After 39 years of roaming the standard definition-wilderness, Foxy Brown is finally given the chance to strut its stuff in sparkling HD. Certainly, it’s a culture clash of some irony – releasing a film famed for its pulp/trash credentials on a format so at odds with these aforesaid values. But with a restoration approved and supervised by Hill himself, the undisputed ‘meanest chick in town’ has frankly, never looked better. Foxy Brown, though, is much more than just a pretty face – and nearly four decades on, Hill’s blaxploitation classic is as funky, edgy and relevant as ever.
The plot – which sees Foxy Brown (Grier) pose as a prostitute in order to infiltrate the group of drug kingpins responsible for gunning-down her undercover-agent boyfriend – is typical B-movie fluff. Not that it matters – nuanced storytelling was never going to be in Brown‘s makeup or wardrobe, anyway. It is, however, almost impossible not to “dig” all that Hill pulls together. Managing, partly organically, partly by careful orchestration, to mould an aesthetic so vibrant, so impossibly iconic, that Foxy Brown‘s cultural impact begins to tower above even its filmic draw.
This is not to say, however, that Foxy Brown is style over substance. It isn’t. Rather, this is simply a film that exudes both the real and the poetically licensed idiosyncrasies of the 70s with such vigour, it risks momentary imbalance. At least when viewed through a 2013 looking glass. Fortunately, though, Hill never has to look far for the perfect counterweight. Not with Grier in this kind of form.
Grier positively smoulders as titular heroine Foxy. And while Grier is as much tied to Foxy Brown‘s cultural resonance as Willie Hutch‘s score, she is also the pulse, drive and jive of everything within the text – keeping Hill’s film from ever toppling over. Kicking ass – often without stopping to even take names – Grier never ceases to charm and thrill. Spitting out lines, such as “vigilante justice…it’s as American as apple pie”; and “death is too easy for you, bitch! I want you to suffer!” as she tears up the streets in search of justice.
Hill is always “right on” the money, though – squeezing kitsch smiles from almost every set piece. “The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice” Foxy seductively remarks. And Brown gives us the sweetest juice on tap, throughout. But for all the quotable one-liners, the real sweet aftertaste is Grier’s Foxy. Oozing raw sex appeal, charisma and vengeful intent, this is a persona for the ages; not just the 70s. Self-professed Hill fanboy Tarantino paid tribute by casting Grier to star in Jackie Brown. But Foxy’s DNA had long since scattered in all directions. From Thelma and Louise (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) to Lara Croft, Foxy set the bar for sexy, badass leading ladies.
Neither Hill or Hutch miss a beat. But Brown is Grier at her finest. “Don’t touch the fruit, faggot!” Foxy at one point snarls – as hands begin to wander greedily over her breasts. It’s a fitting microcosm. One year shy of its 40th Birthday, Foxy Brown is a timely reminder that the combination of Hill and Grier is still untouchable.