April 16, 2011

Pay Attention Honkies!

LAMB Movie of the Month makes it triumphant return today. Every month, the whole community gets together to discuss one particular flick. Headed up by an exclusive LAMBcast, and backed by articles written by others, one film is heavily scrutinized, as only the Large Ass. Movie Blogs can do it. For it's triumphant return, the community decided that the first Movie of the Month would be Black Dynamite. Hell yeah!

I'll admit. Blaxploitation is not a realm of film I am very well versed in. In fact, I wouldn't say I'm versed in it at all, as I haven't seen one example of the genre. That being said, I am well aware of the quirks that define films of that sort. The crazy, over dramatic, sudden zooms. The completely unnecessary explosions. The afros. The machoness. The saturated colors. The white villains. And so on and so on. Lately, there has been an influx of mainstream grindhouse pics, thanks to Tarantino and Rodriguez popularizing the medium, but most of them have taken themselves completely seriously... or, rather, as seriously as a film like Hobo With A Shotgun can be taken. Black Dynamite, on the other hand, is a spoof. It does not take itself seriously in any context, and is full to bursting with joke after joke after karate chop after joke. It's a smart, savvy, witty, stab at everything blaxploitation. And, funnily enough, it teaches valuable life lessons on the etiquette of interrupting someone's kung fu. You won't learn these things anywhere else kids. Pay attention.

What did you just say about my hair?

In a world where corruption rules the streets, kids are shooting drugs, and The Man is coming down hard on you and your brothas, one man takes a stand. That man is Black Dynamite, a nun-chuck wielding, woman loving, kung fu master who don't take no shit from no man. Never one to crack a smile, he patrols the town, delivering the ass whooping, and defending his lady love. When his brother is mysteriously and suddenly murdered, Black Dynamite takes matters into his own hands to bring the killers to justice and discovers a conspiracy that reaches into the very halls of Honky House. Along the way, he has sex with four, no, EIGHT, women (at the same time), shoots a donut, and battles a Chinese Kung Fu sensei. You know...  normal things.

Oh, sure, look at it in any objective manner, and you'll find plot holes aplenty, bad writing, and weak progression. But, that's kind of what makes these movies so enjoyable. You welcome all the absurdities getting thrown at you with open arms, so that when Black Dynamite and Co go on a five minute trivia rant in order to figure out the effects of an adulterated malt liquor, you just shrug and keep watching. Bad guys are suddenly good guys; good guys are suddenly bad guys. The woman falls in love with the man instantly, and Black Dynamite very clearly kills someone, only to pick him up, dust him off, and send him home. It's not good on any level of integrity, but who gives a crap?

Michael Jai White, one of the most badass people alive, plays BD. You'd be forgiven if you were a tad worried about his abilities as an actor, since his most high profile thing to date has been a barely there role in The Dark Knight. But, Black Dynamite is his brain child, and he gives the role it's just deserves. He's hilarious, tough, and five kinds of awesome! Black Dynamite is a man who can throw an axe and have it strategically cut off a man's arm 30 seconds after he has entered the room, has fathered pretty much every single kid on the block, and other brag worthy exploits. Jai White does a bang up job with the character. He has serious comedic chops, something that hasn't really utilized in anything else. It's refreshing.

That's about it as far as performers go, because White is really the only "name" attached to this. But, everyone does a good job, tapping into their respective wells of over-the-topness and ridiculousness, and they are all hilarious.

Fiendish Dr. Wu, you done fucked up now!

Jai White and director Scott Sanders succeed the only way a movie like this can succeed. They both obviously love the genre they are satirizing, and not only that, they love the stupid parts above it all. And rather than go the Shaun of the Dead route and make a version of the film set in the present day, they opted to go the route of Tarantino and Rodriguez and recreate a blaxploitation flick down to the minutest detail. So, you'll get the crazy afros, the jivy funk soundtrack, and all the black empowerment you can get in a two hour package.

Of course, this a comedy, and Jai White and Sanders are not afraid to poke fun at the genre. So, you'll get boom mikes entering the frame. You'll get an incredibly over the top monologue about one character's experience in Nam. You'll get an actor getting replaced by his stunt double, mid-scene. And not just that. Jai White and Sanders do a great job of playing with the conventions that plague movies like this. Example: A man is talking loudly about his plans to start a family, only to be the proud recipient of a spear to the chest not five seconds later. To which Black Dynamite replies "Who saw that coming?" That's only one example in a sea of goodness.

Yeah, I can't really find anything to complain about. Sure, viewed on any objective level, and the film is a massive failure. But, that was the point, so, in reality, it's a resounding success. Look. All of the film's intentions and motives are thrown out the window when you realize that the film is friggin' hysterical! That's all you really need to know. Well, that, and never interrupt a man's kung fu! Seriously! Bad things will happen! Don't do it!


  1. Really great review!

    I enjoyed this film a lot as well, easily one of the best comedies of the decade.
    I really hope we'll be seeing more of White in the future, he's got such a great screen presence.

    Also I don't mean to be nit-picky but you mention a Kung Fu sensei in your review, well sensei is a Japanese word and Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art so they don't really go together...
    Just thought I'd point it out :)

    Anyway, great review and we agree on all points, this film was just hilarious!

  2. Sweet - thanks for taking part!

    Yeah, the only real problem with this movie is finding faults, and with the structure of it, it's almost as if any faults are immediately negated by the fact that it's supposed to be pretty awful. So I guess we have to look for things that are done too well to really find anything wrong with it. Ooooh...deep.

    Oh, and one more correction for ya...White was known mostly for Spawn prior to this, I'd say. Starring role in a mid-sized comic book movie has to beat out 2-minute performance in an epic comic book movie. Right?

  3. @Jack L: Something tells me this movie doesn't care about stuff like that. Besides, despite the factual errors, Kung Fu sensei has a nice ring to it.

    @Fletch: No! I don't know a single person who has actually seen SPAWN, but everyone in the world saw THE DARK KNIGHT. This is a case of where a 2 minute role is the more seen one. Oooooh... deep.

  4. I've seen it. More seen? Perhaps. But I'm not sure how meaningful that is. You think Tiny Lister is known more for TDK...or for Friday (or The Fifth Element)?

  5. @Probably TDK, because that was memorable moment. And then people will be all like "Wait, that's the guy from FRIDAY!! AWWW, NO WAY, BRO!!!" But, because TDK was seen by everyone, and everyone knows that scene, my statement stands.

  6. Sure, Seb, whatever you say.

    TDK is the only movie that ever existed!!!1!1!

  7. I'm right! You know I'm right!!!

    I'm right... right?