Lee Tergesen plays a
named Luger in this remake
of the 1971 blaxploitation classic.
Samuel L. Jackson plays John
Shaft, nephew of the original's John Shaft (Richard Roundtree, who
has a cameo in this film.)
Of Lee's character, renowned movie critic Roger
Ebert noted: "Always look twice at a cop named Luger."
reviewer examined Lee's part a little more in-depth:
"The movie takes a very unexpected risk
with the character Luger, a bigoted police officer. I thought Luger
was being built up as the prototypical racist cop, but was delighted
when the movie totally subverted my assumptions. Luger is not made
out to be a nice or admirable character, of course, but I found it
interesting that [Screenplay writer Richard] Price chose to
acknowledge a few shades of gray in the midst of the usual
racists-bad black-and-white palette. Lee Tergesen manages to find
just the right balance in the role."
In an August 2001 article in Metal Rules magazine, Lee and the
interviewer played down the "racist-but-helpful"
characterization of Luger. Lee described the part:
"I play Detective Luger. He's in
Shaft's narco squad and initially he and Shaft don't see
eye-to-eye and they lock heads a couple of times. But when it
comes down to it and Shaft needs someone he can trust, he turns
to Luger and in that he begins to see that even although the
differences are there, there are some similarities."
Thanks go to Rose for her help with the following synopsis:
appearance on screen comes about 14 minutes into the movie
as he and a group of cops, including John Shaft, are about to bust into the apartment of a drug dealer. He’s
using some sort of device that requires a hand pump and everyone is
mad at him that he can’t seem to get it done.
But it does
get done (thanks to one of the suspects unwittingly opening the
door). About six minutes and a stunt-packed chase scene later, the cops have
the perps in
handcuffs on the street, ready to load into a police van.
scene is about 5 minutes later, set in the police station. Luger is
hauling in one suspect, who objects to the way Luger is handling
him. Luger shoves him, tells him "Will you shut the f---
up, cornbread." Shaft confronts Luger: "Yo, Luger. What's
up with the cornbread?" Luger asks him what the problem is.
"Nazis with badges, that's my problem," Shaft says. Luger
tells him to lighten up -- a comment Shaft doesn't appreciate. Their
exchange escalates into a very angry confrontation, complete with
threats of ass-kicking.
has a brief appearance when Shaft brings in a rich-boy murder suspect,
Walter Wade Jr. (played by Christian Bale) who
had eluded the police previously. Luger stands with a group of
detectives on a second floor balcony as they applauding Shaft's arrival
with the suspect.
Later, Luger is present in court when
Wade has his bail
hearing. The judge’s lenient decision angers Shaft, and he storms
out of the courthouse. His fellow detectives, including Luger,
follow in his wake,
trying to talk him out of doing something rash. Shaft
unexpectedly pulls his gun when the suspect appears outside.
Shaft quits. Wade jumps bail. Two years later,
Shaft strikes out on his own to find a witness and gather more
evidence for the case against the Wade.
Along the way, he gets help from his former colleagues in the NYPD.
Luger. The last time
Lee appears is about an hour into the movie, when he and
Shaft pull an off-duty, off-the-record "robbery" of their
nemesis. Luger, with a ski
mask over his face, has Wade at gunpoint and hollers: "Freeze
mo-fo, before I bust a cap in your dome!" This convinces Wade
to give up his duffel bag, full of $42,000 in dirty money.
Luger climb into a car, and in this scene, unlike their earlier confrontation,
the two clearly have
respect for each other. In parting, Shaft calls
Luger a cracker
and Luger makes a crack about cornbread, but they both laugh about
it, parting on good terms.