Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Dynamite

On November 20, I caught the midnight showing of Black Dynamite (2009) at the Castro. The film was scheduled for 11:59 PM but was late to start so technically it was November 21. The screening was sponsored by the Oakland Underground Film Festival. I would guess there were over 500 people in the audience - several in period costumes. Many people had gained admittance with a printed piece of paper so I wonder if there was a promotion that I wasn't aware of. The film starred Michael Jai White who said a few words before the screening. Tommy Davidson, Arsenio Hall, Nicole Sullivan and John Salley were also in the film but hard to recognize under their afros and 70's garb.

The film was a throwback to 70's blaxpoitation films like Shaft, Foxy Brown, etc. The plot isn't important but to summarize, Black Dynamite (the name of the lead character) is an ex-CIA assassin. His brother is killed in a drug deal gone bad so Black Dynamite (BD) kicks ass in da hood (I think they called it the ghetto back then) to find out who killed his brother. After beating every pimp and drug dealer (not to mention bedding dozens of women), BD finds out that the government is selling Anaconda Malt Liqour and lacing it with chemicals that "shrink black men's dicks." Actually, they showed a man's penis after copious consumption of Anaconda - I didn't think it wasn't that small.

Anyway, the film switches to kung fu throwback because there is some evil Chinese doctor that is producing the chemicals. After kicking Chinese ass, BD goes to take on the man ultimately responisible for Anaconda Malt Liquor - President Richard Nixon. Tricky Dick proves surprisingly adept with nunchucks but BD gets him to change his evil ways. Pat Nixon, on the other hand, seemed to be sexually aroused when she got bitch slapped by BD.

That's enough about the plot because this film is all about bitches, hoes, bruthas & sistas with big afros, ass kicking, bell bottom pants, leisure suits, synthetic fabrics, the origins of Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, sticking it to The Man and unprotected sex with multiple partners.

It's hard to criticize a film like this because it is over the top satire. I wished they dialed it back a little, played it straight up and let the humor come from the societal anachronisms. Black Dynamite was more like Undercover Brother and I wish it would have been more like Quentin Tarantino say - the humor coming from the absurdity of the situations but the characters remaining true to their surrounding and not giving the slightest hint of the fourth wall or what they are satirizing. I will say that cinematographer Shawn Maurer nailed the 70's film stock look - flat images without sharp defintions.

Left to right: Nicole Sullivan, Michael Jai White and Salli Richardson-Whitfield in Black Dynamtie

No comments: