kung-fu

MOVIE REVIEW: Black Dynamite (2010)


 

BLACK FRONT

BLACK DYNAMITE (Sony Pictures, 2010)

Directed by Scott Sanders, 84 minutes

Michael Jai White is…Black Dynamite!

Shot on 70’s film stock to give it that saturated vintage look, and loaded with great original music, Black Dynamite is a treat. It looks authentically 70’s, but it’s not for everybody. Some will look at the poorly focused camera work, the shoddy stunts, the bad dialogue, and the rubber baseball bats and turn it off immediately. Others will “get it” and appreciate this for what it is: A skillfully directed spoof movie that actually works!

Plus, the music is pure funky goodness and nothing but.  You’d think it was entirely vintage, from the 1970’s.  Nuh-uh, brother.  This funky masterwork is all new, dig?  Composer Adrian Younge wrote and played nearly every instrument on this soundtrack.

Michael Jai White came up with the look and concept of the title character, Black Dynamite.  It cleverly spoofs 70’s blaxploitation and kung-fu films, with built-in defects such as visible boom mikes and actors that are clearly reading their lines off cue cards (including the character names). You’ll see the same car blow up more than once.  There’s one character that speaks only in rhymes.  This movie comes off so authentic that some people actually think it’s a low budget 70’s film.

Black Dynamite, a former CIA agent who’s seen action in ‘Nam, hits the streets to find out who killed his brother. This takes him face to face with a drug dealing gang lead by Rafelli (Mike Starr), and some kung-fu treachery that goes all the way to the top. Black Dynamite is the toughest cat in town, a kung fu expert and smooth with the ladies. Yet he’s not all bad — he’s got a soft spot for orphans, and a vendetta against drug dealers.

As the movie progresses, it gets more and more absurd. Starting off as a street vigilante story, it eventually escalates to conspiracy and a deadly encounter on Kung Fu Island. By the time it gets to the climax, we are at a level of absurdity unrivaled by the worst action films, except it’s all intentional. Tie this in with some pretty awesome fighting moves by White, and some infinitely quotable dialogue, and you have a movie that you will watch over and over again.

Black Dynamite, as a movie, just works. It is an homage more than a spoof, and obvious love for the genre was poured into the film. At various times it feels like a legitimate 70’s blaxploitation film, at others you’re laughing your face off. As mentioned, it gets more and more bizarre as it goes along, so hang on tight.

Blu-ray extras are sparse, but valuable if you don’t know a lot about this genre. It will give you some insight if you’re unfamiliar with those 70’s classic B-movies. Clearly, Michael Jai White and co. did this lovingly.  One of my favourite features is the hilarious trailer featuring fake names for all the actors.  “Starring all-star running-back Ferrante Jones.”  Love it.

Sound like something you’d be into? Dynamite!

5/5 stars

In Cinemaphonic Quadrovision!

Soundtrack:

1. Black Dynamite Theme
2. Cleaning Up the Streets
3. Man with the Heat (Superbad)
4. Shine
5. Jimmy’s Dead
6. Shot Me in the Heart
7. Black They Back
8. Gloria (Zodiac Lovers)
9. Anaconda Malt Liquor
10. Jimmy’s Apartment
11. Jimmy’s Dead (Interlude)
12. Chicago Wind
13. Rafelli Chase
14. Jimmy’s Dead (Instrumental)
15. Dynomite (Suckapunch Re-edit)