Black Dynamite (2009)

Black Dynamite (2009)

Black Dynamite is a 21st Century homage/parody of the classic Blaxsploitation genre of cinema, a genre set in 1970’s America focused around stereotypical African-American culture at that time: pimps, bitches, crackers and sweet 70’s disco music. Throughout the entire film, Black Dynamite pays homage to classic Blaxsploitation movies such as Dolemite, Shaft, Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song and The Last Dragon. The film stars action film/kung fu legend Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Dark Knight) as the legendary one man army Black Dynamite: one mean motherfucker who fights to avenge the death of his brother Jimmy and save America from the smack epidemic.

Let me begin by stating that, even for an action film, Black Dynamite is completely silly, over-the-top ridiculousness. Black Dynamite is fit to burst with shootouts, kung-fu fight scenes, explosions and nun-chuck knockouts, and each action scene is expertly choreographed and shot perfectly, allowing the viewer to clearly see each impressive scene of blood pumping action. The film incorporates a lot of humor with the action scenes to break up the explosive sequences, and each joke is a hilariously funny addition to stop the action from becoming too overwhelming.

However, Black Dynamite is an incredibly fast paced film, it doesn’t hold on a joke, or pause on a specific moment to allow the audience to take in what has just occurred onscreen, but the film goes straight on to the next scenes of fist-fighting and defenestration. Unfortunately, this frantic pacing comes with it’s own flaws. There are points where the film really feels like it needs to slow down to let the viewer enjoy the joke, or the explosive set piece, but the film never slows down. The plot is also far too big for the film’s running time, and many important plot points are wrapped up in a matter of seconds, thus making the story feel incredibly underwhelming. I think that if the story was broken up into separate films, or if the film itself was longer,  Black Dynamite could have given more time for an audience to appreciate the film’s quirky sense of humor and love for exciting action scenes, and the experience of watching the film would have been better overall.

However, Black Dynamite definitely deserves credit for nailing the 1970’s Blaxsploitation aesthetic: the outlandish costumes, funky hair styles, and impressively detailed sets are all reminiscent of 1970’s African-American disco culture. Also, the language used by each and every character pays respects to Dolemite’s signature vocabulary: full of “jive turkey” insults, “outta sight” compliments, and other outdated cliches. Apart from the odd sepia color pallet, Black Dynamite definitely succeeded in nailing each and every trope of Blaxsploitation cinema.

All in all, Black Dynamite is a very entertaining romp through classic Blaxsploitation cinema. The film has a very silly sense of humour and rejoices in it’s cinematic hedonism: studly men, attractive women, frantic action scenes, funny sequences, there’s really too much going on in the film to talk about each and every aspect without spoiling the experience. Black Dynamite is a welcome addition to the New Wave Of Exploitation Cinema, a movement started by the Tarantino/Rodriguez project Grindhouse in 2007. Black Dynamite shows that there is still a place for Blaxsploitation films in 21st century cinema.

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