Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Black Dynamite

My Rating: 7/10

This is the story of 1970s African-American action legend Black Dynamite. The Man killed his brother, pumped heroin into local orphanages, and flooded the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor. Black Dynamite was the one hero willing to fight The Man all the way from the blood-soaked city streets to the hallowed halls of the Honky House..

I wasn't sure what to expect, going into this, since I'd already seen "I'm gonna git you, sucka" many years ago and assumed another blaxploitation parody would have to be pretty much the same thing. Fortunately, Black Dynamite is hilarious in a whole different way.  Black Dynamite is more along the lines of something like OSS-117 - A very careful, very faithful recreation of the movies of its genre, right down to the film stock, lighting, sets, styles of acting and fights, and everything else. The humor is in the material itself, and the fact that the characters take it all completely seriously.  There are no outright gags - Instead, they go the Galaxy Quest route and lovingly recreate the object of their parody in a version that encapsulates all the endearing flaws of the original product, and puts them on display for grins.

A lot of the gags in the film are actually subtle and sneaky, despite the OTT subject matter, like in this fight scene. Keep your eyes on the nunchuks. [image]  Also, enjoy the awesome theme music, which kicks ass (and I already have the soundtrack).

It starts off fairly slow and I was wondering if I'd get any laughs out of it at all, then I was pulled into it and got in the groove with its style of humor, and once it bites, it just gets funnier and funnier as it goes.

The plot is pretty basic. Drug dealers kill Black Dynamite's younger brother and Black Dynamite sets out to clean up the streets, with help from his buddies, a pack of karate women, the local pimps' organization, a band of Black Panthers, and so on. Black Dynamite uncovers a chain of corruption that starts with Anaconda Malt Liquor ("When the cap pops, the panties drop!") and carries his fight to mob bosses, pimps, and all the way to Kung Fu Island and beyond.

It's also full of great lines:

Black Dynamite: Your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrification is only outmatched by your zest for kung-fu treachery!

Black Dynamite: Fiendish Doctor Wu, you done fucked up now!

Afroditey: I get off in fifteen minutes.
Black Dynamite: You right about that, sugar. You right about that.

The names in this flick are priceless. Mahogany Black, Chocolate Giddy-Up, Mo Bitches. I'm sure that somewhere out there is a very politically correct, racially sensitive person who was absolutely horrified by this film, but I mostly just feel sorry for them.  I once read an interesting conversation with blaxploitation goddess Pam Grier on the 70's wave, and she had a lot of things to say on the subject of racism in movies.  Towards the end of the 70's, the NAACP essentially shut down the blaxploitation craze, claiming it was disrespectful to black people, portrayed them in stereotypical ways, and glorified violence.  Pam's rebuttal was that it was a 10 year long output of films about black people, with all-black casts, black stars as the heroes, not secondary roles, and that every film was built on a rejection of drugs and poverty.  When the blaxploitation craze died, we went back to another 15 years of Hollywood films in which the only black character was Clint Eastwood's doomed sidekick, or the first guy to get murdered by Jason.  I think it's safe to say that this was not an improvement.  So toast one for the glory days of cleanin' up the streets, Black Dynamite-style.  Definitely worth seeing!

**Note - While I say worth seeing, a second thought suggests that this is going to be most effective for those who have seen a few blaxploitation flicks. If you haven't seen Shaft, Coffy, or especially Dolemite, it's possible some of the humor would be lost on you.... Like a non-Trek fan watching Galaxy Quest, or a non-60's Bond fan watching OSS-117. FWIW, though, I thought it was probably the best 70's exploitation parody I've seen since Kentucky Fried Movie.  If you're too young to have ever been to a drive-in, then this probably isn't the movie for you.  But why are you reading this blog anyway?

Suggested Accompaniment: Anaconda Malt Liquor, of course.  Also, big cigars are OK if you're feeling in the mood to be villainous Whitey.  

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