The 1970s were more than just about polyester bell bottom pants, experimentation with mind altering drugs or unprotected group sex (or was that the 60s?). Whatever the case, I’m quite sure it was the time of the blaxsploitation film. Stereotypical black characters (pimps, pushers, thugs, etc.) in stereotypical locations (ghetto and/or other urban environment) abound. Rallying against them and “the man” is the lone wolf enforcer. Think Shaft, think Dolemite. While not necessarily meant to be funny (they served a social purpose, I’m told) these movies are hard to not laugh at today. Because of this, they’re ripe for lampooning. Hello, Black Dynamite.
And boy did the writing trio of Michael Jai White, Byron Minns and Scott Sanders get it right.
Whether the plot makes any sense or not is immaterial (it doesn’t really) — it’s how it hilariously plays out that is key to the success of the movie. But for the record, two things have really pissed off Mr. Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) so much so that he has to take time away from bedding sexy girls and practicing his kung-fu: Someone killed his brother Ben in a drug deal gone wrong and someone is getting little orphans hooked on smack.
Taking it to the mean streets, he, and his meticulously groomed mustache, roughs up some of the city’s ridiculously named hustlas like: Chicago Wind (Mykelti Williamson), Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson), Black Hand Jack (Bokeem Woodbine), Chocolate Giddy-Up (Cedric Yarbrough) and Tasty Freeze (Arsenio Hall) for some answers. This leads to a brain dizzying scene which has him and some righteous Black Panther brothers playing a game of word association — starting with “melt in yo mouth” and ending with “little dick”. It may look like a simple connection, but the convoluted route they take will cause you to fall out of your seat.
Inexplicably, yet equally funny, he’s taken to the farfetched locales of Kung-Fu Island (where he meets the infamous Dr. Wu (Roger Yuan)) and the White House.
Through it all, Black Dynamite pokes fun at itself and the genre at every turn. Boom mics in the frame and hitting actors in the head, erratic camera usage with wild, oft mistimed dramatic zoom-ins and some of the cheesiest lines in cinematic history are littered throughout the film. And all the while, the actors play it straight, never missing a beat even though they’re fully aware of how purposely bad the production is. Oh yeah, next time I watch this (I will most certainly watch this again) I’m going to count the number of times the word “motherfucker” is gratuitously used — I’m betting there is a Guinness record there.
Just as Airplane! did thirty years prior with the prevailing disaster movies of the time, Black Dynamite manages to stand on its own as a comedy even if the viewer doesn’t get the “inside story” of the movie. It is nearly flawless in its execution — even making the credits fun enough to sit through and watch scroll by. This is what Undercover Brother and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka wishes they were.