Short Version: While some may view it as spoofing-by-the-numbers, Black Dynamite is still a worthy send-up of the blaxploitation genre.
Black Dynamite, directed by Scott Sanders, is a glorious mash-up spoof of 1970s grind house and blaxploitation movies. It stars Michael Jai White, most recently seen as Gambol in The Dark Knight.
The “story” centers on Black Dynamite avenging the death of his bother, who was apparently dealing drugs. Of course the brother wasn’t really dealing dope, but was instead being framed by “The Man.” If you can’t tell yet the plot is classic blaxploitation and the semi-familiar players all admirably fill their rolls, toting names such as “Cream Corn,” “Tasty Freeze” and “Chicago Wind.” For you fans of The Best D*mn Sports Show Period, John Salley even makes a guest appearance as a hood named “Kotex.”
The first 2/3 of Black Dynamite is ripe with all the sophomoric humor one might associate with any Judd Apatow production, which (to me) is a good thing. For those of you who remember the movie Airplane! you will appreciate a great joke involving a boom mike. Jokes regarding the low budgets of grindhouse movies are rife throughout this film. A particularly funny one involves the “tears” that are and then aren’t flowing in an emotional scene between Black Dynamite and Honeybee. Everything is up for parody in this movie.
What ultimately makes this film so enjoyable is the way it takes the tropes of blaxploitation and grindhouse films from the 1970s, and somehow makes them seem fresh. Even the old caricature of the solitary hero just back from Vietnam is played for laughs, as Black Dynamite consistently refers to the wrong country, every time he suffers another flashback while on the violent search for his brother’s murderer. And it’s a quest which ascends the ladder of culprits all the way to the top.
I don’t think I’m giving away anything by revealing that the “surprise” archvillain is Tricky Dick Nixon himself (who else would it be, really?) and that the ex-Pres is surprisingly handy with a pair of nunchucks. Even the whole “diabolical plot” created by The Man – to shrink the “member” size of African American males – is a hilarious send-up of a stereotype; almost every joke has a reason for being in the film and seems to have been wittily thought out.
Before too long I knew what was going to happen in every scene of this movie (which says more about the number of B-movies I’ve seen and less with the predictability of the movie itself), but unlike repetitive and uninspired drek like Transformers 2 (and despite the fairly bizarre nature of the climax), I still laughed a lot, as did a fair portion of the audience.
If you like blaxploitation, grindhouse B-movies or just a good, funny spoof, you’ll like Black Dynamite.
(Thanks to guest writer Sulai Sivadel for the review.)
Black Dynamite is currently playing in the following locations and theaters: