Friday, November 13, 2009


There has been a cacophony of hype around BLACK DYNAMITE. Preview audiences have been raving about this thing since 2008. It is as funny and multiple viewing-worthy as they have all said. BLACK DYNAMITE is an extremely basic film with some of the most complex cinematic trimmings and humor presented in years. Other films have tried to secure the comedic homage to blaxploitation films in the past, most notably, the awfully unfunny I’M GONNA GET YOU SUCKA. But they have fizzled out with stupidity. BLACK DYNAMITE is no fizzler; it is an aptly named, concussive force tossed into our laps.

BLACK DYNAMITE is a revenge film at its nucleus. What it does with its posturing in its revenge film framework is reference virtually every blaxploitation film ever made while reveling in some of the most outlandish cheesiness ever committed to a mainstream film. Boom microphones hang in scenes and pester the actors, stock-footage car wrecks are brazenly edited in, and preposterous gun and fistfight sequences actually function. All of this playful applesauce is presented with a sophisticated brand of navel-gazing humor that works like a well-oiled .357 magnum.

Set in the flashy 70s, the movie follows Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) as he attempts to find out who killed his brother. What he unravels is a conspiracy theory that takes him all the way to “The Man” himself. Along the way, Dynamite learns of a heroin deluge in the local orphanage and the true motivation behind the flooding of malt liquor into the black community.

The references to SUPERFLY, SHAFT, THE MACK, and any movie starring Fred Williamson are so thick that the film might alienate someone who isn’t well-versed in blaxpoitation cinema. What BLACK DYNAMITE does to remedy this potentially huge lacuna is deliver a heavy dosage of quick edits, clever dialogue, and more sight gags than you have seen since the NAKED GUN series.

The supporting cast is incredibly strong as well. Byron Minns plays Bullhorn, Dynamite’s street-couplet spewing homeboy from way back. There is also a particularly outstanding performance by Mykelti Williamson as Chicago Wind. The outcome of Wind’s trash talk is one of the more memorable occurrences in the film. Other actors like Bokeem Woodbine (Black Hand Jack) and Arsenio Hall (Tasty Freeze) put in the work that is to be expected. It is indisputable that this is Michael Jai White’s show, and he hams it up as hard as possible in every damn scene he is in. White has hammered himself into superhero shape and is shirtless for a good part of the film. His ferocity is unparalleled as he cleans the pushers off the streets.

A particularly fun aspect of this film is that it is completely slapstick, and everyone in the film does a great job of playing straight. All of the silliness, ridiculous editing, and comedic soundbytes (DYNO-MITE!) are taken as a normal part of life in this ensemble-piece comedy.

If you know your blaxploitation films, BLACK DYNAMITE is definitely calibrated to hit your funny bone. If you aren’t as familiar with those wonderfully hard-edged, politically incorrect films of the late 60s and early 70s, some of BLACK DYNAMITE is definitely going to rush right over your head. This caveat isn’t going to ruin the experience, however. The kung-fu parodying in particular is straight out of BLACK BELT JONES, but any other kung-fu film will do. Surprisingly, BLACK DYNAMITE’S racial stereotyping never cruises too far into the offensive zone.

BLACK DYNAMITE is an insider-joke paradise with plenty of humor for those not completely in on the joke. Everything is larger than life in this film; from libido to explosions all aspects of this film are over-emphasized and exaggerated to extreme levels. This is a party-film that has dozens of quotable lines and re-cueable scenes. Simple yet complicated, smooth yet rough, BLACK DYNAMITE is the perfect comedic concoction of a modern-day blaxploitation parody.

-Mediasaurus Rex