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Director X brings blaxploitation classic ‘Super Fly’ into 2018

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Best known for the music videos he has made for Drake, Jay-Z, and Rihanna, Canada’s Director X — real name Julien Christian Lutz — will debut his first feature this summer, a remake of 1972 blaxploitation classic “Super Fly.” Sony Pictures released the first full-length trailer of his version, “Superfly,” on Friday. “Grown-ish” actor Trevor Jackson assumes the role originated by Ron O’Neal: Youngblood Priest, a cocaine dealer with a knack for martial arts.

Director X shifted the film’s backdrop from Harlem to Atlanta, where shooting commenced this January (in another modernized twist, the protagonist prefers to be paid in cryptocurrency). The trailer opens with Youngblood, a hustler since age 11, prosperous and taking advantage of the city’s glittering nightlife. A wise mentor named Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams, “The Wire”), supportive best friend (Jason Mitchell, “Straight Outta Compton”), and alluring girlfriend (Lex Scott Davis, CBS’ “Training Day”) keep him grounded.

Yet those comforts are disrupted when Youngblood finds himself at the center of a shootout plotted by a menacing new crew, clad head-to-toe in white and sent by a Mexican drug lord. Rather than retreating, Youngblood heads south of the border for a bullet-strewn confrontation, but not before disapproving Scatter turns a gun on him first. Eddie must remind Youngblood, “We black men, there ain’t nowhere safe.”

When re-examining the material of Gordon Parks Jr.’s “Super Fly,” a daunting challenge was living up to Curtis Mayfield’s beloved songs. Director X drafted rapper Future to produce the original soundtrack for his film, penned by “Watchman” co-writer Alex Tse. Prior to introducing “Superfly” at Sony’s CinemaCon presentation last week, the director told Deadline that his take is “light on moral lessons.” “This is an action film,” he continued, an appropriate choice considering Joel Silver, a producer of the “Lethal Weapon” and “The Matrix” series, is onboard.

 

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