Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I think I can actually stop watching movies now my friends. About a year and half ago I saw the trailer for this movie ‘Black Dynamite’ and to say the least, my anticipation factor was high. It was so high in fact I was fairly certain that there was no way that this movie could meet my high anticipation. It also called to mind that I also had a fairly high anticipation factor for the spoof ‘Date Movie’, a flick that almost made stop watching movies for different reasons after I got the chance to see that horrific excuse for a comedy. So after being mercilessly teased with trailers, film festivals that I wasn’t invited to, a smattering of theatrical showings that somehow missed Detroit and screeners that were sent out to folks on a list that someone forgot to put me on, of all people, only by a chance trip to Chicago for a completely unrelated issue did I finally get to see ‘Black Dynamite’. And I have to say that it surpassed, by far, even my lofty expectations for this film.

Without spending too much time describing this instant classic Michael Jai White is Black Dynamite, a former CIA badass and current every day super badass who is out to avenge the murder of his brother Jimmy, stop The Man from pushing his smack into the ghetto orphanages and ultimately stop The Man, and we’re talking about The Man from the very top, from his ultimate plan to destroy the Black Man. And his plan is a nefarious one.

So I finish watching ‘Black Dynamite’ directed by Scott Sanders and written by Mr. Sanders, Michael Jai White and Brian Mims and found it to be absolute revelation of cinematic greatness. So I’m off to tell the world what a great movie this is, but I’m late into this game because others have seen this movie way in advance than I have and surely they have already extolled on the greatness that is ‘Black Dynamite’. But this would not be the case. There are those who have seen this movie and some of these people didn’t care for this movie all that much. At first I found this perplexing, just as I found it perplexing that there were film critics out there that didn’t like ‘Finding Nemo’. What kind of horrible person wouldn’t like ‘Finding Nemo’? But after I examined this for a bit it does make some sense. Not the ‘Finding Nemo’ thing because you seriously need therapy if you didn’t like ‘Finding Nemo’ but the lack of consensus love for ‘Black Dynamite’.

What Scott Sanders has created is not really a spoof, but a genuine, authentically bad Blaxploitation movie. This is a film that was created by people who understand the Blaxploitation genre down to its most minute detail. I think to truly appreciate this movie, I mean really, really appreciate what the filmmakers were trying to do… you have to completely understand the genre. As a child of the 70’s I was pretty much raised on these movies. Should a six year old be sitting in theater watching ‘Superfly’? Probably not but this was the 1970’s and 70’s era parents didn’t have all that new fangled research at their disposal. So as a child I saw more than my fair share of these movies with my older brother taking to me those that even my parents couldn’t tolerate. So naturally what we remember as children becomes cherished nostalgia as we become adults and as such I possess a fairly large Blaxploitation collection on DVD and VHS.

The leads us to the problem with ‘Black Dynamite’, this being that it might be too well done and too authentic and thus its audience target is probably way too narrow. If you’ve never seen a Blaxploitation movie and you go to see ‘Black Dynamite’ I can see where one might think that this is simply stupid nonsense. Or let’s say that your definition of Blaxploitation is ‘Shaft’. Well, ‘Shaft’ isn’t really true Blaxploitation. ‘Petey Wheatstraw’, ‘Thomasine and Bushrod’, ‘Three the Hard Way’… those are true Blaxploitation films. For instance in ‘Three the Hard Way’, in summary, The Man has genetically re-engineered the water supply to kill only Black people. Sure that’s crazy but that’s Blaxploitation baby. Or in that same movie watch Jim Brown chase some jive sucka down the street while wearing sneakers only to catch him and magically be sporting his gators again. Or take ‘Black Belt Jones’ in which Jim Kelly’s character was only addressed as Black Belt which had me wondering did his mom actually name him this. Well, in ‘Black Dynamite’ this question is answered because apparently his mom did name him that. Also in ‘Black Belt Jones’ if you were bad guy you exited the room through a plate glass window. All the time. All of this nonsense and so much more was in this movie.

Then there are the actors, the vast majority of whom are also children of the 70’s with every single one of them playing this thing pitch perfect. Observe Myketi Williamson as Chicago Wind or Salli Richardson as Gloria threatening to hold back her ‘cookie’ on Black Dynamite. Half the fun is trying to figure out who these actors are playing the pimps, ho’s, and revolutionaries. I’m still trying to figure out where Brian McKnight was.

A friend asked me do you have to be Black, in addition to being alive during the 70’s to enjoy this movie. Oh good heavens no, though it probably wouldn’t hurt. For instance my best friend in the fourth grade was Kevin Lunday, who was white, and as such I don’t think his parents loaded the kids in the car and said ‘Hey kids! We’re going to the cine to see ‘Boss Nigger!’ Now in all honestly there was no way in HELL my parents were going to allow me to see a movie called ‘Boss Nigger’ either, even in the 1970’s, but I’m just using that as an example. Thus it would’ve been contingent on Kevin and all you young’uns out there to get their Blaxploitation groove going on later in life, which we have already pointed is probably a prerequisite to fully enjoying this movie.

‘Black Dynamite’ has the dangerous potential to becoming my ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’. I always thought it was inanely stupid to go see the same movie over and over again while dressing up as the movie characters… but not so much anymore. My apologies you Rocky Horror freaks, I can see where you’re coming from now. Are there better movies out there than ‘Black Dynamite’? Of course there are, but I have never had as much fun at the show as I had at this show. Never ever.

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