Feature 18 – Black Dynamite (2009)

or “African American Explosive Device!”


Featuring:
  Michael Jai “Spawn” White , Salli “I Am Legend” Richardson-Whitfield , Tommy “In Living Color” Davidson

Director:  Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders

Writers:  Michael Jai “Three Bullets” White , Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders , Byron “BULLHORN!” Minns

Origin: USA

Review_____

How many times have I told you not to call me here and interrupt my KUNG-FU?!”

*The Tomb of Anubis is typed in front of a prerecord studio audience laugh track*

DISCLAIMER: The following review contains uses of racial slurs that are in no way used in a racist fashion. I am not a racist, as I hate people based on their choices and alignments in life. I do not discriminate based on how someone was born, either in their sex, sexuality, skin color, or other genetic factors. These slurs are used not in a hateful format, but in ways to match both the tone of the movie being reviewed and also to address the racist tendencies of others. In other words, if certain words make you uncomfortable, try to mentally censor them as “the ‘n’ word” or whatever makes you feel better rather than sending me hate mail that will be ignored anyway. Thank you.

Black History Month is very divisive. On the one hand, you’ve got racists and equalists who question why black people should get their own dedicated month while white people go unrecognized… hey, dipshits, white history doesn’t get its own month because white history is already celebrated YEAR ROUND – it’s called “History” and it’s taught in 100% of American schools. Maybe you should’ve stayed in yours if you had such a hard-on for honky historia. Twats.

On the other end of the argument, you have those who take offense to February being chosen for Black History Month, because it’s the shortest month of the year, and somehow being denied 2 days (1 on leap years) minimizes the importance of the event… yes, there are people who ACTUALLY take issue on this topic. “Not only does Hispanic History Month get a full 30 days, but it spans September AND October!? What the fuck is that shit about! White people just trying to keep ’em happy so their landscaping costs don’t go up!”. That was an actual quote from a black guy I knew once. Don’t ask who he is, you don’t know him. Stop thinking all black people know each other. That’s racist.

Speaking of divisive black subjects, today’s episode is an homage to/parody of Blaxploitation. For those not in the know of what you should be, Blaxploitation is a style of exploitation movie made popular in the ’70s where the heroes were all strong, cool, bad-ass African-American men and women who fought to save themselves and their communities from the oppression and corruption of rich old white guys and their Uncle Tom lackeys… often with incredibly low production values and actors so green that I’m pretty sure they hired actual hookers, pimps, and hustlers to fill many of the roles. Though many applauded these less-than-fine films for putting those of color front and center while demonizing Whitey as the source of all evil in the world (which he tends to be), there were still plenty of detractors from the black population who didn’t appreciate these movies being made BY old white guys who were only in it for the cash-in, not to give their colored brothers and sisters a fair voice in Tinseltown. A lot of these same detractors REALLY didn’t appreciate that Hollywood was basically just replacing their long time caricatures of fat lipped, nappy-haired, watermelon munching niggers with new afro sporting, pimp coated, whore slapping, malt liquor chugging coon stereotypes. Same old racism, just with a new coat of fried chicken paint to try and appeal to black markets. In capitalism, the only color that matters is green… and sometimes the search for it brings out how truly ignorant the people in charge are.

You can learn more about Blaxploitation movies at your local library! Just go up the librarian, put out your pimp hand, demand that he/she “Lay down some TRUTH!”, and if they don’t immediately put What it Is… What it Was! in your hand, slap that motherfucker silly until they get the message!

Whether you love ’em (like Shaft) or hate ’em (like Jive Turkey), for better or worse Blaxploitation is a benchmark in black history. In honor of that (and since the new site’s reviews only span movies of the current millennium), I considered reviewing Baadasssss! – Mario Van Peebles’ bio-pic/dedication to the genre and the movie that started it, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, starring his poppa Melvin. But, Black Dynamite‘s got Miguel Nunez in it. Miguel Nunez was Spider in Return of the Living Dead. Return of the Living Dead is my favorite zombie movie and Spider was the fucking coolest guy in said movie. Ergo, this complicated math equation’s result = Black Dynamite gets the spot. Maybe next year, Mario. And yes, I’m aware Miguel also starred in Juwana Man, but that’s just a testament to how fantastic he was as Spider. Ergo, shut up.

Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) isn’t just our title, it’s also our hero’s name. BD (because it’ll save my fingers from having to type “Black” or “Dynamite” for the rest of this review) is harder than a petrified redwood and smoother than one of your momma’s milkshakes. He’s all four heroes of One Down, Two to Go rolled into one with a pinch of Dolemite on top. He’s a veteran of ‘Nam (“and all the dead Chinamen we left in our tracks”), a former agent for the CIA, and a lover of ladies all sizes and colors. Hell, the first time we meet him he’s running a reverse gangbang on a veritable Benaton ad’s worth of cumly coital cuddlers all shades of the racial rainbow! And, as was the style of his cinematic brothers of the time, BD is a practitioner of the deadly martial arts of Ghetto-Fu, crackin’ cracker skulls with his nunchucks of class warfaring black rage! He takes no shit, whether from pimps, pushers, hustlers, punks, thugs, government goons, ninjas, or the oldest of old ladies! He’s blacker than the ace of spades (yeah, that just put Lemmy into my head too), and more militant than your WHOLE damn army!… of course, it’s a lot easier to beat up the bad guys when they stick to the movie trope of only attacking the hero one-at-a-time rather than swarming him with their overwhelming numbers… Anyway, BD is basically the extreme amalgamation of Blaxploitation protagonists you’d expect from a ramped up slapstick parody such as this.

When BD’s little bro Jimmy, a former heroin addict, ends up dead in a drug deal gone further south than Br’er Rabbit, their aunt makes it none too subtle a point to remind BD that he promised their momma on her death bed that he’d take care of diminutive sibling James. Looks like getting Jimmy clean and off of la cheval wasn’t enough though, cuz now that he (and his weird snobbish English accent) have been murdered, it’s BD’s job to put the smack down on the smack dealers responsible. First on his list? Local drug kingpin Rafelli (played by perpetual movie goomba Mike Starr, the “gas man” from Dumb & Dumber), whom our hero gets to by shaking down local info sources with names like Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson) and Chicago Wind (Mykelti Williamson). Though Raf’s comeuppance montage is disappointingly short compared to the time spent finding him, his end is just the beginning of our hero’s journey. With the big man in town taken down, Black Dynamite and his collected crew of good guys uncover a 7 layer bean dip of craziness, with each layer crazier than the last! All I’ll say is that a global conspiracy is unmasked meant to take down the pride of every black man, and it touches on BD’s time in both ‘Nam and the CIA… oh, and it involves a shitload of fucking complicated Greek mythology and astrology, and the Great Emancipator himself! DY-NO-MITE! DY-NO-MITE!

There is a LOT going on in Black Dynamite, but since it comes in just under my 5 year moratorium on spoilers, I won’t say anymore than I already have. Suffice it to say that I’ve barely scratched the surface of what turns out to be a VERY thick watermelon… that wasn’t racist, it was a joke made within the tone of the movie! Shut up. Anyway, there’s SO much material on display here, it’s almost too much. Movies need rest periods to give the audience a chance to catch a breather, lest they suffocate. Though these cool down scenes do happen, the first 35-45 minutes lay it on a bit heavy with everything that gets stuffed into them. The whole thing is a great joke, but the joke needs to be a little better paced in the first half. I felt like I needed an intravenous Red Bull feed and a Speedball or two to keep up before finally turning the movie off entirely and coming back to it later. Maybe I’m just too old, or maybe I’m just not the best target for the “keep the joke running so long that it stops being funny, then push it even longer until it just becomes funny again” method of mirth.

Either way, Black Dynamite is still incredibly funny and incredibly well produced. Unlike the Grindhouse homages from the recent past (Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete, etc.) Dynamite doesn’t embrace just the motif, but also keeps its setting planted firmly in the era of the movies it mimics. So, rather than be a modern movie shot through a crap filter for camp value, it feels more like a legit Blaxploitation flick. That legitimacy is faked with sepia filters, audio skips, boom mics, actors looking into the camera or at off-screen distractions, fight bloopers, out-of-focus shots, over-explained plot points, gibberish jive talk, excessive use of racial slurs (well, that’s pretty common in today’s actual movies, to be honest), a soundtrack of songs that narrate what you’re watching, and even poorly read lines kept from their first takes because film was too expensive to waste. It’s a production by people who obviously love the genre it spoofs and made sure to cover all the bases.

The cast is also great. Michael Jai White flexes his funny bone and gives me something to remember him by other than playing Spawn as he spews a near endless barrage of quotable lines in the guise of Black Dynamite, while co-writer Byron Minns shines diamond-like as BD’s boisterous rhyming sidekick Bullhorn! Although BD is the star and thus gets all the best dialogue and action, Bull gets an awesome slew of great moments of his own, mostly for flubbing lines that go nowhere, but get delivered with this ridiculous energy and enthusiasm that leave you no choice but to love the guy! I love you, Bullhorn! YEAH! Even the movie’s cameos are great! I mean, I’m not a big fan of Tommy Davidson or Arsenio Hall, but Cedric Yarborough (Reno 911!), Irwin Keyes (Charles Band’s Oblivion duology), and Phil Morris are always fun to see. And as mentioned before, I can’t not like a Miguel Nunez appearance. And when his character’s a pimp named Mo Bitches who makes prostitution jokes? Sold.

In a world where I’m Gonna Git You Sucka exists, is Black Dynamite really necessary? Yes. Yes it is. In fact, it more than earns a slot on a double bill with the Keenan Ivory Wayans classic. Despite the collective professional inexperience of its writers, Black Dyanmite deserves a place amidst the best movies of guys like Mel Brooks and Jim Abrahms and the Zuckers. But not Pat Proft, because he wrote The Star Wars Holiday Special and that’s punishable by being drawn and quartered in some countries. Will we ever see a Black Dynamite 2: the Blackening/Electric Jiggaboogaloo/the Legend of Jheri Curly’s Gold? I don’t know. Given that the movie did manage to spawn (no Michael Jai White pun intended) a cartoon series, and given the lengths of hilarious overkill said series took our titular hero to, I think BD has gone as far as he can go, really. And that’s fine. After all, look at what happened with Austin Powers. After three of those Mike Myers lost his mind and made The Love Guru just to make people hate him so they’d stop begging him to do more Austin Powers sequels! No, let’s not go overboard. Let’s leave the Black Dynamite legacy as it stands and just enjoy it this way: in its purest, blackest form. It’ll give you a zest for some kung-fu treachery!

Happy Black History month, everybody! Now, I’ve gotta go solicit a miner for our next episode, so you go watch Amistad or Glory or Roots or Ghost Dad or something. But no Tyler Perry movies! That’s racist.

Moral(s) of the Story: Black Dynamite is a bevy of educational content. Here are just a few of the valuable lessons to be learned by ALL races from this movie:

  • You haven’t reached the apex of societal status until you’ve got an 8 Track player in EVERY ROOM.
  • Donuts don’t wear alligator shoes. If you see one as such, shoot it without question.

  • Waffles are like Xanax for irate black men… thus I now suspect Leslie Knope is a secret black man.

  • Black dudes LOVE Greek & Romanc mythology. They know that shit like the lyrics to the Commodores catalog!

  • Abraham Lincoln was so hardcore about watching the black man’s back, that he’s still doing it from beyond the grave!

  • When you pop the top, the panties drop!… unless you’re popping Top Pop Blue Pop, in which case I will break your fingers if you don’t hand it over. That stuff’s my crack. I’ve been dry for 15 years, but I will turn like a lycanthrope in the light of a full moon if I ever see it again.

Screenshots_____

You know those times where you’re REALLY hoping that the people around you don’t realize you’re the one who farted? They know.
If Tom Atkins and Kurtwood Smith had a baby.


An old woman somewhere is going cold this winter… a very tall old woman.


Those scrolls? They all say “Made in China. May contain dangerous levels of lead.”


“Who? Okay, hold on. Let me check. ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’? ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’?! Awwww, why can’t I find Amanda Huggenkiss?!”


And number one on this week’s Threatdown? BEARS! AND THEY’RE ALIGNING WITH BLACK MILITANTS! All white people and salmon, run for the hills! Wait! Not the hills! There are BEARS there! Ahhhhh!


Normally I have to say NO to ascots. But, damn it, I love you Bullhorn!


You may be afraid of his fist, but you SHOULD be afraid of the other fist he’s got hidden in his mustache. Hits WAY harder than the one in Chuck Norris’ beard.


“Sorry my brothers, but ever since Disney bought Marvel, they’ve been threatening to sue us if we don’t change our name. Now, we can fight the Man, but we can’t go to war with Disney. If we publicly announce that we’re the African-American Panthers now, they’ll call off their lawyers.”


She’s a liberated, modern woman. She doesn’t carry feminine trappings like a purse. She keeps her keys and other necessities in her hair.


After taking in a down-on-his-luck Bullhorn, Black Dynamite comes home to discover a very angry looking dump left on his favorite area rug. Looks like somebody’s going back to the shelter!


Poor kid just got a whiff or Dynamite’s mustache.


David Hyde Pierce’s post-“Frasier” career just isn’t working out like he’d hoped.


“Citizens need not fear though, as Mayor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has vowed to ‘Layeth more smack down’ in coming weeks.”


Looks like this guy also got a whiff of BD’s mustache.


The “worst nightmare” scenario for any member of the Republican party.


Don’t worry Dynamite, EVERY guy makes that face when he watches a live birth. We don’t think you any less of a man.

Anubis will return next time in
“Miner Indiscretions”

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