Black Dynamite is a former Vietnam vet and CIA agent with a license to kill. Seriously, it actually says that. It’s 1972 and this brother is looking out for his neighborhood and his money, and doesn’t like when people mess with either one. When his brother (real, not street) gets killed in an drug deal gone bad with the Italian mob, Black Dynamite vows to take revenge with his gigantic hand cannon and trusty nunchucks. As he fights his way through dozens of foes he uncovers a myriad of conspiracies- someone is trying to get little black orphans hooked on heroin, and exploiting one of the black man’s biggest weaknesses in order to take out their manhood. He follows the conspiracy straight to the top… all the way to the White House.
After that incredible, incredible trailer, there shouldn’t have been a person alive who wasn’t excited about Black Dynamite. Sadly, the film can’t live up to it.
If you go into this movie expecting a riff on blaxploitation… don’t. It’s not. The sense of humor is more in line with a Wayans Brothers spoof than a blaxploitation film. It’s silly beyond belief and patently absurd, and knows that it is.
Sure, it looks like a blaxploitation film with its retro clothes and set design, and especially with all the ridiculous camera zooms and splitscreens. And it certainly sounds like one, especially with its fantastic Black Dynamite theme song that plays everytime he steps into a room (“DY-NO-MITE! DY-NO-MITE!”)
But it doesn’t feel like one. So why bother to even make such an homage?
The biggest problem with the film is that as funny some of the gags are there are just as many that fall flat, if not more. Chicken Waffles? Really?
There’s also no real substance to the film. The barest bit of backstory is given to Black Dynamite, and he’s the main character! You’re given no one to care about, especially since all the sidekicks and villains are fairly interchangeable and forettable. That may sound like a strange complaint in this kind of comedy (one that throws boom mics into frame and features multiple closeup shots of a tiny penis) but it’s what keeps it from being a great and rewatchable film.
That said, Michael Jai White is easily the best part. He gets all the funniest lines (his Vietnam flashback will have you in tears) and the most awesome fights, and of course, all the big titty bitches. He’s the only one that feels like he truly knows what’s going on, and is just incredibly entertaining to watch. His fights are surprisingly well-choreographed, even if you’ll get sick of them by the unfortunately boring ending.
But as eye-rollingly stupid as the film gets it’s hard to hate it. It’s very funny at parts and the action scenes are entertaining enough. For fans of the genre it’s worth a watch- just don’t go into it expecting the second coming of blaxploitation.
7 out of 10