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Movie Review: Black Dynamite

Nervously, Scott confronts the blank page and starts writing the Black Dynamite review.

Something I’ve never been able to understand about the 1970s is the mechanics of the ludicrously-sized afro. How did people walk through doors with that on their heads? And I realise it’s not my domain, but I cannot understand why anyone thought the afro was fashionable. The reason I ask is because this is one of the many tendencies of 1970s movies that Black Dynamite exists to parody.

The plot, if you could call it that, doesn’t really matter. The titular Black Dynamite finds out that his brother (played excellently as an obviously out-of-place dealer) was killed and sets out to kill the people responsible. But the plot’s not the main attraction here.

The main attraction is the loving parody that this presents of blaxploitation movies, such as big-afro’d heroes who are also lady-killers, the little heroic theme that kicks in every time he does something cool (the little “Dynamite! Dynamite!” riff will be in your head for ages once you’ve heard it) and the numerous production errors that would sometimes come about as a result of their low budgets and production values. These include an obviously present boom microphone in shot (for extra laughs, you can see Michael Jai White visibly looking at the microphone) and an actor who reads out his stage directions (“sarcastically, I’m in charge”).

Michael Jai White (who, befitting the atmosphere of the movie, is someone I’ve never heard of before this) does a great job of bringing the titular character to life and he treats the role in exactly the right way. He’s very convincing as a lady-killing, ex-CIA agent who busts a master plan (well, as convincing as such a character could possibly be).

However, there are also some less obvious but no less lovely touches, such as the assistant who speaks entirely in rhyme and the deliberately too-exploitative dialogue in Dynamite’s origin story (“See here! I’m 18-year-old Black Dynamite and you’re my 16-year-old kid brother!”). On the subject of dialogue, this movie is eminently quotable, as evidenced by the amount of quotes I’ve used in my review to make points. Once you see this movie, many of the quotes will stick with you. An exchange that has to be seen to be believed is the time (it was about three minutes long) that Dynamite and his posse stumble upon the bad guys’ plan entirely by an incredibly forced series of logical leaps, kicked off by the phrase “melt in your mouth”.

This movie is the kind that rewards you for paying attention, as many of the jokes are sight gags or lines of dialogue that you won’t find funny if you just have the movie playing in the background. This is an absolute must for anyone who likes comedies and parodies along the lines of Airplane! or Blazing Saddles.

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