[VIDEO REVIEWS] 'Shaft' and 'The Family Man' Doing GoodNew video releases include "Shaft," "The Family Man," "Passion of Mind," "Road Trip" and "Sunset Strip." Reviewed here are two of the blockbusters － "Shaft," a summer action, and "The Family Man," a winter romance.
Directed by John Singleton. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Christian Bale, Vanessa L. Williams, Jeffrey Wright and Busta Rhymes.
Samuel L. Jackson is the king of cool and shines once again in a remake of the 1971 "blaxploitation" film under the same title. Wright's smoldering performance as bad guy Peoples Hernadez and the talents of Bale and Rhymes are particularly noteworthy.
The modern day John Shaft (Jackson) is a detective and lady's man. Shaft arrests Walter Wade (Bale) for a racially motivated murder, but when the only witness, Diane Palmieri (Toni Collette), disappears, Wade easily makes bail and flees to Europe.
Two years later, Shaft nabs Wade as he tries to sneak back into New York City. Once jailed, Wade meets drug lord Hernadez, who also has a vendetta against Shaft. The two develop an uneasy alliance with Wade hiring Hernadez to find and kill Palmieri.
When Wade is again released on bail, Shaft quits the force in disgust and vows to take Wade down. The search for Diane intensifies and the body count rises.
Jackson is dressed to kill in his Armani wardrobe and quips one liners such as "It's my duty to serve that booty," but as a character he is not as complex as the original. "Shaft" is slick and entertaining, but does not quite live up to the politically incorrect, anti-establishment attitude of the original.
THE FAMILY MAN (2000)
Directed by Brett Ratner. Starring Nicholas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven and Amber Valletta.
Everyone has one life to live, and one chance to live it right. For Jack Campbell (Cage), life could not be more grand. He is a Wall Street tycoon with the penthouse and car to match his monied, bachelor lifestyle.
A random act of kindness on his part leads to a conversation with an "angel" during which Campbell says "I have everything I've ever wanted." Later that night he falls asleep in his posh condominium, but wakes up in a parallel universe － a life that might have been.
Thirteen years ago, he left behind his college sweetheart Kate and flew to London for an internship at a bank. She pleads for him to stay, and although Campbell reassures her that their love will survive, inevitably they go their separate ways.
When Campbell wakes up after the encounter with the angel, Kate is in bed next to him. He is a tire salesman, married with two kids, drives a mini van, bowls and owns a house in New Jersey.
Horrified with this cliche of American middle class life, Campbell tries to return to New York City and his prior life. But he is stuck in the current situation and forced to evaluate the values of his former life and whether or not he made the right choices.
"The Family Man" attempts to be a modern day version of "It's a Wonderful Life," but lacks the sincerity of Frank Capra's vision. Not exactly a timeless Christmas classic, but definitely a romance with the right stuff and a lot surprisingly sweet moments.
by Joe Yong-hee