Black Dynamite (2009): Breakdown by Rantbo
Imma tell you story, about a friend I’ve had…
He’s a mean mother fucker and he’s super bad.
So grab on to your seats…
And hang on tight.
While I tell you a story…
About BLACK DYNAMITE!
As the 70s drew to a close, sadly so did it’s greatest contribution to film. The genre of blaxploitation had become over saturated, played out and willfully forgotten by most filmgoers. It was a god damn tragedy. And while several attempts to modernize and breathe new life into the genre where gallantly attempted (ACTION JACKSON, THE LAST DRAGON, JACKIE BROWN), it was too little, too far apart, too late. The genre had been left for dead, only to be trudged out and mocked every so many years by former fans, and comedians whose hearts were in the right place, but talent was ill-equipped for any hope of a blaxploitation jump-start ( I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA, UNDERCOVER BROTHER).
But, I’m very, very pleased to say a small group of men have succeeded where so many had failed. Film director Scott Sanders, actor/writers Michael Jai White and Byron Minns, and super talented editor/musician Adrian Younge have made one of the most entertaining and fun entries this beloved cult genre has ever seen.
They killed his brother, plotted against the Black man, and worst of all, the jive-ass suckas sold smack to the orphanage. Yes sir, these treacherous kung fu mother fuckers have gone too god damned far for one ex-CIA agent to let it slide. And Black Dynamite is just the brother to set things right.
While I’m not going to be the first to make this connection (nor the first to also refute it), BLACK DYNAMITE reminded me a lot of AUSTIN POWERS. Both films play up the comedic aspects of their respective genre’s flaws, but differ in that DYNAMITE also included all of the strengths, instead of flipping them around like Mike Meyers did with AUSTIN. I.E. Bond is sexy and smooth, Powers is hideous and creepy. Conversely, Shaft is a badass mother fucker, so Dynamite is a badass mother fucker. Note the distinction.
And in ignoring the post-modernism winks, DYNAMITE plays just like a slightly sillier than normal blaxploitation film. It isn’t a parody so much as it’s a comedic homage to the cheesy aspects that made the genre so much fun. So, in a way, BLACK DYNAMITE is more like a mix between DEATH PROOF and THE NAKED GUN than a straight up spoof film. It’s shotty film work but taken seriously. The only difference between this and vintage blaxploitation is DYNAMITE does the sloppiness intentionally to play up the laughs. And as such, is hysterically fucking brilliant.
So with the comedic aspects nailed down tight, all that’s left is the action, cinematography, editing, soundtrack, score, cast and story. And I’m happy to say, all are spectacular. Combined with funny inserts of lame stock-footage, MJW’s “kong-fu” is as expertly entertaining as it ever was, but made better by the fact that he intentionally hams it up with intentional/unintentional mistakes and an affliction for blinking excessively when using weapons (a tribute to Jim Brown). The film, intentionally shot as an expertly staged narrative of boom mics, continuity errors and controlled chaos, is a testament to the love and endearment to the genre it’s paying tribute.
And it’s film’s like these that never receive their due recognition by the film industry that keep me from ever giving a shit about the Academy Awards. Because if they had any eye for talent and expertly crafted work, BLACK DYNAMITE would have been nominated for Best Costumes, Best Original Score and Best Song. Ruth E. Carter’s costume designs are stellar and Adrian Younge’s music fits the style, mood and setting so well it’s simply perfect. Period. As for the cast and story, a script this funny that so expertly captures the all the themes and nuances of blaxploitation could only have been brought to life by an ensemble of artists dedicated to the idea and in love with the genre. And BLACK DYNAMITE lives.
If you’re into blaxploitation at all, or even if you just enjoy a damn good comedy, not only should you pick this one up, but you should buy it, if only to grease the potential wheels of a sequel. I’m begging you all, check this one out for the genre’s sake, you won’t be let down, it’s DY-NO-MITE!
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Michael Jai White is Black Dynamite
Not even a question. You take the grit, presence and good looks of Richard Rountree, the martial arts prowess of Bruce Lee and stick them in the body of Mike Tyson and you have MJW’s ex-CIA, Vietnam vet, license to kill-carrying Black Dynamite. A man so badass, he kills without a second glace. A man so blazingly macho he can sexually please five women at one time, yet is completely uncomfortable receiving a romantic hug. A man so cocksure, so driven, so stylish, so—just fucking badass! I mean, do I really need to continue? Jai White is quickly becoming the new go-to action hero. He’s big, he’s black, he’s smart, he can act and most importantly, he can AND DOES, kick ass.
[THE BODY COUNT: 56]
Though much of the violence is reused footage from vintage 70s cult films and MISSING IN ACTION, the film does feature quite a bunch of it’s own gruesome slayings. Black Dynamite gets a quite impressive (and unexpected) 30, by way of the gun, grenade, kong fu, fire and heli-drop*. Another 16 are attributed to his brothas in arms and the rest are all various enemy kills done against Team Dynamite. All of which pay for dearly for their treachery.
Check out the Body Count Breakdown: HERE
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
*He Is Smiling. Really, He Actually Is…
Black Dynamite and his crew hit the streets and clean it up with blood and elbow grease, successfully killing all the mobsters that done sold junk to the orphaned children. And Black Dynamite seals the fate of the man behind it all (well—seemingly, as this happens about halfway through the film), Rafelli (Mike Starr). When the mob boss tries to flee from Dynamite’s justice in his car, Black follows him in an out-of-nowhere helicopter of mass convenience. I say “mass”, as it has a giant magnet tow connected to it, which Dynamite uses to pick up Rafelli’s car and drop it off the side of a cliff (re-reusing a piece of stock footage they already used for Chicago Wind’s death).
But what makes this kill so satisfying is the way MJW plays the act of the kill. He’s laughing manically throughout the whole ordeal, which is unsettlingly awesome, as he doesn’t so much as smile the entire rest of the film. He even laughs well into the next scene, making for one of the more funny comedic bits in the movie. All-in-all, a most satisfying execution.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Michael Jai White is one fit mofo, and as such has no shame in displaying it freely. But as for the character of Black Dynamite, the man fucks women in sets of five. It’s really not in question. You do however get to see him shirtless, and his buddy Gunsmoke shows off his piece…
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
So, about those five women…
Tasty, no? And while DYNAMITE does feature a strong, black, take-no-shit, Pam Grier-esque sista, she too only ends up falling prey to the dynamo. And aside from her, every girl in the film is either a whore, or gets treated like one that’s outta line and they all couldn’t be happier about it. But, such is the “joke” (read: true facts) of the film. Women are the pleasure deliverers and pain receivers in Black Dynamite’s world. Best accept it ladies, or Dynamite will turn yo’ ass back to Crenshaw Pete with his hot ass coat hangers*.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: Showdown At The Hip Pocket
Along the path to discovering what jive mutha killed his brother, Black Dynamite’s trail leads him to a pool hall called the Hip Pocket, a man named Chicago Wind and a slew of his thuggish homies. When questioned about the murder, Chicago gives Dynamite nothing but lip, and his back-up, even more so. Seemingly defeated, Dynamite turns to leave and on his way out is met with more of the trash talking same, that is—until Dynamite’s reasons for walking to the door is made clear.
Turning over the open sign and locking the security gate for a little beat-down privacy and to discourage those that should try to flee his wrath. What happens next is awesome, but inconsequential as his ultimate badassness has clearly already been illustrated to it’s peak. The ensuing fight in which he destroys the whole room with his kong fu is just more delicious chocolate snow on the top.
Almost without exception, every line in this film is quotable. It’s been less than a week since I saw it, and I’ve already worked a bunch of them into my annoying repertoire of pop-centric lingo. So picking one line above all the others is nigh impossible. So, I decided to just go with the one that made me laugh the most.
While trying to give solace, and say good bye to his leading lady with style, BD gets interrupted by one of the hoes he looks after…
Black Dynamite: You be cool, mama, Bee here’ll keep you tight and outta sight. I’ma shake the tree from the roots and rake up the fruits. Rip it up out the ground to find out what’s goin down. Don’t worry bout tomorrow, mama, cause tonight…
Euphoria (sarcastically stealing his thunder): Dynamite’s gonna make everything aaaall right.
Black Dynamite: Euphoria, shut the fuck up! I know that was you, I ain’t even gotta look! I should send your ass back to Crenshaw Pete with his hot ass coat hangers, bitch! Would you like that?
Out of nowhere, this short scene in the middle of the film had me in stitches. And it was that small exchange of dialogue that made me know I was watching a modern comedy classic.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Wherever there’s injustice, wrongs to be righted, innocents to be defended, Black Dynamite will be there, delivering ass-whuppings. And he will not hesitate to lay the hammer down on any clown that comes around. Because if they wanna fight, they come see… Black Dynamite.
[THE CHECKLIST: 18 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[ ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
Black Dynamite (2009) © Apparition and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment