Black Dynamite

Director    Scott Sanders
Starring    Michael Jai White, Arsenio Hall, James McManus, Tommy Davidson, Kevin Chapman, Buddy Lewis
Release    16 OCT 2009 (US) 13 AUG (UK)    Certificate 15
3 stars


18th August 2010

Bitches, pimps, kung fu and one bad ass mother have been mixed up with an ample amount of comedy in this satirical look back to blaxploitation movies. Don't worry if you don't know what a blaxploitation movie is; there are enough laughs in Black Dynamite for you regular honkeys to enjoy it too.

Former CIA agent Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) wants to clean up the mess in his town by keeping the orphan kids off smack, stopping the pimps from mistreating their hoes and uncovering the mystery of how the white man is keeping him down. Black Dynamite is your karate kicking, lady-loving, moustached hero, who finds out that the murder of his brother is actually part of complex conspiracy that goes all the way to the White House.

[gallery]Now, I'll admit that a jive turkey like myself doesn't know that much about the '70s movies that this film harks back to. Sure, I've seen Shaft and I am aware of the stylistic features of films of the era, but most of my knowledge of the blaxploitation genre is from clips or as a basis for comedy sketches. Why this film works it that it knows that this is probably the case for most of its audience. Many of the gags play off the ridiculous nature of films Black Dynamite is parodying, whether that is through racial stereotyping, bad scripting or the subtle hints to the shoddy level of production (think over-use of stock footage or actors stepping over lines).

Those who are schooled in the genre will get a lot more out of Black Dynamite. A lot of references will be missed by the casual cinemagoer and, as a result, many of the scenes will appear to go nowhere, causing a few head-scratching moments. Never you worry though, as there are enough well-acted comedic moments from Michael Jai White to keep you entertained and the rest of the cast do a bang-up job of bringing stock characters to life and playing off each other.

Towards the end, Black Dynamite edges from satire to spoof, but it never goes so far in one direction that you feel detached from the silliness. Stick with it and you'll be rewarded with what is, without a doubt, one of the best nunchuk fight sequences ever put on film - not necessarily because of the action, more because one of the participants is a former President of the United States.

Black Dynamite is obviously a labour of love, considering all the playful poking of genre movies no doubt loved by Jai White, who also wrote the film along with director Scott Sanders. The tone is spot-on throughout and real care has been given to the look of the film, both in intentionally ropey cinematography and suspect editing. There is enough for the geeks to smirk at their insider titbits and plenty of moments to tickle those who had to look up how to spell blaxploitation.

Don't expect too much, but Black Dynamite is pleasurable viewing for any of you crackers who fancy a laugh.

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