Written by: Carroll Jenkins on February 25th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2009
Director: Scott Sanders
Writers: Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, Scott Sanders
Cast: Michael Jai White, Obba Babatundé, Kevin Chapman, Tommy Davidson, Richard Edson, Arsenio Hall, Darrel Heath, Buddy Lewis, Brian McKnight, Byron Minns, Phil Morris, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Nicole Ari Parker, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, John Salley, Mike Starr
DVD released: February 16th, 2010
Approximate running time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English. Dolby Digital Stereo French
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French
DVD Release: Sony Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.94
Synopsis: Soul brother Black Dynamite is an ex CIA agent whose martial art skills are bested only by his macho mojo with the ladies. When his brother gets killed he goes on an epic search to crush those responsible.
This is the ultimate in-joke film homage. It’s hard to imagine anyone enjoying it on any level unless they have seen ten or more Blaxploitation films (though the IMDB indicates otherwise), but if you have, this is a masterwork. The single most important influence is undoubtedly That Man Bolt, one of the later but greater films in the cycle, but The Mack also casts a strong reflection.
Michael Jai White plays the titular character perfectly straight, and much of the humor is rather understated, such as poorly matched stock footage or a topless mama that looks just like Pam Grier (but not in the face so much). There’s lots of foul language, sexual humor, and outrageous clothes and sets that are a definite nod to Truck Turner, and White’s martial art skills and his cadaver cool demeanor take Jim Kelly’s Williams character from Enter The Dragon and give him the starring role.
The supporting cast is exceptional, and most every character gets an opportunity to strut their stuff. There are several exciting cameo appearances as well, including Roger Yuan (Shanghai Noon) as Fiendish Dr. Wu, Mike Starr (Ed Wood, Goodfellas) as a wise guy, and Arsenio Hall as Tasty Freeze.
Available on DVD and BluRay in 1:85 widescreen – some of the time. The aspect ratio jumps around including split screen and Cinerama, just as print quality changes from fine to funky. Speaking of funky, the original soundtrack is an excellent accompaniment with lots of wah wah pedal.
Black Dynamite is a film that strives to recreate the 70’s grindhouse experience and actually succeeds: other exceptional and rare examples of this phenomenon include Viva! (skin flicks) and A Gun For Jennifer (female vigilante rape revenge). The lesser examples are conspicuous in their absence.