Film Review: Black Dynamite

My knowledge of Blaxploitation films doesn’t really go beyond Shaft and Tarantino’s homage to the genre, Jackie Brown. However, I think most people are familiar with the basis of the 1970’s Blaxploitation films and television programs to know that they consist of badass brothers, foxy ladies, jive-ass turkeys, pimps, crime, and funk/soul music.  That being said, Black Dynamite is awesome.  It’s not only a spoof of Blaxploitation films, but also a kung-foo, action, and conspiracy film.  Black Dynamite is well executed and very thought-out.  Director Scott Sanders paid attention to detail, it looks and feels like the films it aims to replicate, through the use of 16mm film and 1970’s stock footage, giving it a gritty, scratchy and contrasted look.  The soundtrack is great, using original funk and soul music by Adrian Younge that literally describes what is happening on-screen in a hilarious fashion, and uses vintage sound effects.

Michael Jai White stars as Black Dynamite, a smooth talking ladies man and vicious ex-CIA agent.  The mafia, who are flooding the streets with heroin and a new malt liquor, murder Black Dynamite’s brother.  So Black Dynamite goes on a mission to find out who killed his brother and rid the streets of smack.  “Ain’t nothin’ in the world get Black Dynamite more mad than some jive ass sucka dealin’ smack to the kids!” says Black Dynamite in a room full of pre-teen orphans smacking their arms and jonesing for heroin.  Black Dynamite is returned his “license to kill” (a CIA badge) and follows a trail leading him into an unraveling international conspiracy by “the man” that aims to ruin the lives of African-Americans.  When that conspiracy is confusingly unraveled in a neighborhood diner, it’s one of the funniest moments of the movie; involving astrological signs, Greek and Roman mythology, snakes, M&M’s, and Little Richard.

Black Dynamite is full of memorable quotes from its protagonist to a supporting cast which includes Arsenio Hall (Tasty Freeze), Tommy Davidson (Cream Corn), Kevin Chapman (O’Leary), Byron Minns (Bull Horn), and even a cameo by Richard Pryor (via stock footage).  The characters speak with a flow of smooth delivery like when Bullhorn says during a fight, “Oh, you’s a corn-fed fool with a lot of muscle mass. But it’s time for Bullhorn to get up in that ass!”   There’s also an abundance of action to level with the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film, including the well choreographed fight scenes (especially the surprising finale).  Black Dynamite is always increasing the body count as he takes on a never-ending flow of hustlers and thugs with the use of kung-foo, guns, nunchucks, and hand-to-hand combat.  He flies in helicopters, has car chases, throws grenades, and parachutes while shooting his signature magnum at his enemies.  Black Dynamite is one of the most entertaining movies I have seen in a while.  So don’t be a jive-ass sucka’ and watch it.

– Ian Lewis

Watch the trailer below


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