Not a blaxploitation movie at all, this film is a smart, sharp, tough black crime drama that pulls no punches, and because of that is still remarkably fresh today after 30 years. Made in 1972, it features an early performance by Yaphet Kotto as a by the book black police lieutenant who has to work with a crude, unruly white captain-- Anthony Quinn in a very strong performance
They're after some black hoods who slaughtered five men--three whites and two blacks--in a holdup that netted 300 grand. The getaway driver is played by Starsky and Hutch's Antonio Fargas and is just one of the several excellent performances that give this film real power.
Another is turned in by Tony Franciosa playing a Mafia lieutenant who finds out about the hit and, with his henchmen, goes after the hoods. In one of many violent scenes, he finds Fargas' character and slices and dices him in a Harlem whorehouse.
The dialogue here is much more intelligent than in many dumber films and is another reason this is a real winner. When somebody talks--cop, hood, Mafioso, junkie, girlfriend--it's natural, real, uncontrived, and completely credible. You understand who these characters are and you get involved because they're not shooting bull--they're telling it like it is.
The mix of this down to the bone talk and '70s dress and behavior makes this a tremendously entertaining film. The inclusion of violence is not gratuitous at all; it's an integral part of what happens--and what has to happen, given the circumstances.
Highly recommended for fans of crime drama.