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Detroit 9000

By Sean Axmaker

This snappy, cynical cop thriller was marketed as a "blaxploitation" film when released in 1973, but it's really a mixed-cast godson of The French Connection and The Seven Ups set in the racially volatile cauldron of Super70s Detroit. Alex Rocco (Moe Green from The Godfather) stars as a veteran detective on the Detroit police force, a sinus-infected loner who's bitter from constantly being passed over for promotion. Assigned to a political powder keg--the high-profile heist of a black gubernatorial candidate's big money fundraiser--he's paired up with an educated, smart-dressing black hotshot (Hari Rhodes), a fast-rising star in the department. These guys are no Lethal Weapon act; they may earn a grudging mutual respect but never really like or trust one another. The climactic 25-minute chase is edgy and lean and very violent, spiced with big bloody gunshot wounds and victims writhing in tortured death spasms, and the film concludes on an unusually satisfying note of ambiguity and cynicism. Marks went on to direct Friday Foster and J.D.'s Revenge. The title, by the way, refers to the police code for "officer in trouble." Virtually unseen since its premiere, it was rescued by Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder label for a brief theatrical revival and subsequent video release.

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Director: Arthur Marks

Stars: Alex Rocco, Hari Rhodes, Vonetta McGee, Ella Edwards, Scatman Crothers

Released: March 15, 1973

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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