The Mack

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In the world of pimpin’ hoes, Goldie (Max Julien) is the best of the lot, but before he was released from prison, he was small time. Once he had served his time however, he hit the streets with a vengeance and became the smoothest pimp alive. He has all the hottest ladies, plus a street-wise pal Slim (Richard Pryor) and his muscle Olinga (Roger E. Mosley), which means no matter what the situation, Goldie can handle it with ease. He even plans to take out the drug pushers and no good pimps, making the streets safer for everyone, especially his ladies and of course, that means increased profits as well. But not everyone sees Goldie’s actions as solid gold, including a mean crime boss and some cops on the take. These men want to send Goldie back to the small time league, so they can prey upon the streets and keep all the cash themselves. Goldie is tough enough and smart enough to overcome these rough dudes, but when tragedy strikes, he’s forced to think twice about his lifestyle…

Think you have what it takes to be an elite pimp? Then step up and prepare to be bitchslapped, as The Mack has arrived. This slice of blaxpIoitation tries to show us the “ins & outs” of the pimp business, with memorable results. Yes, the budget limits are obvious, the acting is less than stellar, and the writing is often haphazard, but despite all these flaws, The Mack is still a fun, very cool motion picture. The focus on drugs, crime, and sex will also offend some, but this is a 1970s blaxploitation movie, so those elements are expected. Max Julien gives a solid effort as The Mack himself, while the supporting cast is acceptable, though often humorous for all the wrong reasons. I should note that while Richard Pryor is given high billing, his on screen time is minimal, so don’t expect to see him much here. I have to give a lot of credit to New Line here, as this Platinum Series release is top notch in all respects. The Mack is recommended to fans of blaxploitation and 1970s cinema, as New Line has given this genre classic the treatment it deserves.

He might not have been a name player then or now, but without question, Max Julien was the perfect choice to portray The Mack. He has the look, the attitude, and the persona of The Mack, which is crucial here, to be sure. Julien is able to handle the light moments very well, especially humorous scenes and such, but to be honest, his skills aren’t suited as well when more dramatic efforts are needed. Yes, he plays those sequences to solid ends and never comes up too short, but you can tell he struggled with the more emotional material. Even so, Julien’s performance is fun to watch and in the realm of blaxploitation cinema, I think its a great one and one of the more influential turns, without a doubt. Other films with Julien include The Black Klansman, Getting Straight, The Savage Seven, and Psych-Out! The cast also includes Richard Pryor (The Toy, Stir Crazy), Carol Speed (The Big Bird Cage, Disco Godfather), and Roger E. Mosley (The New Centurions, The Other Side of Hell).

Video: How does it look?

The Mack is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As this was a low budget picture made in 1973, we can’t expect a pristine presentation here, though New Line has come through with a nice overall treatment. The print looks much better than expected, with minimal nicks & debris to report, though grain is an issue at times. But that’s to be expected and in most scenes, the grain isn’t too much of a hindrance, especially considering the film’s age & budget constraints. The colors are on the dull side, without much saturation to speak, but that’s how this one has always looked, so no reason to be concerned. The contrast is on the same level, as it is solid enough to handle the material, but lacks the refined appearance we’ve come to expect. But given the material involved, I still think this is one fine looking visual effort.

Audio: How does it sound?

I was a little surprised to find The Mack had been given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but New Line didn’t stop there, as they’ve even included a DTS option here. So if nothing else, you have to commend them for the extra effort, as I never imagined anyone (at least outside of Anchor Bay) would give such lush care to a movie like The Mack. But in the end, the limitations of the material keep the results at less than impressive levels. The sound effects come across as thin and forced, while dialogue is clean, but also tinny in texture. I was pleased to find the original mono soundtrack still included, as well as a 2.0 surround track and English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The extras here aren’t impressive in number, but the quality is excellent and more than compensates, to be sure. An audio commentary session starts us off, in which director Michael Campus, producer Harvey Bernhard, star Max Julien, and assorted other cast members speak their mind on The Mack. This is a very candid, revealing track, in which sordid production details are brought out, including some stories involving hard narcotics and famous people, some of whom weren’t even in this movie. I prefer the live sessions to edited interview clips like this track, but with so much good information packed in, I can’t complain too much. Next is Mackin’ Ain’t Easy, a retrospective featurette that clocks in at just under forty minutes, the duration of which is fresh & insightful interviews. A lot of the same participants return from the commentary, but little information is recycled, making this another fountain of behind the scenes knowledge, both of the production and those involved.

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