The Film Machete Wishes It Was…

Black Dynamite (15) Dir: Scott Sanders (2009)

Take note Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. If you want to make a really faithful and heartfelt homage to the exploitation movies of the 70s, do it like Black Dynamite. True, Q and R’s Grindhouse was refreshing when seen as it should have been (trimmed down cuts of Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror back-to-back with fake trailers included), but as they were split up, beefed up, trailers removed and released separately, both individual films felt flabby and disappointing.

Black Dynamite is no such disappointment. In fact, quite the opposite. With no “stars” to sell it and no big name director behind it (Sanders only previous directorial effort was 1999’s The Last Bandit starring Alec Baldwin before his comeback!), you’d be forgiven for having low expectations. Early on, however, the film shows it is serious about its intentions; and those intentions are to make you laugh, and be gloriously entertaining.

Michael Jai White is sensational as Black Dynamite, an ex-CIA man forced to return to crimefighting after his brother is killed by The Man. As quick with a quip as he is with his nunchucks, Black Dynamite leaves the bad guys on the floor and the ladies satisfied!

The plot is bonkers from the start and goes even further out-there as the film goes on, but it’s really just an excuse for crazy set-pieces and White to show off his genuinely incredible martial arts skills. In a great sequence, Dynamite takes out a killer dressed as a donut (when asked how he knew it was a henchman Dynamite retorts, “Donut’s don’t wear alligator shoes!”).The dialogue is truly memorable, and utterly hilarious. Any film that includes the line, “your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrifications is only outmatched by your zest for kung-fu treachery” has got to be a winner.

As crazy and bad-ass as the whole thing is, the real triumph is the genuine affection the filmmakers have for the material they’re spoofing. This isn’t like the Scary Movie franchise or the woeful Date/Epic/Disaster Movies, that poke nasty fun at their targets, whilst remaining painfully unfunny. Black Dynamite is a love letter to the Coffy‘s, Foxy Brown‘s and Women In Chains‘ of the 1970s; complete with bad acting, visible boom-mikes and even it’s own hilarious fake trailer.

By Mark Elms

©  2011

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