Black Dynamite (2009)

Action, Comedy
Arsenio Hall, Tommy Davidson, Phyllis Applegate, Obba Babatundé
Black Dynamite is the greatest African-American action star of the 1970s. When his only brother is killed by The Man it's up to him to find justice.
A loving and meticulous send-up of 1970s blaxsploitation movies, Black Dynamite is funny enough for the frat house and clever enough for film buffs.
  • Sony Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 13 Jan 2010 Released:
  • 16 Feb 2010 DVD Release:
  • $0.1M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Black Gold!10/10
It's not often that I enjoy a movie to the point of laughing out loud – but Black Dynamite had me belly-laughing more than once. For those of us who are old enough to remember the joys of 1970's cinema this movie brings back all that was best (and worst) of those slightly grainy, scratched, funk and wow-wow pedal laden classics. The deliberate continuity errors and goofs are hilarious. The dialogue and stock characters could be drawn from any of those wonderful blacksploitation movies that were so exciting for a young lad living in rainy (and then almost 100% white) Ireland. So dig out your wide-collar shirt, pendant and platform boots and enjoy this gem.
Listen up turkey! Black Dynamite is the baddest movie to ever hit the big screen!10/10
All you suckas gather round, there's a brand new movie in town! So get on up and check the scene cause Black Dynamite is the baddest movie to ever hit the big screen! Black Dynamite, directed by Scott Sanders (Thick as Thieves), is a fun and ridiculous throwback to all of the great blaxploitation films of the 1970's. Paying homage to such great films as Shaft, Dolemite, Coffy, and more.

The movie centers around Black Dynamite, an ex-C.I.A. Agent / Vietnam Vet / Kung-Fu Master / Pimp / Everyday Bad Ass, who is pulled back in the game when the mob kills his brother and puts the dope on the streets. So Black Dynamite is forced to take down the mob and clean up the ghetto. On his quest for vengeance we discover that the treachery runs far deeper then we ever could imagine. Black Dynamite must take his fight from the streets all the way to the top, even if that means taking on The Man himself in the white halls of the Honky House.

The film is not only an homage to the stories and themes of blaxploitation films, but also how they where made and the culture behind the genre in a whole. Top-notch crews with million dollar budgets never made these types of movies. Often blaxploitation films, like any other exploitation genre of the 70's, were filled with botched shots, boom mics, and stiff acting. From the beginning all exploitation films existed simply to sell tickets and make money. Usually, for the audience, this meant a poster that was far more exciting then the movie itself. Despite that fact Black Dynamite definitely delivers on what it advertises. The film is able to use all of these unfortunate elements intentionally and create subtle and at times not so subtle laughs. A good example of this is a scene early on in the film where Black Dynamite is giving a long monologue and a boom mic pops in the shot just above his head. As the scene plays out the cameraman even attempts to adjust the shot to try and hide the mic, possibly making it worse. Dynamite continues on with his speech as if nothings wrong, until he's almost finished and he quickly glances at it, then he proceeds to finish as if he's seen noting at all.

The key factor about all of these gags is that all of the actors/characters play it completely straight from beginning to end without skipping a beat. This is a spoof, in the vein of films like Young Frankenstein or Airplane!, that doesn't let the cast in on the joke. The movie plays out as if it's your typical 70's revenge flick. So you end up feeling as if the film was just unearthed after being lost for thirty years or so and you accept it. In the end this is what keeps the movie fresh and the audience wanting more. Most spoof movies that go in the other direction, ending up with a movie filled with a series of gags that feel contrived and completely take you out of the movie (see Disaster Movie or Meet the Spartans). Here you're with Black Dynamite all they way to the end no matter what.

The cast of characters in the film might even be crazier then the films itself. With names like Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson), Chocolate Giddy-Up (Cedric Yarbrough), and Tasty Freeze (Arsenio Hall) you know you're in for a wild ride. All the supporting characters feel authentic and bring much needed humor to a world filled with kung-Fu treachery and smack addicted orphans. Though, when it comes down to it this is a one-man show and Michael Jai White, who is also a co-writer on the film, gives an outstanding performance as our main man Black Dynamite. In order for this movie to work Black Dynamite needed to live up to the hype it created. Like the trailer says, "he's tougher then Shaft, Superfly, and the Mack all put together". White definitely pulls it off; creating a character that you love and believe without a doubt could take King Kong in a fistfight and not even break a sweat. White really shines in this movie and I hope it leads to more leading roles for him.

One last thing that can't be overlooked about this film is the soundtrack by Adrian Younge, who came out of nowhere and created a very convincing 1970's soundtrack. The best thing about the soundtrack is that it feels vintage fitting right in with similar soundtracks from the 70's, but at the same time remains fresh and doesn't seem to rip-off anything specific. He hits all the right notes and keeps true to that retro 70's beat. The majority of films today wish they had a soundtrack half as good as Black Dynamite.

If you enjoy the exploitation films of the 70's or movies like Army of Darkness and Grindhouse you're going to love this movie. Though if you're a film-goer who can't stand movies with a ridiculous premise you'll want to avoid this one, but for those that do your going to have a blast. Unfortunately Black Dynamite has only opened in a few cities so far keep an eye out for it, hopefully it will get a wider release in the weeks to come. This is definitely one of those movies that benefits from viewing it with an audience so if it's in your town be sure to run out and see it. Can you dig it?

Recommended Flicks: Shaft (1971) | Dolemite (1975) | Truck Turner (1974) | Coffy (1973) | Hammer (1972) | Magnum Force (1973) | The Last Dragon (1985) | I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) | Enter the Dragon (1973)
Best spoof since airplane!10/10
This film reduced me to tears of laughter. I've just returned home from seeing it at the Edinburgh film festival and can honestly say this is one of the best movies i've seen this year. I could just list all of the best bits of the movie in this review, but i'd rather you all just went to see it for yourselves.

As a parody/homage of the blaxploitation movies of the 70's, this is perfect. If I didn't know better, i'd think this was actually made in the 70's. Its full of cool little details, the decor, the fashion, the hair styles, the Isaac Hayes/Curtis mayfield style music that details the plot in the lyrics (sometimes scene specific), the grainy picture and the intentionally dodgy camera-work, crash zooms, boom mics in shot etc. During the fight scenes, Michael jai white's kung fu yell is a spot on impersonation of Jim Kelly's (he of Enter the Dragon fame).

Like all the best spoofs, all the actors play it completely straight. White is perfectly cast as Black Dynamite, and if there is any justice in the world, this movie will make him a star. I can almost imagine Samuel L playing this part, but I doubt he could have played it as well as white did. The scene that crystallised his performance for me, was when, during a long speech, a boom mic pops in to shot right next to his face. During the scene, the cameraman is continually trying to adjust the shot to hide the mic. Dynamite continues with his speech as if nothing is going on, but just before he is finished talking, he quickly glances at it, then finishes his speech. The way he plays it is perfect and had everyone in the cinema in fits of laughter.

I said earlier that this is the best spoof since airplane, but I actually think this may be better. In airplane, the jokes were quickfire, but hit and miss, but in black dynamite, every joke hits its mark, and its just as quickfire as airplane. The tone is set pretty quick ( when an undercover agent is caught out cos he cant talk jive properly) and doesn't let up until the credits have rolled. I was still laughing hours after I left the cinema just thinking about it.

Watching this made me wonder how the Austin powers films were such big hits. They were a similar kind of parody but nowhere near as funny, and at the end of the day, aside from a couple of amusing cameos, a one man show (and not a very good one at that). If this doesn't at least do Austin powers numbers, I will be very disappointed, as it deserves the success. Very rarely does a film make me laugh so hard I cry, and this movie did it several times, and its not just me, I think everyone in the cinema had the same experience. Go and see this first chance you get, I cant recommend it enough.
Very funny10/10
I saw this last night and it's the first movie in a long while that hasn't left me feeling ripped off. Thoroughly entertaining and is funniest movie I've seen all year. The movie does what other spoof films haven't done. It's well crafted and thought out and shows a great attention to detail. The camera work is great, music is well chosen, the backgrounds and venues are authentic, the jokes and dialog are funny, Michael Jai White and the supporting cast are great. I saw a trailer earlier this summer but had forgotten about the movie until I read a magazine interview with White discussing the movie. It's a shame there isn't more publicity behind this movie. This film will surely be a cult classic in the same line as Pulp Fiction.
Rocky Horror, Look Out10/10
I had the great good pleasure of experiencing the full force of Black Dynamite at a midnight showing (at the Castro...one of The Last Great Movie Palaces). I had high expectations going in (based on the YouTube trailer). They were met, exceeded, and blown the F away. I don't remember betting a gut busted so hard in ages.

BD is an absolutely perfect movie. It somehow manages to be a parody and the thing that it is parodying at the same time. You are watching this alternate universe (a fantasy of the 70s, filtered through the lens of Blaxploitation) and the characters are REAL and they believe in the fantasy. But you are also constantly reminded that you are watching a FILM, an intentionally bad one at that. All the things professional filmmakers try to avoid, they do on purpose: Boom mike hitting actor's head, obvious continuity errors, reusing the same shot to save money (exploding car flying off cliff), replacing a stunt actor in mid-sequence... The effect is delightful and hilarious.

Kudos to the crew and actors for really "getting it" and going for it. (I think the only movie I've seen recently where the actors were having so much fun was Tropic Thunder.)

Oh, and the soundtrack; Man, I need to get me some of dat.