Starring: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Byron Minns
Writers: Michael Jai White/Byron Minns/Scott Sanders
Director: Scott Sanders
Rated R for Sexuality/Nudity, Language, Some Violence and Drug Content
Back in the 1970′s, there existed a film genre known as “Blaxploitation”. These films featured larger than life black heroes that were suave, tough, and could solve any problem that they encountered. They were low budget, had gaping plot holes, and the actors involved were as over the top as the fight sequences themselves. Black Dynamite, the 2009 film starring Michael Jai White, not only satirizes the cookier aspects of the genre, it pays homage and respect to these films, creating a movie experience that is self-referential and one of the funniest comedies in recent memory.
Jai White stars as the title character, a former Army veteran who spends his time beating up bad guys and teaching kids to be better people. When his brother is murdered, he goes on the warpath to extract revenge on those responsible. As he goes through the city’s scum (played by such actors as Mykelti “Don’t Call Me Bubba!” Williamson and Arsenio Hall), he finds out that the death of his brother has higher reaching consequences than he originally thought and the safety of his race is in jeopardy.
Black Dynamite is filled with references to the films that came before it. Everything that most people would find bad is actually done bad on purpose. Boom mics are visible in scenes, actors stumble over their dialogue, the fighting looks fake, and all the white characters are terribly acted all to achieve the look and feel of the old films. Normally, I would roll my eyes at a movie that is so referential, but Black Dynamite is the exception. The references are all very clever, thanks to the excellent script. The grainy look of the movie as well as the period costumes all mirror the 70′s so well that if you didn’t know better you would think this came out around the same time as Superfly.
Michael Jai White has created an iconic character with Black Dynamite. He makes up for any bad films he has done before with this performance. He is absolutely hilarious in his overly macho role and has comedic timing that I did not know he had. Every line is says will cause you to break out laughing, and his facial mannerisms are gut busting. With one look to the left or a look of disdain, he makes the scene that much funnier. His co-writer Byron Minns also does a great job of playing Bullhorn, a very obvious rip on the iconic Dolemite character portrayed by Rudy Ray Moore. He speaks in nothing but rhymes, and sounds just like Moore half the time, and he is just great. Even Tommy Davidson manages to not stink up the screen, and after watching Booty Call as many times as I have (don’t ask), it’s hard to even admit that.
The soundtrack is pure 70′s cheese, and many times, the singers are just singing about what is going on in the screen. If anyone remembers my review of Rob Zombie’s The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, you’ll know that I love stuff like this, so it added more to my enjoyment. Also, whenever Dynamite does something particularly awesome, the chorus of “Dyn-o-mite! Dyn-o-mite!” follows and it’s hilarious every single time.
There are so many funny moments and lines in that it is hard to do them all justice in this review and that is thanks to the excellent script by White, Minns, and Sanders. There are just so many well written jokes and homages through out the movie that you barely have time to stop laughing before another joke will set you off. This is how you write an homage movie, so take note anyone else who is thinking of doing this kind of referential comedy.
The plot, as expected, is stupid but it’s stupid for a purpose. The last twenty minutes, however, I had an issue with. Sure, the movie is supposed to be ridiculous and everything, but when you find out who the real villain is, it just feels too awkward and doesn’t feel like it fits in with the rest of the movie. Thankfully, they make up for it at the very end, but the final boss battle had me wishing they cut it out. The movie also at times feels like they just stuck everything they could possible in 80 minutes, making the movie feel longer than it should. It would have been beneficial to cut some scenes out and maybe save them for a sequel or something.
Minor issues aside, Black Dynamite is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and is definitely worth a purchase for anyone who loves good comedy. You don’t even need a real knowledge of the old Blaxploitation genre to get it, but it does help. Michael Jai White has created an iconic character and at the same time made up for the crap that has been his movie career. Black Dynamite is BRILLIANT, go watch it now!