Out riding horses with friends in the country, Slaughter (Jim Brown), the ex-Green Beret, black action hero and all-round super-stud with the (let’s face it) ridiculous name, spies a biplane in the sky. The plane promptly swoops down and machineguns his buddies to gory bits. Of course Slaughter knows his friends were innocent casualties and that he was the intended target. Mob boss Mr. Duncan (Ed McMahon) wants Slaughter rubbed out in revenge for his crime-busting activities in the first movie. After Duncan’s initial hitman botches the job, he passes the task to his psychotic protégé Kirk (Don Stroud). Police detective Reynolds (Brock Peters) offers to tell Slaughter who it is that wants him dead provided he breaks into Duncan’s house and steals a list of all the corrupt cops and officials on the mobster’s payroll. So Slaughter enlists the aid of flamboyant pimp Joe Creole (Richard Williams) who, between parading his funky threads like some low-rent Superfly and aiming hilarious tirades at his stable of glamorous hookers, happens to be an expert safecracker.
“I’m Slaughter, baby. The baddest cat that ever walked the Earth”, says our self-deprecating hero at one point. True enough though, the amiable guy seen picnicking with friends in the early scenes soon gives way to the surly killing machine we know and love from the first Slaughter (1972). Opinions differ as to which of the two Slaughter movies produced by exploitation kings American International Pictures is the stronger. Some prefer the scrappily-made but frenetically fun original while others favor this slightly more sober, ball-busting sequel. Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off reunited former pro-football star-turned-blaxploitation icon Jim Brown with former child star with The Little Rascals Gordon Douglas who had directed Brown in his screen debut in Rio Conchos (1964). Douglas’ solid background in both exploitation and mainstream fare yielded the likes of big bug classic Them! (1954) and campy super-spy sequel In Like Flint (1967) though his work here falls in line with his hardboiled Frank Sinatra vehicles: Tony Rome (1967), Lady in Cement (1968) and The Detective (1968).
Armed with a plot even more perfunctory than the first film, Douglas serves up the exploitation ingredients in pedestrian fashion including a disheartening amount of padding with scenes where Slaughter cruises the neon-lit streets, broods in a nightclub and watches ladies shimmy out of their clothes, all set to a sublime score by godfather of soul James Brown. Brown’s laidback grooves match the film’s sedate pace which lacks the urgency of a good grindhouse flick, despite a lively and amusing fight with a screeching karate expert and a suspenseful scene where Kirk forces Slaughter and his girlfriend (Gloria Hendry, as awful here as she was in Live and Let Die (1973)) to drive off a cliff into the sea. Charles Eric Johnson’s screenplay features fantastically florid dialogue and those funky Seventies fashions (with shirts so loud they almost drown out the soundtrack) are worth the price of admission alone. The film sports other notable eccentricities including the casting of famed TV announcer Ed McMahon (genial foil to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show) as a ruthless mobster, an attempt to portray a coke-snorting, hooker-abusing pimp as a sympathetic character (?) and a bizarre scene where Slaughter seems more preoccupied with eavesdropping on Duncan having sex with his moll than helping Joe Creole crack the safe.
Exploitation favourite Judy Brown (a lot of Browns were involved in this movie) provides nudity as a friend of Slaughter’s who trades information in return for a shag, and Scatman Crothers cameos briefly as a wily retired safecracker. There are some who disdain the term blaxploitation in favour of urban action film. Keeping that in mind one can see a clear link between such films and the kind of big-budget schlock action-fests Arnold Schwarzenegger went on to make, especially in the climax wherein the lone hero strides nonchalantly through the villain’s lair and machineguns about a hundred henchmen. The ending packs Slaughter off to Paris but sadly there were no more sequels, so we never got to see him strut around the Champs-Elysees, jive-talking gendarmes, flirting with French girls or bashing Marseilles mobsters into a bloody pulp.