On DVD: Black Dynamite

With “Black Dynamite,” it’s pretty simple: what you see is what you get. Blaxploitation at its finest, the film attempts to rediscover, through means of both tribute and satire, an oft-forgotten genre of the 1970s. Drug-dealing, flashy clothes, afros, kung fu and a soundtrack layered with wah-wah pedal all contribute to flawless period re-creation. Quite simply, “Black Dynamite” provides a nice care-free jaunt to an odd corner of movie history.

Michael Jai White stars as Black Dynamite, the ex-CIA Vietnam vet ladies’ man with a black belt in ass-whooping. Considering pop culture’s ever-growing love of old school badassery (all the Chuck Norris jokes, for example), this character concept fits in with the popular cannon, otherwise the film could come off as a pointless exercise in dead filmmaking techniques.

Black Dynamite takes to the streets with a vengeance because his brother has been shot and killed and children in orphanages are doing smack and ODing more than ever before. The story follows him from lead to lead: every tip-off he gets brings him closer and closer to the people behind his brother’s death. He then beats them down. To explain more would be a gross waste. Your time will best be served scanning about for the subtle jokes rather than trying to figure out where the “mystery” will go next.

Loaded with more “cats” and “jive turkeys” than you could shake a nun-chuck at, “Black Dynamite” relies on the money-maker one-liners, occasionally sneaking in clever bits (especially with regards to the ’70s portrayal of women characters) that satirize and honor the entertainment-driven genre of yore.

“Black Dynamite” provides a rare entertainment experience and merely by attempting to reawaken the genre for a new generation. In spite of how stale the last thirty minutes feel as the plot loses steam, there’s no question that the film provides an experience that simply has no equal. Even the styles of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who have woven ’70s technique and style into their essentially modern films, do not pay nearly as much homage to one of film’s most interesting eras as “Black Dynamite” does.

Rarely does a film provide a cinematic education while essentially existing solely for the purpose of entertainment. Either way, it’s enough to get this honkey on board.

3/5 Stars

Black Dynamite
Directed by Scott Sanders
Written by Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, Scott Sanders
Starring: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Byron Minns


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