Blaxploitation is back en vogue and funny as ever in director Scott Sanders “Black Dynamite”. Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Dark Knight) stars as the nunchuck-wielding, hot chick banging, soul brother saviour. Set in the early seventies, Black Dynamite’s brother has been killed by ‘The Man’. The CIA reinstates Black Dynamite’s license to kill, so he can stop The Man’s fiendish plot and avenge his brother. Dynamite recruits his old pals – Tasty Freeze (Arsenio Hall), Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson), Kotex (John Salley) and Gunsmoke (Buddy Lewis). But Dynamite is unprepared for the vast criminal conspiracy awaiting him and the poor citizens of the hood. It will require all of his ass-kicking and macking skills to overcome this enemy.
The film is a terrific satire of seventies blaxploitation classics like Dolemite, Superfly, and The Mack. Sanders was clever enough to duplicate the grainy film stock and low production value of the era. So you have scene after scene where Dynamite’s afro hits the boom (mic), or you can see the filmmakers clearly visible in the shot. There’s also a slew of poorly edited (on purpose) montages set to a crackling funk store. Then there’s the gratuitous nudity. You’ll get your booby fix as Dynamite nails everything in sight, in between shots of him flexing his monstrous pecs.
The script, written by Sanders and White, is very basic; but smart enough to deliver a few important themes. This is a comedy and an homage of sorts, but the issues Dynamite faces are very real in their scope. Poverty, drug use, racism, gang violence, realistic and pertinent, but dealt with in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek manner. I particularly liked a monologue in the end concerning violence against women. Dynamite hits a girl, and then launches into a hysterically profuse apology.
The action is pretty good as well. While the gunfights are comical, the fisticuffs are great. Michael Jai White opens a can of whoop ass on his enemies. White is a highly accomplished martial artist and takes it to glory here. I don’t think we’ve seen anyone this awesome on film with nunchucks since Jet Li in Kiss of the Dragon. White is a gifted action star and I’m glad Sanders made the hand-to-hand combat realistic.
It’s important to note that Black Dynamite isn’t competing for any Oscars here. It is a silly satire and needs to be viewed as such. The runtime is short, but it does unfortunately lag in some parts. This is understandable, as you can only mimic the source material so far without getting bogged down. I’m not sure if the film is worth the hefty cost of today’s ticket prices, but is a must see; especially if you’re a fan of the genre. And if you haven’t seen any blaxploitation films, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have copied this style in their recent works.