Black Dynamite, a former CIA agent, vows to clean up the streets after his brother is killed by a shady organization. O’Leary, Black Dynamite’s old CIA partner, reinstates Black Dynamite back into the agency because they do not want him seeking vengeance by himself. Trying to get to the bottom of his brother’s murder he finds out that his brother was actually working for the CIA. Black Dynamite also finds out the shady organization is filling the black orphanages with heroin. He declares war on local drug dealers and successfully cleans up the streets.
After discovering the government’s involvement in the drug ring, Black Dynamite steals the ledger belonging to the corrupt Congressman James. Dynamite and his team must storm the warehouse to capture a big shipment. They learn of code Kansas but find no drugs in the warehouse, only Anaconda malt liquor. In a diner they decipher code Kansas to be a plan to use Anaconda malt liquor to shrink black men’s penises. Back at the warehouse Black Dynamite finds O’Leary is part of the evil plan but is just following orders.
Black Dynamite heads to Kung Fu Island, where he discovers that the Fiendish Dr. Wu created the secret formula put in Anaconda malt liquor. After defeating him in battle, Black Dynamite discovers from Dr. Wu the true mastermind of the entire operation.
Black Dynamite then travels to the White House and confronts President Richard Nixon, who has been giving the orders from the beginning. After Black Dynamite defeats Nixon in a kung fu battle, he begs for his life and his plan is foiled.
Shut your mouth jive turkey! Yep, you guessed it Black Dynamite is a blaxploitation picture, but, the catch is that it was done in modern times. In a manner similar to Quentin Tarntino’s Grindhouse films, as well as the upcoming Machete, this picture uses a lot of techniques and equipment long forgotten, such as no electronic instruments in the score.
Aside from making this actually look like it was filmed in the 70s, the filmmakers decided to do some spoofing of the genre. For instance, there is a scene where Black dynamite is talking and a boom mic comes down in the scene, in another one of the actors is reciting his lines, but includes the stage directions. Little things like this make this so much more the enjoyable film.
Look, this film was never meant to win anyone any awards for acting, so if you were expecting to see something on the level of a Meryl Streep performance, you’ll be sadly mistaken. Having said that, though, the actors really get into their roles. I always find it refreshing to watch a film where it looks like they are having fun rather than just showing up for a paycheck. Sure the lines are cheesy, but this is set in the 70s and is also a spoof, so that’s to be expected. What impresses me is that they make it look like they were actually trying to make a serious film, when they all knew this was supposed to be nothing more than a spoof.
In the titular role, Michael Jai White has found a role that he can really sink his teeth into. He channels all the black heroes from the 70s and adds a bit of hisself into Black Dynamite and it works. I have to say, though, this guy is built like a truck. If they ever go through with Black Panther or Luke Cage films, he should be high up on the list. They wouldn’t have to build in any muscle if they do so.
Behind every great man, there has to be a great woman. In Black Dynamite’s case, there is Gloria, played by Salli Richardson. Look, I’m not gonna lie to you, she underwhelmed me with her performance. I don’t know, maybe I’ve seen to many Pam Grier blaxploitation flicks, but it seemed like she was trying to be her, and failing. Such a shame since she seems to be a very competent actress. I just wish she would have brought something a bit more original to the character, rather than just being a Grier clone.
The supporting cast is great, especially Tommy Davidson as Cream Corn. Yes, I said Cream Corn. Also, look for Arsenio Hall and Brian McKnight in the pimp meeting, as well as Nicole Sullivan in the film’s final scene, as Patricia Nixon.
The action is what you would expect from this type of flick..stylized, choreographed, and a bit cheesy. Of course, if it were any other way, it wouldn’t work as well.
As far as the plot goes…well, there are holes big enough to push a planet through, but if you’ve ever watched a blaxploitation film, you’ll know that they have the same issues, so I’ll chalk that up to capturing the true essence of the genre. I could have done with a little better pacing, especially at the beginning, though, but again, that is more to do with capturing the genre’s essence, as most, if not all, blaxploitation films seem to take forever to get going.
I don’t have much to say against this film. They did say that this was hilarious, though. Granted, there were some moments, but they were subtle. I realize this wasn’t meant to be a comedy, but I just think they could have played up those moments a bit more. Also, it would have been cool to maybe see scene that disappeared or is reversed because of the old camera, or perhaps that old popping sound, since this is supposed ot be filmed during the 70s.
Black Dynamite was only released to limited theaters. As a matter of fact, if not for reading about this on a movie blog when it was released, I wouldn’t have known about it. Hopefully, though, it will gain a cult, underground following, and maybe spur on a franchise. This not a character that needs to be one and done. This is not a film that needs to be sitting on the shelves collecting dust. It is too good. Not in terms of actual filmmaking, bu rather in terms of paying homage to the time period and capturing the techniques and such from that era.
This is not a film for everyone, though. I’m sure that someone out there will go out of their way to scream that it is racist, when it is no more racist than any other film that makes fun of racial differences and whatnot. Anyone that believes such things must not have a mind of their own, and as for those that start such things, they must have some extremely fruitless lives to come up with such incredible slander.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest…should you see this picture? My answer is an emphatic yes. There’s action, comedy, a bit of romance…something for everyone. How can you not like this?
4 1/2 out of 5 stars