Black Dynamite (2009) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Aug/100

Black Dynamite (2009)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny LIKEBlaxploitation, as a cultural relic, is something I feel hardly qualified to comment on. I've seen a few, Shaft, Blackula, Sweet Sweetback's Baadassssss Song, um, Superfly like once. Hell, I think I've seen more documentaries about Blaxploitation than that.

But Blaxploitation spoofs, those I know. Like the spoofs of Plane Nine from Outer Space (I reviewed one just a few weeks back, remember?), Blaxploitation spoofs run with the low-budget charm that the genre possessed while cherishing its themes of black empowerment. Done right, they're funny, smart, and somehow uplifting in their own way.

Black Dynamite swerves a bit, but it's still a highlight of the small genre. The movie stars Michael Jai White as the titular hero, a man who lacks a sensitive constitution and perhaps any constitution at all.

He's lean, he's mean. The movie opens with him making love to three different women. As they coo their admiration, he tells them to shut up. "You'll wake the other bitches up!" he hisses, pointing at two other women snoozing beneath the covers.

He has a full plate. Dynamite practices kung-fu daily, helps collect money for a local brothel, and is soon embroiled in the city's problem with smack and a dangerous brand of malt liquor. He lashes back with a ferocity that's over the top in glorious ways, and there's oftentimes that his laughing starts to take on a deranged tone.

The jokes in this movie run the range from goofy to subtle, from Dynamite's rhyming of pick-up lines to the chase scene that becomes a game of who can be more showy. The verbal jokes are related by White with a delightful bluntness that show an actor playing an actor who can't act.

So I guess I'm going to have to be the man who compares Black Dynamite with the instantly forgotten Undercover Brother. Brother stars Eddie Griffin. Brother, instead of being an outright parody that tried to mimic the limitations of the genre, played as an homage. The two styles are light and day, but both are still a amusing in how they revel in this perceived point in black cinema.

Both are fantastic, though Brother lacks a dull patch that Dynamite has towards the middle. You can't fault Dynamite there, though-- when a movie strives to top itself there every few minutes, any time it fails, it skids. I would recommend getting through it, since the movie does a great job of topping everything it previously topped.

Dynamite is an explosion and kung-fu filled movie with enough winks and nods that shows a group of filmmakers with a lot of fondness for bad fun and wordplay. That it ends in the White House with a call to arms (and an assist from both Honest Abe and Pat Nixon) takes it beyond the Blaxploitation fold and into  realm of its own: populist revisionism. If only Inglorious Basterds had done it this good, or with this much style.

Black Dynamite (2009)

This film is currently available on DVD and Netflix Instant.

Directed by Scott Saunders
Starring Michael Jai White and Arsenio Hall

Posted by Danny

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