In this, the second chapter of the Super Fly saga, Priest relocates overseas to Europe where he is now retired from hustling and lives in Rome with his girlfriend, Georgia. Although now financially secure, having successfully “run down the fantastic number” in a major drug deal while in New York City, he finds that retired live in Europe isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He suffers from incessant boredom, with gambling in nightly poker games with Italian businessman as his lone source of interest. However, it is at the end of one of these card games that he meets an African dignitary looking for someone to oversee a gun smuggling operation, which a military unit in his country has recently botched.
Apparently struck by Priest’s charismatic appearance (if nothing else), the African official, Dr. Lamine Sonko, tries to encourage him to take the arms smuggling assignment. Initially, Priest is reluctant to do so, and Sonko prevails upon him that as a black man he has a moral duty to aide his African brothers in their time of need. With Sonko’s sermon about international black unity riding his conscience, coupled with his disillusionment with retired living, Priest eventually accepts the job, much to the dismay of his significant other, Georgia, and subsequently boards a plane to Sonko’s African country to embark on the arms smuggling mission.
Ron O’Neal, who stars in the lead role, directed and co-wrote the story line for “Super Fly TNT,” and therein would most likely explain why this movie is such a cinematic atrocity. Although O’Neal’s performance in the original Super Fly movie was the stuff of legend, and he was one of the better actors of the 70s’ Blaxploitation movie era, his direction of this movie, however, is overtly and highly inept. Much of the movie is confusing and vague, with scenes so pointless and tediously elongated that the only positive aspect of it is that the movie viewer can easily empathize with Priest’s ongoing dilemma of being ceaselessly bored.
Interesting enough, Alex Haley wrote the screenplay for “Super Fly TNT.” (Haley of course would go on to become a household name as author of the classic, best-selling novel “Roots,” several years after the release of this movie.) However, the screenplay he wrote for this movie, much like O’Neal’s incompetent movie direction, is listless, providing few, if any, moments of intense drama and intrigue.
Sheila Frazier reprises her role from the original movie as Priest’s loyal, understanding girlfriend. Although a stunningly attractive woman, her acting skills are poor, so much so that her highly unprofessional performance in this movie alone instantly relegates it to B-film status.
As a considerably more polished acting professional, veteran actor Roscoe Lee Browne delivers the movie’s best performance as the eloquent, outspoken Dr. Lamine Sonko, the African official who hires Priest to man his country’s gun smuggling operation. Yet, through no fault of Browne’s of course, you can’t help but wonder why in the world would a high-ranking African dignitary want to tap Priest, a man he barely knew anything about, for such a complicated, crucial paramilitary assignment.
A relatively young Robert Guillaume makes his movie debut in “TNT” as Jordan, a black American writer who befriends Priest in Rome. However, his character in “TNT” is totally insignificant to the movie’s plot, making him the film’s most dispensable character. Yet he does provide one of the very rare moments of interest in the movie by showcasing his operatic singing ability in a scene at an Italian restaurant, an impressive talent that many, myself included, never knew Guillaune possessed.
In stark contrast to Curtis Mayfield’s brilliant musical score from the original movie, which became an instant R&B classic, the musical soundtrack for “TNT,” performed by the Ghanaian musical group Osibisa, is rather disgusting. Unlike Mayfield’s excellent musical score from the original “Super Fly” movie, the African-Caribbean-styled soundtrack for “TNT” is highly inappropriate for the streetwise Priest character and far out of context with his “cool” persona.
The combination of the aforementioned elements–fatuous movie direction, vapid screenplay, and a lame musical soundtrack—makes for one of the most dreadful movie viewing experiences that you will ever have, with a story ending, much like most of the movie itself, so perplexing and vague that it will leave you hangin’ and asking yourself “WTF?” as you watch the credits roll on the screen.
Aptly titled “TNT,” O’Neal, Haley, and Sig Shore (movie producer) collaborate in creating a complete bomb of a movie, a cinematic disaster that will truly indeed blow you away.