In recommending Black Dynamite, the temptation is to get caught up in the spirit and get silly. Let me go another way, keep it relatively serious, and promise that this is the funniest movie currently playing in any movie theater – that is, unless you’re heading to the multiplex this weekend to make fun of the Michael Jackson people. In that case, you got me. [Note: This piece was originally written the weekend This Was It was released.]
But Black Dynamite is just so consistently funny throughout its running time that I feel compelled to get the word out. I loved this movie. It’s true that my viewing history has somehow been steeped in blaxploitation movies from Shaft to Coffy to Truck Turner to Black Belt Jones, right back to Shaft’s Big Score! and Shaft In Africa – but I don’t think you need a doctorate in blaxploitation to get the jokes here. However, you probably do need an R-rated sense of humor, but you’ll figure that one out pretty quickly, since the first three sets of titties make their collective open-air appearance in the first ten minutes.
As if you needed a story, Black Dynamite is the tale of a real black kung-fu superhero named Black Dynamite (“Dyn-O-mite! Dyn-O-mite!”), created and played brilliantly by underrated action-movie presence Michael Jai White who deserves a skull-crushing franchise and a long career of shitkicking on the merits of this movie alone. Credit also goes to his co-writers Scott Sanders (who directed) and Byron Minns (who also plays Black Dynamite’s sidekick Bullhorn) and to the entire cast and crew who always keep the tricky tone balanced just right.
Black Dynamite is by far the best blaxploitation parody/recreation since I’m Gonna Git You Sucka – appropriately, it finds a welcome return and a chest-burstingly funny role for In Living Color comedian Tommy Davidson as the elevator-shoes-wearing pimp Cream Corn – and it’s the best spoof of inept filmmaking that I can remember seeing.
For the record, though: Not all blaxploitation was as shoddily constructed and acted as Black Dynamite might lead you to believe – sure there were plenty of laughable mis-steps but the genre was often a training ground for some true talents. The jokes in Black Dynamite are funny enough, though, that it’s hardly good form to complain.
This movie is just so full of performances, dialogue, and gags that I completely love – from the pimp summit full of recognizable faces (oh, and “Captain Kangaroo Pimp”), to the secret origin of my favorite restaurant in all of Los Angeles, Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, to the final kung fu fight with a anti-beloved national icon, to the delivery of this line: “But Black Dynamite, I sell drugs to the community”, and right back to those titties – that I could recount it for pages and pages and not get bored. But this is such an impressively-crafted, thoroughly enjoyable movie that I’d rather just stamp it with my highest possible recommendation to see with a crowd, and leave you with the trailer:
And yes, the rest of the movie really is just as good as that trailer promises, if not even better.