider Baby and Switchblade Sisters. A key collaborator on Coffy was cinematographer Paul Lohmann whose other notable films include, Nashville, High Anxiety, Time After Time and Looker.
Structurally the film follows your basic revenge themed scenario. The premise is simple and straight forward, Coffy seeks revenge against those who were responsible for her sister’s death. The tone of the film rough and ready and in your face. Also when it comes to depiction of violence, this film’s has not lost any of its brutality. With one of its signature moments being a scene where Coffy shoots a man in the head at point blank range. And reportedly this film’s total body count is ten.
From a production stand point the visuals are on point and they do a superb job reflecting the world that is being depicted onscreen. Another area where this film excels is how the visuals capture the essence of this film’s protagonist. And though she proves time and again that she is more than willing to get her hands dirty. When the dusts settles the visuals always make sure that the protagonist looks great and this is what makes her ability to get one over on those she is taking down all the more believable.
Performance wise the rest of the cast are mere pawns in this game of chess the revolves around this film’s queen Pam Grier who turns in an extraordinary performance that easily ranks as on the most memorable to emerge from the Blaxploitation film cycle. The cast features several recognizable faces like Sid Haig (Spider Baby, The Devil’s Reject’s), Allan Arbus (Greasers Palace) and Lyndia Hayes (Rolling Thunder).
By the time that Pam Grier was cast in the role of Coffy, there had yet to be Blaxploitation film that featured a strong female character lead that carried a film. This all boys club included Richard Roundtree in the role of Shaft, Ron O’Neal in the role of Youngblood Priest the protagonist from Superfly and the most synonymous name with the genre Fred Williamson who had already starred in the following films, The Legend of Nigger Charley, Hammer and Black Caesar. Ultimately with Coffy Grier proved that she could not only hold her own against her male counterparts and then some!
Coffy comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate and details look crisp throughout. And though there is a marked improved in regards to black levels with this release when compared to previous home video releases, it is still an area that leaves room for improvement as some of the film’s darker moments lack the same clarity that is representative throughout the bulk of this film’s transfer. Also there appears to be no noticeable manipulation of the image as in softening of the image due to edge enhancement, grain structure looks intact and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix English. There no issues with background noise or distortion. The source used for this release is in great shape as dialog is always clear and easy to follow. Also everything sounds balanced and range wise things sound very good as sound effects and the film’s score sounds appropriately robust throughout. Also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include an image gallery, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 1 second – 1080 progressive widescreen), three featurettes, the first one titled ‘A Taste of Coffy’ an interview with screenwriter / director Jack Hill (18 minutes 49 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), the second one titled ‘The Baddest Chick in Town! An interview with actress Pam Grier’ (17 minutes 38 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) and the third one titled ‘Blaxploitation! A video essay by author Mikel J. Koven’ (28 minutes 56 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) who provides a detailed and insightful overview of the Blaxploitation genre.
Topics in the interview with Jack Hill include, how he became involved in the making of Coffy, the screenplay, he also talks about key moments in the film and famous lines of dialog, casting Pam Grier and his thoughts on her performance, working with AIP, audience reaction to the film, how the film was a box office hit and how said success also pigeon holed him as a filmmaker and his thoughts on the film’s that he made with Pam Grier.
Topics discussed in the interview with Pam Grier include, how the rawness of the film reflected the reality that was around her, the required nudity and the violent tone of Coffy and Foxy Brown, working with Jack Hill and Roger Corman and she reflects on her career as a whole.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty four booklet with cast & crew credits, two essays, the first essay titled ‘Coffy’ written by Cullen Gallagher and the second essay titled ‘Pam Grier’ written by Yvonne D. Sims and information about this films transfer. Overall Coffy gets a first rate release from Arrow Video.