After a good 20 years of being subjected to unfunny spoofs (usually bearing a Wayans brother in the cast or crew) that specifically target modern mainstream movies that will be forgotten in another two decades, it’s nice to see filmmakers revisiting an older genre that has survived the test of time. Case in point: Black Dynamite, a wild send-up to the classic blaxploitation films of the ‘70s, co-written and starring Michael Jai White.
Paying tribute to almost every single blaxploitation feature ever made, Black Dynamite reminds us of how truly absurd the original classic films often were. In one hilarious scene, an actor accidentally gets slapped in the face during a fight scene, to which an obvious jump-cut replaces him with an even more obvious stuntman. The use of stock footage (much of which is from Al Adamson’s Dynamite Brothers, which was recently roasted in Cinematic Titanic Live: East Meets Watts) is deliberately apparent: in one case, the same car crash is used twice. “Actors” intentionally flub their lines, while a boom mic pops in to get its share of camera time during a tense moment — just like in the good ol’ urban action movies of yesteryear.
Looking better than ever, White attempts to erase the memory of Spawn from our minds by taking us into the jive-talkin’ world of the early 1970s. The mob is moving in. Drugs are being distributed to the kids. But don’t worry, good residents of the ghetto: Black Dynamite (White) is here — ready to kick as much ass as it takes to make the streets safe again via his amazing kung fu skills while he in turn searches for the men responsible for his brother’s murder. Of course, he also finds time to smooth talk a lovely Black Panther named Gloria (Salli Richardson-Whitfield).
Along the way, Black Dynamite learns that a major conspiracy is brewing aimed at the black folk (specifically the men). And so he and his hand-selected gang of pimps and militants (including Byron Minns, Tommy Davidson, and Phil Morris) plan an international invasion to take down the Fiendish Dr. Fu (Roger Yuan, who also served as fight choreographer) — bringing the interchangeable blaxploitation/chop-socky genres together into one crazy mix. A meeting of pimps back in the city gives former late night talk show host Arsenio Hall a chance to revisit his comedic upbringings.