Panther was the first Mario Van Peebles movie I saw after New Jack City. It came out at a weird time when Orion folded and then a litany of other mini studios started dumpster diving on their unreleased films.
Mario ain’t Melvin
Melvin Van Peebles is a hard act to follow. I don’t care that Panther is based on Melvin Van Peebles’ original book. When Mario Van Peebles started directing in the 90s, something happened in that filmmaking dynasty. And, it’s not entirely fair to put the blame on the younger Van Peebles. Things change.
Mario was more of a mainstream director making films of the community. Melvin was making angry statement pictures. Even the rather funny Watermelon Man is quite angry, when looking back on it 50+ years later.
Still, who was making Black Cinema at this level in the 90s?
The answer is the Hughes Brothers. If you want to go super indie, you could also bring up Franklin and Dickerson. Hell, there’s Julie Dash to consider too. But, outside of Spike Lee…no other Black Cinema pioneer was breaking into the mainstream like Mario Van Peebles.
So, why don’t people remember Panther? Honestly, you can chalk it up to the beginning of the end of mature themes in cinema. But, that’s a story for another time.
What is on the Blu-ray?
The Panther Blu-ray comes with a trailer and reversible artwork as the special features. I mention the artwork because there are a ton of collectors that really enjoy it. The A/V Quality is fairly typical for a low budget film from the mid 90s. Everything is pretty soft, but at least the LPCM 2.0 Stereo track is true to the source material.