Black Dynamite (2009 Apparition Dir. Scott Sanders)
The Boom mic, the best co-star a movie could have.
Did you hear that Baltimore Colt's all-star running back Feronte Jones starred in a movie? Yeah, in 1972 there was a movie called Black Dynamite. It was a troubled production, but they got there in the end and produced what is probably the quintessential blaxploitation movie. At least that’s the meta-story for this film. A straight-faced comedy, playing against all the things that made blaxploitation… memorable. You don’t really want to say “great” because those films were rarely ever great. They were enjoyable and because of the idiosyncrasies of their productions they are lovingly remembered by those of us who like cheap cinema. In many ways, this is just a recreation of all the most memorable moments.
Donuts don't wear alligator shoes.
You ever see one of those movies that has central concept that holds up for 90 minutes, which causes a problem since the movie is two hours long? You know the sort of thing, the main joke starts to fall apart after the 80-minute mark and the last third of the movie just grates on your nerves. It’s the bane of concept movies, because often the concept would have worked fine for the sort of short, double feature style film no one makes anymore. Because it has to fill out a full-length film all on its own, the movie deflates because the joke couldn’t sustain an entire film. At its heart Black Dynamite is a joke that can hold up for about 100 minutes and then gets old. Fortunately, the movie is only 84 minutes long, so it never really drags. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for a sequel, which is a shame, but this one is such a thing of perfection that you almost don’t want to see them try.
I sell drugs to the community.
Let us begin with a quick explanation about what Black Dynamite is and what it isn’t. Black Dynamite is a loving and clever satire of the blaxploitation films of the seventies. What it isn't, is a wacky spoof movie like Airplane! or even I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. The comedy is greatly derived from reproducing the kinds of problems those movies had. Bad actors, the kind who would even say the stage directions. Badly edited scenes that lead to continuity being something that happened to other people. Boom mics bump people in the head, things get in shot, lots of production problems appear constantly. Of course, the fights are amazing in how uneven they can be. Some actors know what they’re doing, and some clearly don’t, but they’re all treated with the same weight.
He drives a five thousand dollar car and wears a hundred dollar suit.
What really sells this movie though is the film stock they used. A 16mm color reversal film is used, which is a terrible stock that no one uses because it mutes colors and destroys all the subtly in the blacks. It’s a terrible film stock, but perfect for the needs of this production. It makes the movie look exactly like a cheap film from the seventies. The sound and music production is spot on as well. All of this makes the movie feel exactly like a heavily dated and unloved blaxploitation movie that has degraded over the years. There are even vintage flavored ads floating around like the one for Fight Smack in The Orphanage.
Richard Nixon... with nunchucks.
You haven’t seen me talk about the plot yet, but there’s a reason for that. You don’t actually need to know the story of the movie. It touches upon pretty much every point from every one of these movies anyway. The specific jokes don’t need to be relayed to you, because it would just be someone trying to relate their favorite bit from a movie to you. Believe me, if you have any love for cheap cinema at all, you owe it to yourself to watch this movie. Not everyone is going to get this movie, it’s defiantly got a niche appeal, but the people who like this sort of thing are going to love this movie. You can get it on Blu-Ray or DVD, at reasonable prices too.
Official Score: 35 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.