Mustafa Shakir may appear to be a fresh face with his work on the new Netflix series, Cowboy Bebop, but he’s been around the block. Starting out in a single episode on the Fox TV show, New York Undercover back in 1996, before venturing off into small roles in movies like Shaft, Shakir seems to be hitting his stride lately with his role as Jet Black on Cowboy Bebop.
The 45-year-old actor actually once auditioned for roles in Black Panther and Black Lightning, but missed out on both. Fortunately, though, he landed a gig on Season 2 of Luke Cage and has been steadily moving along ever since. He's scheduled to be in the upcoming movies Hide and Seek and Emancipation, but that may be a ways off. So, here are some movies and TV shows to hold you over if you’re a fan of the Cowboy Bebop actor.
Luke Cage (Netflix)
Starring Mike Colter, Alfre Woodard, Rosario Dawson, and even the future Blade, Mahershala Ali, Luke Cage featured an all-star cast of prominent actors of color in the now (sadly) cancelled Netflix series. The story centers around Powerman himself, Luke Cage, who, with his skin that's impervious to weapons, has to take on the bad guys and look cool doing it. This series would later spill into the other Marvel Netflix series, The Defenders. You can watch that, too.
Why it's worth watching if you like Mustafa Shakir: If you want to see Mustafa Shakir (And, of course you do, because why else would you be here?) then you’ll only find him in Season 2 of Luke Cage, as he played John “Bushmaster” McIver (Or, “Bushmasta,” as Mustafa Shakir pronounces it with the character’s Jamaican accent). If you think Jet Black is cool on Cowboy Bebop, then you’ll want to see Shakir tear it up as the ruthless and unstoppable Bushmaster, who can take just as many bullets as our titular hero. His arc is really cool, too, and he’s the kind of bad guy you love to hate.
The Night Of (HBO Max)
In this somber HBO miniseries, Riz Ahmed, who won an Emmy for his performance, plays a Pakistani-American man named Nasir who may or may not have murdered a woman. What follows is Nasir’s stay in Riker’s Island and how everybody around him has to deal with the consequences (including his parents), while he awaits trial.
Why it's worth watching if you like Mustafa Shakir: The Night Of is really a team effort as it features an outstanding cast, including John Tuturro, Michael K. Williams, Jeannie Berlin, and Glenne Headly. Mustafa Shakir plays a brief, but resonant character, as Victor, who’s one of the Riker’s Island inmates. His actions cause a tragic outcome, which ratchets up the tension substantially for the short time that he’s in the series.
Based on the Quarry novels by Max Allan Collins, which actually spans 16 books at the time of this writing, the Quarry TV series is about a Marine, played by Logan Marshall-Green, who returns from Vietnam and doesn’t receive a hero’s welcome. After a while, he gets tempted into killing around a quarry in Memphis. It ran for eight episodes back in 2016, but, unfortunately, didn’t receive a second season.
Why it's worth watching if you like Mustafa Shakir: In that one season, Shakir plays Moses, a black man in the South during a tumultuous time in American history. He is under the employ of a mysterious man known as The Broker, who is played by Peter Mullan. Shakir portrays a nice guy at face value, but there always seems to be more beneath the surface, which Shakir performs deftly.
Brawl In Cell Block 99
Do you want to see people get punched? A lot? Then you need to see Brawl in Cell Block 99, which stars Vince Vaughn as a real sumbitch. Long story short, Vince Vaughn’s character, who is a drug mule, ends up in jail, and a lot of fisticuffs ensue. Vaughn is actually really excellent in this movie, which is directed by S. Craig Zahler, who also did the superb Bone Tomahawk. If you ever doubted that Vince Vaughn could actually act, then look no further than this film.
Why it's worth watching if you like Mustafa Shakir: But, you’re here for Shakir. And while he doesn’t play a super major role as Andre, a prison guard, you do get to see him push Vince Vaughn’s character’s buttons a little bit, and even see them fight in a particularly brutal scene.
The Cavern (Amazon Prime)
You know how there are times when two movies with similar plots or motifs come out in the exact same year? Volcano and Dante’s Peak. Deep Impact and Armageddon. The Illusionist and The Prestige? Well, in 2005, we got both The Cavern and The Descent, and I would be lying to you if I told you that The Cavern was the better movie. But! I still think that you should watch it! Set in Kazakhstan, a crew of cavers descend into a cave and are haunted by a ghost of sorts, and a monster. Terror (Not really) ensues.
Why it's worth watching if you like Mustafa Shakir: This is a really early Mustafa Shakir film, and he plays a caver named Gannon (I’m serious). If you’re a fan of the man’s work, you should definitely check out The Cavern to see how far he’s come. The Cavern is Shakir’s Leprechaun. It’s his Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, or his Jaws 4: The Revenge. In other words, it’s the pre-requisite horror movie that a major actor did early on in his or her career before they got better roles. And, thankfully, it’s better than two out of three of those aforementioned pictures (I have a soft spot for Leprechaun), so that’s at least saying something.
Let Them Die Like Lovers (Amazon Prime)
Lastly is the short (16 minutes short) film by up-and-coming director, Jesse Atlas, Let Them Die Like Lovers. Starring Angela Lewis, Bradley Fisher, and of course, Mustafa Shakir, this bare-bones sci-fi thriller packs a wallop, as it’s about a soldier who body hops in order to kill her targets. But, she soon finds that it’s both physically and emotionally draining. Maybe even too draining. Get out the hankies for this one.
Why it's worth watching if you like Mustafa Shakir: Though his time is brief, Shakur plays the man sending his lover into said bodies, and you can see the emotional toll in his facial expressions. It’s a small role, and he’s not the lead, but it’s a potent one.
Mustafa Shakir seems to have his eyes set on the future, and I couldn’t be more excited. If you want to learn more about Cowboy Bebop or other 2021 Netflix series, make sure to swing by here often.
Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.
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