Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sweet Jesus, Preacherman

Sweet Jesus, Preacher man (1973)
Dir:Henning Schellerup (The Black Bunch/ The Black Alley Cats)
Starring: Roger E. Moseley (Leadbelly/The Mack/Hit man/Magnum P.I.)
William Smith (Hell Comes To Frogtown/Conan The Barbarian/Boss Nigger)
Merla Gibbs (Black Belt Jones/The Jefferson's/227)

I cannot stress how much I needed this film tonight, After the last two stinkers I have reviewed for Blaxploitation History month This was no pun intended a Saving Grace.
 Sweet Jesus Preacher Man is a refreshing take on the genre with an original story and Some great characters strewn about. The film focuses on Cyrus Holmes a hit man for hire who is put on by a local mob boss Martelli to take out some people in order to take back his streets and drug game. The film begins with Holmes slaying a few of his targets , First pushing a mans car into on coming traffic causing a deadly collision , then One is zapped by a sabotaged electric fence and the most brutal is when Holmes enters the Hotel room of a gentleman posing as a Pest control worker then dousing the man with pesticide before Lighting him on fire and sending him out of a window high above the street, Down to his death.

After a series of killings showing what Holmes is capable of we learn that the hits were organised by Martelli in order to place Holmes undercover as a Preacher at a local church in order to garner the trust of the neighborhood and find out who is responsible for moving in on Martelli's business. Holmes was raised in a southern baptist church and at first he is hesitant and uneasy about the task but, The word begins to flow from him fluently effortlessly almost immediately. Leading to a really good scene where he holds a sermon and comes to the realization that he is better at this than he thought.

Holmes now posing as Rev. Jason Lee starts to seek information and comes to learn that a few gangs are taking over Martelli's business ventures one being a local pimp/drug pusher Sweet Stick and A gang of thugs run by Eli Stoner who are feuding. As Eli's gang tries to take out Stick,  Rev. Lee sets out to meet the Senator Sam Sills and try to get him in his pocket.

One of Martelli's men takes it upon himself to try and rough up Holmes to get his portion of the money coming in to no success and after that Martelli provides Holmes with a large donation to give the Senator in order to  sway him. As the neighborhood folk protest Senator Sills , The Reverend shows his power over the people by convincing them to vote for him and this wins over the senators trust.At this point Rev. Lee is approached by Eli Stoner's younger brother Eddie who is a political radical and freedom fighter who is out to snuff out Sweet Stick and his boys. He does not trust The Reverend and they part ways. Later Sweet Stick is in fact taken out by Eddie and his boys before Lee can get to him for info which pisses Martelli off and leads them back to square one.

Holmes finds an informant in the form of a bartender at a strip joint who leads him to Eli's Gang and while he attempts to track them down , Shit hits the fan as some children from his church are beaten and then shot and killed by some harassing officers which leads the town into a frenzy, But the smooth talking Reverend manages to do some amazing damage control and even makes the Senator elect look golden in the process.
At this point Martelli wants to know how his plans are coming along and Holmes decides he is going to take over the streets and Martelli's brackets so this of course upsets the mob boss and his goons are sent to take The Rev. out. We get our final showdown in the church where a gunfight and brawl takes place with a few of Martelli's goons set out to finish off Holmes and after disposing f the hired hands The reverend does get shot but we don't see who does it. Although he does survive as Eddie Stoner comes to the rescue and the group drives off leaving this film with sort of an open ending which I was kind of disappointed with.

I must say that apart from the sudden rushed ending this was a tremendously entertaining film and Moseley is great in the role of Cyrus Holmes/ Rev. Jason Lee he really seems like a cold blooded killer in the opening moments and he is truly convincing in the role of the preacher with all the talk and mannerisms down pact. Some of the story is kind of just thrown together but there is allot going on in this film and it works for the most part and keeps you interested in what is happening. The acting is what you would expect from this type of film but Moseley does shine and I am surprised he didn't get more  "Ghetto" Hero roles after this film, I could easily see him in a Truck Turner or Shaft style film as the lead . This film is a bit different then your traditional Blaxploitation Flick of Black Hero takes out the evil Whitey tradition as most of the cast is completely African American with the exception of the police , Senator and Mob Boss. I really did enjoy this one and as I said I needed a good one after the last few let downs. This one is definitely worth checking out if you can find it , as it is not one of the more common or spoke of films of the genre and honestly I cannot see why? Plus the music in this one is awesome as well, this film really stands strong on it's own and should be greater appreciated, If you are a fan of the genre and want something a little different than the normal Shaft or Super Fly types this one is definitely worth seeking out.
Ass-Kickin' : 6 ( Pretty standard but good stuff especially the opening assassinations work really well to set the pace.)
Jive:6 ( While in the Rev.Lee Role the dialog really shines through and the entire character really just screams bad ass)
Funk: 6 ( Nice soundtrack although there are only a few songs featured they are all good especially Sweet Sticks theme)
Playa's and Whitey's : 6 ( Pretty standard fair with the exception of the Holmes/Lee character which really stands out)
Ass And Tittay's: 4 ( Not too much nudity in this one but really wasn't necessary to keep eyes on the screen)
Overall in the Funk-O-Tron: 6 out of 10

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