DVD Pick: Black Dynamite
This week, one of my favorite movies of last year, and the funniest comedy I’ve seen since Anchorman came out on DVD and Blu-ray. That movie is Black Dynamite, a brilliant spoof of ‘70s blaxploitation films, starring Michael Jai White as the title character, a kung fu-fighting former CIA agent out to avenge his little brother’s death at the hands of mob drug dealers, eventually cracking a huge conspiracy involving tainted malt liquor and climaxing in a final confrontation so awesome and hilarious that I can’t even tell you who he fights at the end, lest I spoil one of the funniest jokes in the entire movie.
Now, I should tell you that an appreciation for blaxploitation movies is not a prerequisite for enjoying Black Dynamite. I’m pretty unfamiliar with the genre myself, my experience limited to seeing Shaft when I was a teenager, and catching bits of Dolemite when I was in university; the bulk of my knowledge about blaxploitation comes from Keenan Ivory Wayans’ 1988 spoof of the genre, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (which this movie trumps in every way imaginable). Black Dynamite is just a hilarious movie that anyone who’s spent any time laughing at poorly-made genre movies (horror, action, sci-fi, etc.) can appreciate. Whether it’s boom microphones in the shot or a bad supporting “actor” who reads his stage directions in addition to his lines or poorly edited car chases, Black Dynamite is a wonderful satire of bad movies made by enthusiastic people.
Michael Jai White, who’s been toiling away in small roles in big movies (The Dark Knight, that awesome deleted scene in Kill Bill Vol. 2) or big roles in small movies (replacing Ving Rhames in the low-budget sequel Undisputed 2, which is actually a fun little martial arts flick), usually plays intense, scary dudes, and it was a revelation to see how funny he is. (He came up with the idea for the character when James Brown’s ‘Superbad’ came on his iPod while he was filming Undisputed 2.) He wrote a screenplay with director Scott Sanders and co-star Byron Minns based on a fake trailer they threw together, and the indie comedy was eventually bought by Sony. It saw a limited theatrical release, but home video is where great little comedies like this find their audiences, and I suspect Black Dynamite will find a cult following pretty fast. It’s a hilarious satire of low-budget genre movies filled with wonderfully authentic and hysterical music (my favorite sequence in the entire movie is probably the ‘Cleaning Up The Streets’ montage; Black Dynamite has the funniest montages since Team America) that any movie buff will be able to appreciate. I’ve watched Black Dynamite probably a dozen times now, and it still hasn’t gotten old. If you only watch one movie this year based on my recommendation, make that movie Black Dynamite.
Labels: comedy, DVD, indie cinema