Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Melvin Van Peebles
Starring: Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales
Rated: R/Region O/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Vinegar Syndrome

Considered to be among the most significant features ever directed by a black filmmaker and included in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, SWEET SWEETBACK is a brutal and shocking story of survival and is credited as the first ‘blaxploitation’ film ever made. Featuring a rousing score from a nascent Earth, Wind, & Fire as well as surrealist tinged visuals from cinematographer Robert Maxwell, Van Peebles creates an unforgettable and immersive study of perseverance in the face of racism. Vinegar Syndrome proudly brings this landmark film to Blu-ray, newly restored in 4K from its original 35mm camera negative.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (that’s a hell of a lot of A’s and S’s there) is a true innovator and groundbreaker for what we like to call Blaxploitation. Everything you see in this film from the fighting against the ways of “the man” to the quick cuts and overall style of this one set the tone for all the other great films in this genre that would follow. Directed by Melvin Van Peebles (Mario’s daddy and yes he’s here too), this movie tells the tale of a black prostitute who is backing women and making whitey pretty upset. Soon he’s on the run and getting help in some odd places, but not before having a lot of sex (some was apparently real) and just doing all sorts of badass stuff from start to finish. I guess our lead was soo badass that it leads to the weird spelling of the title of “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”. All in all, if you are looking for the grandfather of Blaxploitation flicks, this is it!

You’ll see boobs, blood, and even black dingus all before this movie wraps! You’ll also see it in HD thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. They do another great job with this release and what they had to work with to make this Blu-ray happen. If you own their release of such things as Penitentiary, Dolemite, and The Human Tornado, then you’ll want to be sure to get perhaps the Blaxploitation that started it all with this one. Yes, we have some pretty darn weird things going on in this movie (like the opening credits scene), but when all is said and done you get a very innovative film and one that packs a very solid story and transfer here on this release.


– Region free Blu-ray/DVD combo
– Newly scanned and restored in 4k from 35mm original camera negative
– Career interview with Melvin Van Peebles, courtesy of Olumide Productions
– “One Baadasssss Woman!” – an interview with Niva Ruschell (actress)
– Extensive Q&A from the 2013 Black Panther Film Festival at the Maysles Center in Harlem
– “The Real Deal (What it was…is!)” – archival ‘making of’ doc by Melvin Van Peebles
– Historical commentary track with Sergio Mims (assistant director of PENITENTIARY)
– Archival still gallery
– Extensive booklet essay by Travis Crawford
– Limited edition slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr. (2,000 units)
– Reversible cover
– English SDH subtitles

Quality of Transfer: 97%