Black Dynamite

Black DynamiteUSA, 2009

Director: Scott Sanders
Starring: Michael Jai White, Arsenio Hall, Buddy Lewis, Salli Richardson-Whitfield
IMDB: 7.7

Ever since Tarantino proclaimed his love for old school genre films with 1997's Jackie Brown, and then took it further with Kill Bill and Grindhouse, genre cinema has acquired a kind of retro chic (and bankability) that has brought it into mainstream respectability ... well relatively at least.

For movie lovers tired of the same old politically-correct, censored by consumer panel Hollywood bore-fests this can only be a good thing, because for one it means we get more hilariously twisted films like this.

Perhaps the reason for their popularity is the legitimate excuse it provides to do away with all political-correctness and get back to some good old-fashioned sub-wholesome fun. And that's exactly what we get here with Black Dynamite, a hilariously cheesy throwback to the golden era of 70s blaxploitation - complete with the requisite sexism, racism, macho posturing and kung fu!

Our titular hero, Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White), is a Vietnam vet turned pimp who provides his own unique brand of righteous street justice. Whether ensuring the hookers get paid, or ridding the neighborhood of drugs, he's got a heroic pose and classic one-liner for all occasions.

With his smooth 'fro, manly moustache and funky wardrobe its no wonder that he's a ladies man as well. He even preaches racial equality in his own special way, as seen in the screen shot below. ...

The attention to period detail is awesome ... from the fashion, to the decor and the music - it's all been meticulously crafted. Even the visuals and sound were created using period equipment or faked to resemble it.

And if you keep your eyes open you'll notice many gaffs typical of low-budget amateurish productions - like sound booms coming into view, fleeing criminals getting the car door stuck on the grass verge, or Dynamite himself abruptly changing direction so that the conveniently placed tray of eggs could be knocked over. Of course here the gaffs are entirely intentional.

The story here is a mashup of blaxploitation cliches, and really just a vehicle for the jokes and parody to operate within. In a nutshell, some jive turkey has killed Dynamite's brother and he needs to get to the bottom of a web of intrigue to find out who is responsible. A journey that takes him right to the very top as he discovers a diabolical conspiracy to keep the black brothers down, perpetuated of course by Whitey (aka The Man).

No cheesy 70's parody would be complete without the formulaic love interest, and here it is provided when Dynamite meets Gloria (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) - a sexy, afro-sporting political activist. But will Dynamite be able to coax her into his bedroom ?

While the movie drags slightly in the middle, it is laugh-out-loud funny and guarantees a great time with a bunch of mates and a crate of beer. The production values are excellent, and White's performance as Black Dynamite makes it seem he was born for the role.

Of special note is the superb soundtrack crafted by Adrian Younge that establishes a funky 70s vibe, and even features a few tracks custom written for the movie. Crank it up loud and immerse yourself in the 70's experience!

Black Dynamite is one of the best retro parodies I've seen, and a definite contender for comedy of the year. Can you dig it?

8/10. Highly recommended.

More Screen shots


Ventilation Shaft said...

For me, BD was definitely one of the best films last year. A rare example of a genuinely funny comedy where ever joke delivers. I seriously couldn't find a flaw in it.

My favorite scene has to be one in the diner where they crack the mystery behind Anaconda Malt Liquor. That was hilarious!

BTW, if you haven't already, check out Fred Williamson's Boss Nigger. ;)


Yeah this is a classic, great fun movie. And thanks for the recommendation too, if Boss Nigger is anything like this I'm sure I'll love it.

the jaded viewer said...

One of the best films of 2009.

"Your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrification is only matched by your zest of kung-fu treachery"

So awesome.

Anonymous said...

Well, if I ever become some kind of major criminal boss, I'll sure as hell have my HQ at Kung Fu Island.

Alex said...

Haha nice review! I love the sexy screen cap portraying BD's practice of racial equality. I finally got to see this last week, and I certainly can dig it!

Cyberschizoid said...

I've so gotta see this movie! I love blaxploitation and I love spoofs so this ticks both boxes!

Anonymous said...

This was classic for sure and that Soundtrack brought it all together. They have to do a sequel.The pimps meeting was a nod to Willie Dynamite. The second best pimp movie ever.


Systematicer said...

I have to admit I'm not overly familiar with the blacksploitation genre but I really didn't care for 'Black Dynamite'. I thought that instead of recognizing the genre-specific conventions, limitations and failures and constructing jokes around it 'Black Dynamite' mainly just recognizes them and imitates them in an over-the-top way to make sure that even the most stupid audience member gets that it's done intentionally to make you laugh. Sure, it's adorably cute but is it funny? A few of their observations were attentive enough that the used "over-the-top reenactment" method was enough to provoke amusement.

Given the attention to detail of their recreation but lack of inventive jokes it probably would have been better if instead of a parody they had made a more serious film with subtleties providing the humor and maybe a few GOOD jokes here and there. It's like it is wearing the spoof tag as an excuse not to do anything original. Well, all this would have been decent enough if they had cared to make this feel like a movie instead of a series of skits which provokes the thought that maybe this would have made a better short film.


Well, it's a parody after all - it can't be compared to serious films :) I guess a parallel could be drawn with the Scary Movie franchise in that regard.

Still, for what it is, it was done well - and I found it very enjoyable entertainment.

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