"Black Dynamite" first came on my radar as an extended, uncensored preview around a year ago. My interest was highly piqued at the sight of what looked to be a well-crafted parody of blaxploitation films. Fast-forward to now and I had nearly forgotten all about this movie until saw the ad for it at the local grindhouse theater. With two viewings of "Black Dynamite" in all his funky glory under my belt in less than a week, I'm declaring the film without hesitation, one of the best films of 2009 and an outright funny comedy which has plenty of laughs in store for viewers that it kept hidden from the trailers.
Our title hero is played by Michael Jai White, who is familiar to most audiences as Gambol, the gangster who was asked the immortal question, "Why so serious?" in 2008's "The Dark Knight." Other viewers may be familiar with Mr. White from the late 90s adaptation of Todd McFarlane's "Spawn" where he brought that character to life in a film utterly devoid of a quality script or competent supporting cast. White brings to the table here a brilliant script and performance of a lifetime as a no-nonsense, alpha male who will not tolerate dealing smack in the orphanage.
Whether you've seen a blaxploitation film or not is irrelevant, "Black Dynamite" makes sure you'll be laughing from start to finish and easily stands on its own as a straight comedy. However, as it is a spoof of a well-known film genre, the script's intelligence takes center stage. Name almost any well-known blaxploitation film and I can say with confidence, "Black Dynamite" pays tribute to it while, at the same time, exposing the absurd nature of many of these films Mobsters, drug dealers, militants, kung-fu, funky music, and pimps; "Black Dynamite" has it all. White plays it straight throughout, making him the ultimate blaxploitation hero, oblivious to the absurdity that makes up his life.
What is most amazing, aside from White's natural charisma and perfect fit into this universe of films, is the sheer number of bases the film covers. The plot progresses at a solid rate, and despite the film straying into more broad, action genre spoofing in its final act, it never lets up with the humor. The stilted dialogue of the 1970s is taken to the next level and coupled with a standout, original retro soundtrack by Adrian Younge for great effect. The film is flat out, infinitely quotable, and just when you think the best line has been laid down, something else jumps out at you and will leave you with tears in your eyes. Sight gags as broad as a great boom mike gag, to incredibly clever, purposefully poorly edited action sequences help make the film seem like it came out 30 years ago. Director Scott Sanders gives the film a vintage look that is the icing on the cake of bringing the audience into the film.
While White could easily carry the film on his talents alone, his large supporting cast of lesser-known actors all fill the shoes of various genre stereotypes to perfection. No one person tries to showboat and each are given their moments to shine. The end result is a truly satisfying experience and one everyone should be able to experience with a full crowd. Unfortunately, "Black Dynamite" is making his way around the country in smaller venues, but both screenings I've attended roared with laughter from start to finish. Hopefully the film will see great success on DVD and Blu-Ray, because it deserves every ounce.