'Sheba, Baby (Special Edition)' [Blu-Ray+DVD]
(Pam Grier, D'Urville Martin, Austin Stoker, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray+DVD / NR / (1975) 2016 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Sheba Shayne (Pam Grier) returns to her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky to help her father. A proud businessman, he refuses to be intimidated by thugs attempting to run him out of business. While Sheba looks for the men (and the organization) supporting the thugs, she also finds a sinister motive behind their actions. Sheba's former flame Brick (Austin Stoker) adds some muscle to her mission.
Blu ray Verdict: OMG! What an incredible, simply INCREDIBLE find to now put out remastered and in HD on Blu-Ray! Pam Grier's final blaxploitation picture (she appeared in three classics in 1975 (the other two were 'Bucktown' and 'Friday Foster'), 'Sheba, Baby' is not only renowned for being an incredible entity in the whole blaxploitation franchise/era, but one of cult filmmaker William Girdler's (The Manitou, Abby) highest recommendations for viewing, in general.
Grier plays Sheba Shayne, a private eye based in Chicago who is called to her hometown to stop the local mob boss (played by that bad D'Urville Martin;, Black Caesar, Dolemite) from moving in on her father's loan business. Aided by her father's partner, Brick Williams (Austin Stoker, Assault on Precinct 13, Battle for the Planet of the Apes), Sheba finds out that the violent thugs aren't going go away with a fight. Car bombs, gun fights and boat chases ensue whilst armed with her curves, street smarts and a .44, Sheba is in for a bloodbath!
Grier is as tough as ever here and she really turns in another winning performance. What always amazes me about her is how much fire and energy you can see her burning even if she's just standing around not doing a thing. Then, when it's time to fight, that energy just erupts like a volcano and one can't help but respect that energy she brings to a film.
The supporting players include Rudy Challenger, Austin Stoker and Dick Merrifield but there's no doubt that the film belongs to Grier. On a personal side note, having lived in Louisville for many years, the film gave me even more entertainment than it probably will from someone who has never visited the city. There were several locations that I recognized and that's always going to add a little bit more charm to a film for someone.
And as where blaxploitation pictures went overboard, putting it politely, luckily for all us Grier fans 'Sheba, Baby' does manage to keep at least one foot firmly planted in reality. Well, ok, sure, there are quite a few over the top scenes re: violence and sure, ok, I was a little surprised to see more blood than usual, but overall it isn't that kind of flick, honestly! Of course, being a blaxploitation picture we've got to end the film with a wild chase and shoot out and that doesn't disappoint here either. Oh, and seeing Grier in a wetsuit never hurts either!
Grier was at the top of her game and genre in these years, with the Los Angeles Times calling her "... cool, tough and glamorous - a female fantasy Wonder Woman", which just about sums the woman up perfectly! Back then, those classy words, and many, many others only further cemented her status as the first female action star and when you watch 'Sheba, Baby' yourself, I think you'll only be able to wholeheartedly agree. This is both a Standard Presentation and a HD version enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary with producer-screenwriter David Sheldon, moderated by critic Nathaniel Thompson
Sheldon: Baby - a brand new interview with David Sheldon
Pam Grier: The AIP Years - a look over the wonder years of the Blaxploitation queen with film historian Chris Poggiali
Gallery featuring rare publicity images and Lobby Cards
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
Booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Patty Breen, webmaster of WilliamGirdler.com, illustrated with archive stills and posters
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations