Sitges 09: BLACK DYNAMITE Review

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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Sitges 09:  BLACK DYNAMITE Review

[Yes, we've given this one lots of love already, but with its appearance at the 2009 Sitges Festival I present my review of Black Dynamite once again. The release is just around the corner, get out and see it!]

With Black Dynamite director Scott Sanders and writer-producer-star Michael Jai White have succeeded in doing precisely what Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez promised but failed to deliver with Grindhouse. They have captured the spirit of a long gone era and done so in hugely entertaining fashion. Far too loving to ever descend into spoof or parody territory, Black Dynamite also rises above tribute territory thanks to White's portrayal of the title character. No mere regurgitation or mimicry here, Black Dynamite is strong enough and accurate enough that it could be a lost nugget from the blaxploitation era itself.

Michael Jai White is Black Dynamite: former CIA operative, war veteran and baddest brother on the block. His skills in kung fu are prodigious, his skills with the ladies even moreso. He goes where he pleases, does what and who he wants, and keeps a watchful eye on the weak and powerless, dispensing his brand of strong-arm justice to keep the neighborhood in line. Black Dynamite is the prototypical lone wolf, answering to no one, until his reformed-junkie brother is gunned down by local mafia and he is called back into action by his former CIA partners to bring down those responsible, a mission that leads him to a massive conspiracy to subdue the black population using drugged malt liquor - a conspiracy that reaches all the way up into the White House itself.

No doubt about it, Black Dynamite falls very much at the comedy end of the spectrum, poking very knowledgable fun at the foibles and quirks of the blaxploitation genre. Dialogue is deliberately stilted, boom mikes creep into shots, the musical accompaniment frequently - and hysterically - doubles as narration, and every sort of character stereotype possible is thrown up on screen. In lesser hands this would have come across as ham-fisted parody or - worse - smug superiority but everyone involved here is so knowledgable and respectful of the source material that it's impossible not to get swept up in the spirit of the thing. Do they get the look accurate? Put it this way: several scenes of actual 1970s stock footage are integrated into the film so seamlessly that it's impossible to tell where the original footage ends and the stock footage begins.

Brash, energetic, funky and loaded both with kung fu treachery and guns that never run out of bullets, Black Dynamite is pure entertainment. White is already on record saying that he wants to bring Black Dynamite back for a sequel and in these books that can't happen soon enough.

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More from Around the Web

My interview with Michael Jai White here
Black Dynamite trailers and clips here
Visit the official website

More about Black Dynamite

ricardolessaJanuary 19, 2009 10:55 PM

Uow! it must be awesome! I hope that movie be avaliable in Karagarga untill the last days of January.

Todd, do you know Karagarga?

Baron Von BoogieJanuary 19, 2009 11:58 PM

Right on! I can not wait for this to drop. It looks all like kinds of badass.

Todd BrownJanuary 20, 2009 1:23 AM

Colin and I were talking about it just a couple days ago, actually ... we have rather different opinions.

J HurtadoJanuary 20, 2009 3:53 AM

It sounds like the film is a success to me. I don't doubt that Colin "gets it", but perhaps expected more out of it than the filmmakers intended. Sounds like something I'll love.

Kurt HalfyardJanuary 20, 2009 4:20 AM

(hmm, an obvious analogy is Todd Hayne's "FAR FROM HEAVEN" which may have lead some budding film enthusiasts to the work of Douglas Sirk? Is Far From Heaven particularly innovative or fresh? Nope, bit is a nice sideways glance back at a type of film (Melodrama) that hasn't been done well in a long time. (See also something like Flirting with Disaster or Intolerable Cruelty for raising interest in the equally neglected type of film known as the Screwball Comedy)

snomanJanuary 20, 2009 4:23 AM

wooooo... yeah i'm ready to see this!!! good to see someone who's heart is really there when making a coolass flick like this heheee.. nice interview with MJW as well. keep us informed on when this film is available to us all!!!

J :-P

Colin GeddesJanuary 20, 2009 4:23 AM

Comparing the blaxploitaion genre to Sirk? Not really that obvious! ;)

SwarezJanuary 20, 2009 5:27 AM

Sweeeet. Can't wait to see this.
Rodney wasn't a big fan either.

ChevalierAguilaJanuary 20, 2009 6:28 AM

"My opinion on BD is that it is fun"

More than enough for me.

Rodney PerkinsJanuary 20, 2009 7:35 AM

I think this is little more than a self-aware pastiche of scenes taken from other films (Dolemite, Avenging Disco Godfather) with little, if any, real synthesis of influences.

Kurt HalfyardJanuary 20, 2009 7:43 AM
Entertainment CareersJanuary 20, 2009 12:04 PM

A great review on "The Black Dynamite"

Thanks for posting.

Adam LopezJanuary 21, 2009 5:42 AM

While it may offer nothing new to fans of original blaxploitation films, I still found watching BLACK DYNAMITE a ton of fun compared to most of the stuff that gets churned out for genre fans today, and I am so glad it is going to get a wider release. Hopefully it will still be available for festival screenings this year, as I think festival fans in particular will get a HUGE kick out of it.

ColdNorwayJanuary 22, 2009 2:57 AM

This movie,and Bronson,are the movies I`m most eager to see this year.Sure bigger buget movies like Watchmen and The Spirit are on my must-see list as well,but as a old blaxploitation fan Black Dynamite looks like a fun ride.

loompanixJanuary 26, 2009 7:31 AM

You can't spoof a spoof. I was mildly entertained but largely bored. Michael Jai White should put his talents to doing action films, not one note jokes.