The film opens with a credit sequence depicting Shaft, a private detective, emerging from the New York City subway and walking through Times Square, with scenes characterizing early 1970s New York. Shaft visits a shoeshine parlor, and is informed that some gangsters are looking for him. Police Lt. Vic Androzzi meets Shaft outside the parlor; and tries to get information from him on the two gangsters, but without any success. After Lt. Androzzi leaves, Shaft spots one of the men waiting for him in his office building. He command’s the first gangster, forcing him into his office where the second gangster is waiting. After a quick fight, Shaft throws one of them out the window; while the other surrenders and reveals to him that Bumpy, the leader of an uptown gang, wanted to meet Shaft and knock him out at his office.
At the police station, Shaft lies to Lt. Androzzi and his superior about the fight by saying that his friend got into an “accident”. He is allowed to return to the streets for 48 hours. Shaft arranges a meeting with Bumpy, the leader of these gangsters, in his office. It turns out Bumpy’s daughter has been kidnapped, and Shaft is asked to get her back safe. Shaft starts his investigation by looking for a man named Ben Buford, who is revealed to have been part of “the movement” with Shaft years ago, and eventually finds out that Ben’s group is holding a meeting. Shaft then returns home to his girlfriend where they make love.
The evening of the meeting, Shaft is tailed by a fingerman to the meeting where an ambush ensures. Shaft and Ben escape from the carnage while Ben’s group and the fingerman are murdered by unknown assailants. Ben confronts Shaft, thinking he was set up, but they refrain from fighting and move on.
Shaft is told by Vic after the shooting that Shaft himself was the target, not Ben, and that there are brewing tensions between the “uptown” hoods belonging to Bumpy Jonas and the “downtown” Mafioso, that have culminated in a couple of murders. Vic states those who know, know it’s “hood against hood” on the inside, but the perception is black against white to the general public, with the possibility of things escalating into full-blown race war on the streets of the city. He also shows Shaft some pictures of two of the Mafioso men who just got to New York. Vic pleads to Shaft to just clue him in to what’s going on, though Vic already knew Bumpy was looking for Shaft.
Shaft and Ben later meet Bumpy at his uptown office where Shaft ups the price for the job, based on his new-found information from Vic. Bumpy states that the reason for turning him on to Ben’s is because Shaft is going to need an army to get his daughter back, and “Ben’s got one,” he claims. After negotiations with Bumpy on a new price, they both leave his office.
Shaft retires to the “No Name Bar”, across the street from Shaft’s apartment in Greenwich Village. In the bar, he notices two men there who look like the Mafiosi from the pictures Vic showed him, having some drinks while looking at Shaft’s apartment window. Shaft takes over the bar from the bartender, and calls the cops without the two Mafiosi knowing. As the cops arrive to arrest the two men, one of them spits on Shaft’s face to which he responds by breaking a bottle of scotch over the man’s head.
After spending the night with one of the ladies from the bar, Shaft visits Vic and the two mafiaso the following morning. When Shaft returns home, he wakes the woman up, and as she leaves his place, she complains about his rotten manners out of bed, leading to a verbal spat that ends quickly.
A few seconds after the woman leaves, Vic comes in echoing the woman’s spat to Shaft. Vic tells Shaft that the room that he was in at the station house was bugged and he is supposed to bring him in for questioning, but instead leaves. Ben and Shaft go to the apartment where Marcy Jonas is being held to make sure she’s alive. Once there, a gunfight ensues during which two hoods get killed and Shaft takes a bullet in the shoulder. At home where Shaft is getting medical attention from a doctor working underground with him (Shaft refuses to go to any hospital because the hospital will notify police about his gunshot wound.), Shaft tells Ben to round up his men and meet him at the hotel where Marcy has been taken, to prepare to get her back. He also calls Bumpy to tell him that his daughter is fine and he is going to need some taxicabs to meet him at the same hotel for the getaway.
Ben’s men all dress as workers at the hotel (cooks, waiters, elevator operators, etc) as to not arouse suspicion. Shaft and one of Ben’s guys go to the roof and get set up to enter from the window of the room where Marcy is being held captive. Shaft’s plan is to cause a distraction with an explosive thrown through the window of Marcy’s room while Ben and his men come down the hall and deal with the Mafia men as they leave their rooms.
The rescue plan is successful. Marcy is spirited out of the hotel into one of the waiting taxicabs; as the others get away in the remaining cabs, Shaft walks to a phone booth to call Vic. Shaft tells him his “case just busted wide open”, to which Vic tells Shaft to close it for him. Shaft tells Vic that he won’t and declares, “I guess you’re gonna have to close it yourself … shitty!” (referring to the earlier spat with his one-night stand when Shaft asked the woman to close the door on the way out, a remark Vic overheard and teases him with), howling in laughter and walking away as the closing credits roll.
Popularity: 5% [?]