Saturday, December 05, 2009

BLACK DYNAMITE: The Film Babble Blog Review

BLACK DYNAMITE (Dir. Scott Sanders, 2009)

There have been blaxploitation parodies before, and also many stylistic throwbacks to 70’s cinema, but nothing like this that looks and feels so much like the original artifact that many will mistake it for the real thing. Authenticity is enhanced throughout with grainy saturated film stock, split screen dynamics, and many funk musical cues (every time our smooth hero walks into a room or shows up suddenly his name is sexily sung by a chorus of female soul singers).

That name is “Black Dynamite” (Michael Jai White who also co-wrote with director Sanders) – a Vietnam vet, Martial arts master, and former member of the CIA who’s “badder than SHAFT, SUPER FLY, and THE MACK put together” just as the trailer promised.

The mysterious death of Black Dynamite’s brother leads him into the underbelly of 1972 Los Angeles, where the ghettos are overrun with smack and Anaconda Malt Liquor, and “The Man” is in control. CIA Agent O’Leary (Kevin Chapman) tells the vengeance fueled fighter : “We heard about your brother's death and we don't want you running around turning the streets into rivers of blood.” Black Dynamite responds: “Then tell me who did it and I'll just leave a puddle!” We know, of course, that just a puddle is out of the question; we’ll know him well by the trail of the dead well before the end of this motion picture. It doesn’t stop there though, in the form of cheap ass animation he even beats up, and it some instances blows up, many of the end credits.

To say anymore about the plot, especially to reveal the severe side effect of Anaconda Malt Liquor or who turns out to be the evil mastermind, would be to spoil the fun, and there’s a lot of fun here, so I’ll leave it at that. I laughed more during this movie than any other film this year. It’s a hilarious homage instead of a savage satire but its dead-on attention to detail never lets up and neither do the non-stop laughs.

The amusing aesthetics of actors’ eyes darting to off screen cue cards, visible boom mikes dropping too low into the shot, and not quite timed right edits are much more effective than the fake scratches and bogus missing reels of the more expensive retro exercise GRINDHOUSE, with the mixing in of period footage effectively matching the newly made material. I think we see the same shot of a car driving of a cliff twice but it really doesn’t matter, or it matters absolutely, in the fast pace free for all flow.

There are few familiar faces in BLACK DYNAMITE, but Arsenio Hall, Tommy Davison, Richard Edson, Nicole Sullivan, and Mike Starr all stand out in gloriously stereotyped roles. With its tons of quotable lines, scores of explosive action set pieces, and more jokes per minute than a dozen of current commercial comedies, this has cult film written all over it. That would be nice for the its future, but the film is in limited release right now so it’d be nicer if it got the packed houses it deserves much sooner. The genre may be mostly forgotten by all but die-hard fans and film buffs, but this hysterical yet sturdy tribute brings blaxploitation back with riotous results and should not be missed.

More later...


Anonymous said...

i def. enjoyed this film. it is a classic swept under the rug right now. i'd love to see them do a sequel or something. just when i was thinking mjw may only do fighting films.

Jonman said...

Anaconda Malt Liquor, I love it. I missed Grindhouse when it was in the theater, I'm definitely gonna try to catch this one.