Black Dynamite (2009)

Because Donuts Don’t Wear Alligator Shoes.

The inspiration for seeing today’s movie came a good while back, and mostly from the Nerdist podcast.  They did an interview with some of the people involved with this movie, and had previously talked about how funny the movie was.  I put it on my Netflix queue pretty quickly, even though all I knew about the movie gave me no reason I could think of to enjoy it.  I don’t know that I’ve seen a Blaxploitation film before, and it’s also a very fine line to walk to make a movie really bad to call it a comedy.  Sometimes it can be done very well, and sometimes I just think it’s using comedy as an excuse because the movie they made was not actually good (Like Leprechaun: In the Hood).  We’ll find out as I review Black Dynamite, written by Michael Jai White and Byron Keith Minns, directed by Scott Sanders, and starring Michael Jai White, Salli Richardson, Tommy Davidson, Kevin Chapman, Byron Minns, Cedric Yarbrough, Mykelti Williamson, Brian McKnight, Arsenio Hall, Obba Babatundé, Bokeem Woodbine, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Mike Starr, John Salley, and Nicole Sullivan.

The brother of Vietnam veteran and former CIA agent Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) is killed in the streets by a shady organization.  Black Dynamite decides to set out on a crusade of revenge, and to clean up the streets as he does it.  On his journey, he meets up with a black power activist that he gives a certain degree of his affections to named Gloria (Salli Richardson).  Speaking of affections, it turns out that his brother was killed to cover up a plan by “the Man” that would fill the popular Anaconda Malt Liquor with a formula that would shrink the size of all the black men’s penises.  Black Dynamite is the only thing standing between them and the destruction of the entire “Blacks on Blondes” porn series!

This was a really good movie.  Well, technically speaking it was a really bad movie, but they intended to make it as bad as they did for comedic effect, and it definitely worked.  The story is pretty typical Blaxploitation stuff that tends to be pretty ridiculous on its own, but it’s sold by all of the other ridiculous stuff.  The performances are usually over the top, the scenes drag on longer than they should, the characters are ridiculous, and it’s just really funny because of it.  The badness of the movie is an asset, using things like the main character trying and failing to hang up a phone for an extra couple of seconds, a character looks like he really got punched in an action scene and breaks character before an obvious cut gets the action back on, and they take the most ridiculous series of tangents to reach a conclusion, starting with M&Ms and how they melt in your mouth, going through Greek mythology, and somehow ending up at the fact that Anaconda Malt Liquor is going to make the black man’s penis small to defeat them.  One of my favorite parts was when a group was going into a battle situation and one of the characters starts randomly talking about his aspirations for when the revolution is over, talking about how he wants to settle down and be a father, showing a picture of his kid, and he gets expectedly hit with a spear.  Black Dynamite then shouts, “Who saw that coming?  I mean, ‘Who saw where that came from?’”  I also liked when Black Dynamite was fighting with nunchucks and “accidentally” threw them off camera, punched a dude in the head, and then someone off camera threw his nunchucks back to him.  The animated Kama Sutra part that was sold like it was supposed to be a really sweet love making scene was also pretty hilarious.

The performances in this movie deserve about as much credit as the writing and filming process.  Much like the movie Airplane!, the performances in this movie acted like they were not trying to be funny, which just makes everything that much funnier.  Unlike Airplane!, they weren’t acting as if they were in a soap opera, they were just acting like over the top characters from a Blaxploitation movie.  It was all excellent.  Michael Jai White was great, able to do the acting just as well as the action.  I was really happy with all of the cameos in the movie as well.  Tommy Davidson was in this movie, Cedric Yarbrough, Brian McKnight, Arsenio Hall, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Mike Starr, and Nicole Sullivan.  Each one of them had some solid funny parts and made me happy that they even showed their faces in the movie.

Black Dynamite was a lot of fun.  Ridiculous Blaxploitation story that takes full advantage of the generally shoddy filming that was common in those movies, while having the good sense to not have any of the performances act like they were in a comedy.  Let the movie be ridiculous around characters that only seem to be desperately trying to remember their lines and the comedy will be largely amped up.  This is like the Blaxploitation version of the movie Airplane!, and that’s alright by me.  This is definitely a movie that you should check out.  You can’t help but laugh.  I’ll be purchasing this movie as soon as I can find it, but you can find it on Netflix right now.  Black Dynamite gets “I am smiling” out of “Black Dynamite, that was the best loving I ever had.”

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