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Monday, October 19, 2009


Behold the manly awesomeness that is Black Dynamite! NOTE: this scene is actually in the movie.

Damned near every genre of film has had at least one feature-length parody devoted to it and very few of them are actually any good. In my humble opinion the short list of the best in that department would include YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), BLAZING SADDLES (also 1974, a good year for Mel Brooks) AIRPLANE (1980), TOP SECRET! (1984), OSS 117: CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES (2006), and THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977), and to that list can now be added BLACK DYNAMITE, a film that skewers the particulars of the blacksploitation genre to infinitely greater effect than the similar-minded but mediocre misfire of I'M GONNA GIT YOU, SUCKA (1988). Considering how video tape and DVD opened up the blacksploitation genre to discovery by audiences who would otherwise never have experienced its trashy thrills, I'm amazed that it's taken twenty-one years for anyone to attempt a return to that malt liquor-flavored well of cinematic excess, but I'm glad to say that this time they nailed their subject to the wall and milked it for all it was worth.

The titular hero (Michael Jai White) and his big-assed gun.

BLACK DYNAMITE had a hell of a lot of movies to crib its tropes from but its melanin-rich celluloid DNA can be traced directly back to elements found in THREE THE HARD WAY (1974), BLACK BELT JONES (1974), DOLEMITE (1975), DOLEMITE's far superior and utterly ludicrous sequel THE HUMAN TORNADO (1976), and of course the flick that got the whole thing rolling, 1971's SHAFT. The basic germ of the plot will be familiar to anyone who has even the most cursory of knowledge of the genre: when his undercover CIA operative brother is killed, Viet Nam vet/lethal martial arts expert/former CIA agent Black Dynamite (played to perfection by Michael Jai White, and yes, Black Dynamite is the character's name) takes to the streets and finds himself embroiled in a violent web of drugs, pimps, hot bitches (whom he can pleasure three at a time), black militants, and kung fu mayhem, all of which leads to the discovery of an anti-black conspiracy of epic horrific proportions.

Black Dynamite and the bruthas clean up the streets, muthafukka!

Played more or less straight, BLACK DYNAMITE is a textbook example of how to do this kind of thing right, nailing everything from the genre's stilted, horribly-acted and ultra-profane dialogue right down to the grainy 1970's film stock and questionable "who gives a fuck if the take was screwed up?" editing. In every way, BLACK DYNAMITE is to the genre of its chosen target what YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN was to the old Universal horror movies, and I can think of no higher complement for a parody. I would love to go into the film's seemingly endless playing around with all of the genre's over-the-top tropes, but that would only spoil ninety solid minutes of wall-to-wall hilarity that brings to mind what if National Lampoon during its prime (roughly 1974-1982) had made a blaxploitation spoof. It's politically incorrect to the Nth degree, pulls some truly insane and inspired gags out of its ass, has excellent comedic martial arts sequences, and is simply a pisser from start to finish. Plus we get to witness the birth of Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, an institution in the annals of negro-licious artery-clogging eats, so it's even more of a must see! My dear friend Suzi — NOTE: a white person from California who is aware of Roscoe's and may have been the only snowflake in the audience who got that gag — saw it with me and she has a limited knowledge of blaxploitation, yet she enjoyed the movie immensely and was in as much doubled-over abdominal pain from laughter as I was when we exited the theater, so it even works for the relative novice.

Bottom line: if you dig this kind of thing, and even if you normally don't, give BLACK DYNAMITE a chance and see it in the theater if it's playing near you, preferably with an audience filled with us rowdy and dusky ethnics so you can get the full effect. Maybe even sneak in a few orders of Popeye's chicken and some forties of Olde E to wash it down! HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

Black Dynamite faces off against the Fiendish Dr. Wu (Roger Yuan, the movie's fight choreographer) on Kung Fu Island.

1 comment:

Satyrblade said...

Oh, good! I've seen the trailer a few times at my favorite Seattle indie theatre, and I'm glad to hear that the film itself is worth seeing. The trailer had me in hysterics (puzzling my mate, who has very little background in '70s trashsploitation - I had to play Cliff's Notes for her during Kill Bill and Grindhouse), and yes - on your say-so, I'll support Black Dynamite during its theatrical run.

On the great genre parody film list, I'd add Kung Fu Hustle, Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Team America: World Police, Sukiyaki Western Django and Grindhouse to that list. I know they occupy that weird zone between hommage, satire and ball-out example of the genre in question, but I loved all six of them (well, maybe five out of six - Sukiyaki dragged in too many places for me to truly adore the film, although I found it a hoot verging occasionally on the sublime). Stretching the definition of "parody" a little further, I'd also add Lair of the White Worm, Wild Things, Roadhouse, Evil Dead 2, Return of the Living Dead, Commando and From Dusk Till Dawn. Hell, I'm still waiting on Machete. If Robert Rodriguez actually makes THAT film, I'll stand in line to see the fucker!

Thanks again, Bunche!