Author: Zak Stoltz and Mandla Gobledale
Buckle up all you jive muthafuckas, ’cause “Black Dynamite” is about to take you on a ride to the past like Doc Brown. Destination? The funky land of 1970s blaxploitation.
Scott Sanders directs this laugh out loud blaxploitation parody with what must have been a giant grin on his face. “Black Dynamite” screams 1970s in both form and content.
The film stock looks like it was pulled out of a closet that hadn’t been opened in 30 years and the camera movements are intentionally unpolished and dated. If you didn’t know any better, you would think the film really was made in the 1970s. The dialogue is campy but hilarious, the costumes are wild and retro and Michael Jai White as the title character is DYNAMITE!
The plot revolves around Vietnam Vet and ex-CIA killing machine, Black Dynamite (BD), in the search for his brother’s killer. But staying true to it’s blaxploitation roots, the plot thickens and BD discovers that his brother’s death was a part of a sinister plot that only he, through excessive kung fu, can put an end to.
The film starts out relatively serious, much of the humor being derived from the genre-based gags, but towards the end, the story takes a turn toward the absurd, and you can’t help but giggle at the goofiness of the situations. BD’s background is nothing but riotous as the audience finds out he has a tender spot for orphan kids addicted to smack because he “was once an orphan” and the worst part about selling drugs to them is that “orphans don’t have parents!”
Acting in “Black Dynamite” is bad in a good way. Each and every character goes over the top with their performances, and there are even a couple of scenes where the bad acting is showcased for added humor. Michael Jai White encapsulates the blaxploitation hero perfectly. He’s super cool, but has strong emotions and brings the pain like the RA on duty when it’s hammer time. He’s a womanizer, but respectful, apologizing when his pimp slaps cross the line.
“Black Dynamite” has a wide range of humor, and though some of it is low-brow, most of it is actually quite clever. The film satirically handles the archetypal ladies’ man by keeping it real, but still keeping it very funny.
In a scene where BD comes across two kids who claim that their unknown fathers were both named Black Dynamite in front of his new lady friend, he responds with an awkward “Um, a lot of cats have that name.”
The music follows the action perfectly and almost a little overzealously throughout. Almost every entrance by BD is accompanied by his theme song busting out with a single, soulful “DYNAMITE!” Every action scene has music that starts and stops perfectly around the action on screen; and with every move, whether it is a roundhouse kick to the chest, a punch to the face, or nunchacku (there’s lots of nunchacku), there is some sort of sound effect reminiscent of every kung fu movie ever made in the ’70s. The exaggerated music is also used quite effectively as a comedic device, making something as simple as a bullet casing being tossed laugh-worthy.
Mandla: For clever laughs and gags (keep an eye out for the boom mic) “Black Dynamite” blows up the spot, mixing everything from the invention of Roscoe’s Chicken And Waffles with kung fu, car explosions, hot women, jive-ass turkeys, honkeys and “Little Richards.” It’s a sidesplitting 84 minutes.
Zak: I think it’s safe to say “Black Dynamite” is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. It probably helps that I understood some of the more obscure genre jokes, but even so, I wasn’t the only one in the theater laughing out loud consistently. Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, and Scott Sanders are a great writing trio, and from start to finish, they made this film the right way. I probably won’t see it in theaters again, but I’m definitely getting it once it comes out on DVD.
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