So once again we have survived.

Vern is down with BLACK DYNAMITE

tn_blackdynamite1I’ve missed some potential good ones at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival, but I was not about to miss the midnight show of BLACK DYNAMITE. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a retro blaxploitation movie where Michael Jai White (also co-writer) plays the title character, an ex-CIA, Vietnam vet, kung fu practicing, five-women-at-a-time-fucking badass motherfucker trying to find out who killed his brother.

Doing a blaxploitation homage in 2009 sounds good on paper, because there are a finite amount of authentic movies of this genre. At a certain point you run out of blaxploitation to watch, and you need more. It never hurts to have backups. But when you think about it there are a million ways for a movie like this to be disappointing or worse. BLACK DYNAMITE has great posters and trailers, but that doesn’t prove anything. For my tastes it’s a fine line to walk. I didn’t want to see something too jokey or spoofy, something that was mocking these movies more than paying tribute to them. And there’s no reason to assume an independent film out of nowhere from filmatists without that much of a track record will capture a vintage blaxploitation feel.

mp_blackdynamiteI could’ve worried about that shit but it would’ve been a waste of time, because BLACK DYNAMITE is pretty god damn spectacular. Yes, it could be accurately described as a parody of the genre, but clearly a loving, even worshipful parody done not by some smarmy assholes who want to laugh at funny old clothes and hairstyles, but by dudes who clearly have passion for and knowledge of the genre and a fetishistic attention to the details that matter.

Somewhere I saw somebody compare this to AUSTIN POWERS. I don’t consider that accurate. Those movies are all about riffing on different comedy concepts within some of the trappings of an old genre. You could say the same for I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA. That was an affectionate blaxploitation homage, but it’s coming up with joke concepts, like “this guy has theme music, so what if we show a band following him around playing his theme music?”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that approach, but I was happy to see BLACK DYNAMITE play it much more straight. The laughs (and there are many) mostly aren’t jokes exactly. They fit within the context of a straight-up blaxploitation movie. Sure, BLACK DYNAMITE knows that its story is getting more and more ridiculous, and purposely has messed up shots and clunky dialogue like “I was the best CIA agent that the CIA ever had in the CIA.” But it never winks at you, never nudges you. It could be the blaxploitation movie they would’ve had on another GRINDHOUSE double feature if the first one hadn’t tanked.

Let me give you one example of why I respect this movie. There’s a scene where Black Dynamite goes to a bar called The Hip Pocket to get some information out of a bunch of hostile dudes in Rudy Ray Moore style velvet hats. They’re not helping much so he turns around to head for the door, and they taunt him to his back about never coming back to the Hip Pocket again. But they shut up real quick when he flips the sign on the window to “closed” and shuts the gate. He’s not leaving, he just wants some privacy while he beats them silly.

See, that’s not a joke – that’s a genuine Badass Cinema moment. You don’t do that in AUSTIN POWERS or I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA. White and director/co-writer Scott Sanders can get laughs by exaggerating the plot of THREE THE HARD WAY and imitating the sloppy filmatism of the Rudy Ray Moore pictures, but it’s clear that they also sincerely appreciate and want to re-create the badass screen presence of Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly. In UNDERCOVER BROTHER, even in DOLEMITE, you laugh at the idea of the hero kicking ass. You don’t laugh at Black Dynamite. When he kicks people through walls you laugh not because it’s a joke but because it’s awesome. He is not a parody of awesome, he actually is awesome.

I gotta admit that it crosses the line into straight comedy about 2/3 in when Black Dynamite spells out on a chalkboard the nefarious plot that they’re up against. From that point on it gets way more silly, especially if I didn’t dream the part where he’s helped in a fight by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. But it’s funny shit, and I appreciate that at least for a while they were able to treat it not as much like a comedy as like the craziest and most awesome blaxploitation movie you never found out about before.

None of this would matter if it even halfway felt like a modern movie, but they have the blaxplo look and feel dead on. Apparently it’s shot on real film and processed in some forgotten way that makes it grainy. And it uses some stock footage. But I’m unclear how they got all the buildings and streets to look so perfect.

The most crucial and impressive aspect is the music. I’m picky about this shit so if I’d given it much thought I would’ve assumed the music would be the weak link in the movie. It so easily could’ve gotten laughs from some cheap wah wah guitars and cheesy studio musicians. But it’s much harder to make it sound real. How do you compete with Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Johnny Pate? Even the musicians who actually played funk back in the day have a hard time recapturing it now.

But somehow this guy Adrian Younge made a completely convincing 1970s soundtrack. It’s not just the wah wahs but the percussion, the organs, the flute. Even the vocals and Lalo Schifrin-type dramatic stings sound completely vintage. And I didn’t notice him imitating specific songs either, just all the best of the styles that were used at the time. I mean, I have seen plenty of actual blaxploitation movies where the soundtracks weren’t as good as BLACK DYNAMITE’s.

I wondered where they found this guy, because I never heard of him. According to this internet here he’s an old friend of Scott Sanders, he also edited the movie and he played every instrument on the soundtrack. I want to give this guy a medal, and I want to give myself the soundtrack on CD (if not vinyl).

So everything is in place, but as with almost all the classic blaxploitation movies the main thing you’re looking at is the star, and how cool he or she is. The whole movie could’ve been ruined if it had been the wrong actor who came up with the idea and starred in it. But Michael Jai White is absolutely perfect in this movie, nothing short of brilliant. He plays it 100% deadpan and has every aspect down to a science – the scowl, the heavy-lidded stare, the strut, the voice, the “kong fu.” There are a few scenes with jokey fake martial arts (one of his allies, Bullhorn, is modelled after Dolemite) but White has seven blackbelts, so there’s tons of real action here. And he uses nunchakas alot.

White is hilarious, but not by trying to be funny, just by being dedicated to putting on screen the meanest, coolest, cockiest motherfucker ever. He could do this exact performance in a movie that wasn’t supposed to be funny and I would still love it. The one outstandingly comedic touch is a scene that makes me laugh just thinking about it, a date-in-the-park montage where he’s so tough he doesn’t know how to do romantic scenes. His hug is more awkward than Vin Diesel kissing Asia Argento in xXx.

I consider myself a Michael Jai White fan. I didn’t catch on as fast as some of you talkbackers, who I remember insisting he had to play Blade on the TV series, and I wasn’t sure where that came from. But UNDISPUTED II made me understand. Since then I’ve gone back and watched some of his other roles, like the TV movie of TYSON and the previous Scott Sanders film THICK AS THIEVES (and of course I knew his work in EXIT WOUNDS, where he and Seagal have a sword fight with paper cutter blades).

White is a rare commodity in Hollywood, a legitimate action star/actor. In the old days you had action stars trying to act, and these days you have actors trying to be action stars. White has been able to straddle that line and this is clearly his greatest role so far, giving a perfect performance most other martial arts guys couldn’t do and martial arts that most actors couldn’t do. I’m so happy to see him in a movie that showcases his range of talents.

Sanders was there to give a brief introduction before the movie. Because it was a midnight show I figured he wouldn’t stick around for a Q&A. But right after the wildly applauded end credits he ran up to the stage and to my surprise introduced Michael Jai White himself. Judging by the questions I don’t think most of the crowd knew who he was (what was that movie he was in? DARK KNIGHT? never saw it), but it seemed like they were genuinely excited to see Black Dynamite in person. I was well-behaved and didn’t yell out any questions like “Why is UNDISPUTED II so awesome?”

I’m not sure it was meant as an entirely serious question, but somebody asked if he was worried he would get typecast as “a black action hero.” White semi-defensively talked about being in an upcoming Tyler Perry movie. But I say fuck that, man. If you would rather do dramas that’s cool, but you’ve worked hard to be a great action hero. You’re only getting started here. I want to see more.

In the movie there’s a joke about Black Dynamite never smiling, but when White came up to that stage he was beaming like he was a kid and we were singing happy birthday to him. After all these years taking small parts in Troma movies, in Hong Kong movies, getting a major starring role only to have it become one of the worst comic book movies ever, having a great scene in KILL BILL only to have it cut out… this guy has earned a shot at the next level, but instead of being given it he went out there and made it himself.

BLACK DYNAMITE comes to theaters September 4th. I’m sure some people will see it and say I’m overhyping it. I wouldn’t try to talk somebody who’s not into this type of thing into seeing it. But if you are a fan of blaxploitation and can enjoy an absurd take on it, BLACK DYNAMITE is required viewing, preferably with audience. Please consider seeing it so that maybe we’ll get BLACK DYNAMITE IN AFRICA or BLACK DYNAMITE T.N.T. or something.

–Vern

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/41328

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

  • June 7, 2009, 6:47 p.m. CST

    I’m gonna git you sucka!!!

    by Hey_Zeus

    that is all.

  • June 7, 2009, 6:47 p.m. CST

    I’ll catch it on DVD

    by Derek Wildstarr

  • June 7, 2009, 6:48 p.m. CST

    Word.

    by DoctorZoidberg

  • June 7, 2009, 6:53 p.m. CST

    Black Dynamite killed Carradine.

    by EvilWizardGlick

    So says his family.

  • June 7, 2009, 6:54 p.m. CST

    Blook Dynamite

    by Trannyformers_Apologist

    I’m Wayne Brady ….BITCH!

  • June 7, 2009, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Vern, you missed the best thing about the music

    by Continentalop

    The fucking on the nose lyrics.

    Like when Black Dynamite goes to his brothers apartment and finds out that someone broke into it, the song lyrics are “Somebody broke into my dead brother Jimmy’s apartment…”

    That plus the end credit song.

  • June 7, 2009, 7:01 p.m. CST

    Yeah, THICK AS THEIVES is a sly movie w/ great dialogue.

    by YackBacker

    “They got Wally!” (yes, you have to see it to understand its subtle hilarity).

    Vern, you magnificent bastard, I’m taking your recommendation and Scott Sanders’ track record to the bank and I’m watching this one. Great find.

  • June 7, 2009, 7:05 p.m. CST

    Who are the ad wizards…

    by wampa 1

    …that came up with this one?

  • June 7, 2009, 7:12 p.m. CST

    Carradine was murdered by a secret society of…

    by Gus Van Rant

    Alan Thicke loving dick merchants!!

  • June 7, 2009, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Sweet[back] review, Vern

    by seppukudkurosawa

    The thing I was most worried about was them overplaying the comedy, the same way the annoying SNL graduates have done in their movies. Blaxploitation is larger than life as it is. I always forget how weirdly comical most of those movies are, from the strange Greek chorus effect of most of the background songs’ lyrics to the leftfield attempts at convincing the audience of their characters’ baddassitude (Mario Peebles eating raw lizards, for example). All you gotta do is follow that template without adding too many goofy Zuckerisms and you’ve got a funny movie right off the bat.

    Thanks for the write-up, Vern. I just HOPE that Hotmail thing was a joke…

  • June 7, 2009, 7:25 p.m. CST

    Links to “Black Dynamite” trailers…

    by MisterE

    http://tinyurl.com/qhbanl

    http://tinyurl.com/r4zrdj

    http://tinyurl.com/9aucqp

  • June 7, 2009, 7:29 p.m. CST

    Black Dynamite PSA…

    by MisterE

    http://tinyurl.com/6xmpht

  • June 7, 2009, 7:35 p.m. CST

    Vern-Thick as Thieves

    by conniebrean1

    I’ve always loved this movie and wondered why Pointy Williams wasn’t being used more. He seemed like this comedic secret weapon that nobody knew about. But what’s the deal with Rebecca De Mornay’s character? As the cop, she really doesn’t affect the plot and she vanishes 2/3 of the way through never to come back. Was there some studio note that said to lose her character or something? It just feels unfinished, otherwise it’d be one of my favorite movies. Certainly one of Baldwin’s best performances.

    “What kind of black man drives a volvo?”

    “Kind that cares about safety.”

  • June 7, 2009, 7:39 p.m. CST

    you bastard!

    by Six Demon Bag

    best line delivery in a Kill Bill deleted scene. ever.

  • June 7, 2009, 7:40 p.m. CST

    This is the kinda shit…

    by ebonic_plague

    …I would call “Cool News.” And I’m glad I now know to look out for it. Thanks, Vern. You’re right, we can never have enough blaxploitation movies. Especially ones with actual quality, original sounding funk music.

  • June 7, 2009, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Quinten should do a movie with White

    by antonphd

    We got a tease of them together in Kill Bill on dvd, but I want the real thing. White deserves a real film with a real director.

  • June 7, 2009, 7:48 p.m. CST

    He should of been in the expendables instead of Terry Crews.

    by ganymede3010

    Oh well, maybe Sly will cast him in the Sequel.

  • June 7, 2009, 7:55 p.m. CST

    ANOTHER PHD LENGTH REVIEW OF A TOTAL SHITE FILM

    by TITBAG

  • June 7, 2009, 8 p.m. CST

    TITBAG, YOU IGNORANT SLUT

    by caruso_stalker217

  • June 7, 2009, 8:14 p.m. CST

    1,864 word review

    by animas

    is the script even that long?

  • June 7, 2009, 8:18 p.m. CST

    Cool

    by Forsakyn

    Thanks for the review, Vern. Really looking forward to this (and like some others I thought Thick as Thieves was quite good – as was White’s character in the movie).

  • June 7, 2009, 8:18 p.m. CST

    White has a Great Deleted Scene in Kill Bill

    by ZoeFan

    It’s on the Blu-Ray Volume 2 disc.

  • June 7, 2009, 8:21 p.m. CST

    UNDISPUTED 2 is so much fun

    by George Newman

    watched it one night with a bunch of guys. Someone rented it, many were skeptical (including me), and we had an incredible time watching it. White was fantastic and the action is some of the best hand-to-hand stuff in years!

  • June 7, 2009, 8:26 p.m. CST

    What’s with the Hotmail horseshit?

    by MelvintheMopBoy

    Somebody wake up that fat fuck of an editor.

  • June 7, 2009, 8:33 p.m. CST

    I

    by Charlie_Allnut

  • June 7, 2009, 8:34 p.m. CST

    I’m Ready!

    by Charlie_Allnut

    Been waiting for this for a while…as a hardcore Dolemite fan I’m pretty stoked!

  • June 7, 2009, 8:36 p.m. CST

    Sheeet negro, that’s all you had to say.

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    Wrong movie I know, but you had me sold at Michael Jai White. With the exception of that Jerry Springer semi-biography White always kicks ass.

  • June 7, 2009, 8:44 p.m. CST

    Has his acting gotten better since Spawn?

    by slone13

    Cause he was terrible in that movie. Now that I think about it, EVERYTHING about that movie was terrible.

  • June 7, 2009, 8:55 p.m. CST

    This is on my must see list for sure.

    by SoylentMean

    Or should I say, “fo’ sho”? I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a movie trailer in my life.

  • June 7, 2009, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Michale J White… you bitches better recognize!

    by Johnno

    I’ll be there for this like areoles on tits!

  • June 7, 2009, 9:11 p.m. CST

    need thiiiiiis

    by TheExterminator

  • June 7, 2009, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Blaxplo

    by palpatinefuckedmydog

    My new favorite word!

  • June 7, 2009, 9:20 p.m. CST

    I thought Undisputed 2 was going to suck ass

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    instead it kicked it. I was stupid for taking forever to see that flick.

  • June 7, 2009, 9:27 p.m. CST

    When is this Coming Out?

    by cymbalta4thedevil

    Does it have a distributor yet? Those details would be helpful…

  • June 7, 2009, 9:29 p.m. CST

    September 4th

    by cymbalta4thedevil

    Sorry, missed that on the first read through…

  • June 7, 2009, 9:38 p.m. CST

    Vern, I was at the 9:30 screening at SIFF

    by BadMrWonka

    it was pretty fucking phenomenal, I loved it. I was gonna write it up for you guys, but I figured you were there.

    Cedric Yarborough from Reno 911 stole all his scenes!

  • June 7, 2009, 9:41 p.m. CST

    What if a white man had written and directed this?

    by D.Vader

    Serious question for all non-white talkbackers out there. If a white man had written and directed this, would you feel it was offensive? I’m sure its a very thin line, and I’m not asking this to stir things up. Just genuinely curious.

  • June 7, 2009, 9:41 p.m. CST

    That said: REALLY looking forward to this!

    by D.Vader

    Looks hilarious, I’ve loved all the trailers so far and show them to all my friends.

  • June 7, 2009, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Right on, Black Belt Jones.

    by kabong

    But Vern won’t mess wit’ Script Girl’s tits-fu.

  • June 7, 2009, 10 p.m. CST

    Kung Fu Treachery!

    by gavdiggity

    Great fucking screening. Gotta say, though, I’m worried about all of the so-white-they’re-translucent ass clowns I heard talking on the way out about quoting the movie in casual conversation. I think that come Sept 4, we may be facing a wave of douchey frat guys trying to talk like The Mack.

    So there’s another Austin Powers comparison to make…

  • June 7, 2009, 10:06 p.m. CST

    nice

    by Dollar Bird

    “I was the best CIA agent that the CIA ever had in the CIA.” That’s a great line. Nice review, Vern. I’d heard nothing of this until now and you sold me.

  • June 7, 2009, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Hey wait, Scott Sanders came to speak to my class!

    by D.Vader

    I thought his name sounded familiar. He’s a fellow graduate of UNC at Chapel Hill. I remember he came and spoke to my class, “The Business of the Business” 5 years ago, and he showed a short film of his (which isn’t listed on his IMDB credits), but did star a familiar character actos (whose name I can’t recall). He was a cool cat. Scott Sanders, I mean. I hope this brings him a lot of success.

  • June 7, 2009, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Blaxploitation Rules

    by Cinemanimetal

    Blaxploitation is one of my favorite genres of film. Mostly, it is because you are almost always guaranteed an awesome soundtrack. Even in some of the not as cool movies there is some funky cool thing going on in the background. I can’t wait to see this one!

  • June 7, 2009, 10:09 p.m. CST

    “But Black Dynamite,

    by the Green Gargantua

    I sell drugs to the community”

  • June 7, 2009, 10:32 p.m. CST

    Let The Right One In

    by MegaBeth

    Was a really entertaining movie. Just saw it last night (Thanks Netflix). I suggest everyone into Vampires checking it out.

    As for Black Dynamite.. ummm.. I dunno sweetie!

  • June 7, 2009, 10:54 p.m. CST

    Is there a REASON why MJW isn’t the Black Panther???

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    I mean, seriously… the guy can act, is handsome, cut like a rock and has SEVEN BLACK BELTS!!! And you’re telling me that the ONLY superhero role he can get in 15 years is SPAWN???
    That, my friends, is a crime against comicdom! >:(

  • June 7, 2009, 10:58 p.m. CST

    Dunno if you know this D. Vader….

    by theycallmemrtibbs

    There were quite a few “Blaxpoitation” films directed by White Directors

  • June 7, 2009, 11:04 p.m. CST

    D.Vader… SHAFT was created by a white guy.

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    If the film is genuinely funny and not simply an excuse to mock black people and make them look like idiots, most of us don’t care what color the writer is. That said, Black creators get MUCH more leeway in how far they can mock other Blacks, because it’s self-deprecating humor. Dave Chappelle’s show and In Living Color were priceless partly BECAUSE of their ability to mock Black foibles without being labeled “racist.” White creators don’t have that luxury and tend to hold back.
    And Slone13, I take it you’ve seen The Dark Knight? Remember the Black gangster who was eventually killed by the Joker after putting a bounty on his head? THAT was Michael Jai White. The man can ACT.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:05 p.m. CST

    I figured there were, MrTibbs

    by D.Vader

    Did some research on IMDB but there aren’t a lot of directors there with bios or pictures, so its hard to tell who’s who when it came to the writers and directors.
    But its a different time now. Not sure if there would be different attitudes. Its a fine line between homage and spoof, and it sounds like Scott Sanders did it right.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:11 p.m. CST

    I loved In Living Color growing up, GhostWhoLurks

    by D.Vader

    Glad to see Tommy Davidson has a role in Black Dynamite. Just the other day I was thinking I’d like to put David Alan Grier in one of my films one day bc I haven’t seen him in awhile either.
    Anyway, I asked because I had an idea for a different sort of “blaxsploitation” film, and my black friends didn’t have a problem with the idea. But talkbacker film geeks are a different group entirely. Thanks for sharing. My idea, I hope, is genuinely funny, so I’m glad to hear that as long as its good, its okay. That was the plan.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:12 p.m. CST

    MegaBeth-LTROI

    by Toonol

    “LTROI”… what a crappy acronym. Regarding “Let the right one in”, is it ok for a fairly intelligent fourteen year old to watch? He doesn’t mind blood, but doesn’t like jump scares.

    I don’t know how he feels about necrophiliac undead pedophilia, if there’s any of that.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:15 p.m. CST

    Solid.

    by CherryValance

    I really loved the trailer and this review is just convincing me more. I loved ‘Undercover Brother’ even if that was a definite spoof and terribly goofy it wasn’t mean spirited. This sounds like a more serious version of that.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:28 p.m. CST

    Cool.

    by otm shank

    I loved the trailer. Plus my friends buddy is in this flick. So I’m sure we’ll be checking it out.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:33 p.m. CST

    If it wasn’t for “Blaxpoitation”

    by theycallmemrtibbs

    There would be no Quentin Tarantino.

    He copied the entire style of filmmaking and made it “hip and cool” for a new generation.

    Take another look at Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof.

    For instance, the end credits rolling at the beginning of his films very popular in the 70’s. The slick dialogue with a slight awkwardness to the way the actors delivered the lines, most of the actors weren’t that great in ‘Blaxpoitation” films while others were actual people that directors found during shoots…Drug Addicts, pimps, etc. to fit within the genre. Quentin does the same deal only with A-list or fairly decent actors and they delivered they’re lines with the same authenticity of blaxpoitation movies off key, grimey and realistic. Then there are scenes that run a little bit too long, pick any of Quentin’s movies for that one. And last but not least, his all time highlight the over excessive use of the N word.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:35 p.m. CST

    I agree D. Vee

    by theycallmemrtibbs

    I just hope the movie is good. Been waiting a while for it.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:41 p.m. CST

    If I saw this…

    by natecore

    I’d be the only white guy in the theatre.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:44 p.m. CST

    …jive-ass Muthafuckaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    by tomthumbstallywhacker

    I’m so there.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:55 p.m. CST

    I Dunno Natecore…

    by theycallmemrtibbs

    But a shitload of my caucasian brethren went to go see Tyler Perry’s last “dress up like a woman to make people laugh” movie and that thing took in 56 million dollars opening weekend, with a little luck, this movie could gross over a hundred million. Remember we’re in the Post In Living Color, Dave Chappelle era.

  • June 7, 2009, 11:57 p.m. CST

    SHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

    by jimmy rabbitte

    you’re gonna wake up the rest of the bitches.

  • June 8, 2009, 12:13 a.m. CST

    you’re gonna wake up the rest of the bitches.

    by Player 1

    Sorry, just had to allow peeps to see it!

  • June 8, 2009, 12:17 a.m. CST

    I love Black People.

    by BillyMayesHere

    This is badassery

  • June 8, 2009, 12:25 a.m. CST

    Natecore

    by Vern

    What are you trying to say, you’re afraid of black people or something? I think it’ll be okay, they’re not gonna give a shit if you watch BLACK DYNAMITE with them.

    Wait– do you have a racist tattoo on the back of your head? I’m trying to figure out what you’re afraid of. Or are you just really interested in demographics? What do you think the gender and age breakdowns will be?

  • June 8, 2009, 12:45 a.m. CST

    How’d you get in here?

    by fuckdisney

    I walked in…

  • June 8, 2009, 12:54 a.m. CST

    Natecore

    by BadMrWonka

    there’s about 45 million black people in the united states, and even the most “black-centric” movies like Tyler Perry’s can make up to 50 or 60 million dollars. white people are seeing them too, kiddo.

    not to mention, this is a high concept parody/send-up, it’s for everyone. I saw it at SIFF (the screening right before Vern) and the audience was pretty mixed. as mixed as Seattle gets, to be fair.
    admittedly, this was a festival showing, but honestly, this is just a hilarious movie, it’s not going to appeal solely to black people. funny is funny.

  • June 8, 2009, 12:59 a.m. CST

    I’m guessing Natecore simply means…

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    That Black Dynamite is likely going to appeal mainly to Black audiences. And he’s probably right. When was the last time a film with a 75%+ Black cast got a majority White audience? Especially films set in “the hood”?
    Whether it’s dramas or comedies, White audiences tend to avoid films if it seems like a “Black film.” I’ve tried getting many friends to see some great films with Black casts, but it’s like pulling teeth. Many White people are afraid of either being offended or not getting what’s going on in the film. It’s almost instinctive.

  • June 8, 2009, 1:10 a.m. CST

    Of course…

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    The string of heavily-publicized shootings in several theatres across the country when “Boyz N The Hood” came out years ago didn’t exactly make going to a “Black film” that appealing to Whites, either. Plus, fears of standing out or laughing at things that might be perceived as “inappropriate” by a mostly Black audience, I’m sure, also makes many Caucasians reluctant to see Black films. Whatever…

  • June 8, 2009, 1:13 a.m. CST

    Vern, you may want to reconsider…

    by mr.underwater

    The dark red on black color scheme for your site, because you can’t read shit.

  • June 8, 2009, 1:18 a.m. CST

    That Indiana Jones statue makes him look like a geezer!

    by Mr.LordBronco

    You know it’s bad when your legally, governtmentally declared old parents said the movie sucked and that they nearly walked out :-0

    i’m just sayin

    -MLB

  • June 8, 2009, 1:19 a.m. CST

    Hey when I went to see Soul Food

    by CherryValance

    five separate people tried to turn me out.</p>

    :o) </p>

  • June 8, 2009, 1:33 a.m. CST

    I like Black people too.

    by The Dark Shite

    I used to be one.

  • June 8, 2009, 2:16 a.m. CST

    this needs to be shown at a drive in

    by bacci40

    are there any left…anywhere? ill make the drive
    i need to be eating shitty popcorn, drinking flat coke, listening to sound through a shit speaker, and wondering why the guy in the car next to me is getting great poon…while i watch this movie
    at the least, it needs to be seen in a times square cinema….oh shit, those are gone now too….fuck

  • June 8, 2009, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Jive-Ass Mothaaa FuCKAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

    by Mike_D

    best scene in the trailer

  • June 8, 2009, 2:38 a.m. CST

    TheGhostWhoLurks, “Godfather 3” had shootouts—

    by blakindigo

    —at some cinema so, I’m more than a little suspicious of media coverage about violence surrounding “Black” movies. It feels like a double standard to me. Somehow, Kasi Lemmons’ movies avoid that stigma, probably because her well crafted stories and performances won’t make a top news story to bolster slow ratings.
    Thank God her films have found distribution.

  • June 8, 2009, 2:41 a.m. CST

    And, I really hope this film succeeds because of the—

    by blakindigo

    — talents involved. The trailer is so much fun—”Rated Aare’eh!”

    Brilliant.

  • June 8, 2009, 2:48 a.m. CST

    Wasn’t there a shooting at Benjamin Button?

    by Continentalop

    Of course, after seeing that movie I was surprised that there wasn’t more.

  • June 8, 2009, 2:48 a.m. CST

    Mr. Underwater

    by Vern

    I can read it just fine, thank you. But just click on the “more” part and the whole review shows up in grey. If that’s not good enough there’s a “theme switcher” on the lower right of the front page which will reset the whole thing to be more readable for more delicate eyes.

  • June 8, 2009, 2:49 a.m. CST

    “There are only two things I do well…

    by Continentalop

    …take money from bitches and sell drugs to the community.”

    Favorite line in the thing.

  • June 8, 2009, 3:11 a.m. CST

    shooting at Benjamin Button

    by blakindigo

    Aw man, can’t y’all leave Fincher alone? It’s a better film on second viewing.

    Seriously.

  • June 8, 2009, 3:31 a.m. CST

    I really enjoyed BENJAMIN BUTTON

    by caruso_stalker217

    Slow as fuck and I probably won’t watch it for another year, but it has the distinction of being the first film to make me cry since I saw TERMINATOR 2 when I was a kid.

    Also, like I said, I thought it was good.

  • June 8, 2009, 4:44 a.m. CST

    AW FUCK YEAH, NIKKUH!

    by ironic_name

    this movie is amazing.

  • June 8, 2009, 4:58 a.m. CST

    Vern.

    by Knuckleduster

    Did you manage to get your hands on a copy of Darwyn Cooke’s comic adaptation of Richard Stark’s The Hunter yet? A review would be all kinds of awesome.

  • June 8, 2009, 4:59 a.m. CST

    if only it starred billy zane

    by ironic_name

    http://tinyurl.com/mxpbcm

  • June 8, 2009, 5:01 a.m. CST

    Knuckleduster, it’s Cooke. if he shat on a blank page

    by ironic_name

    it’d rock.

  • June 8, 2009, 5:02 a.m. CST

    white mandingo 2: white chocolate

    by ironic_name

    http://tinyurl.com/lqrfq9

  • June 8, 2009, 5:12 a.m. CST

    BLACK DYNAMITE IN AFRICA or BLACK DYNAMITE T.N.T.

    by Napolean Solo

    Vern not only was that a brilliant review… but I WANT TO SEE BOTH THOSE SEQUELS NOW! I hope MJW and the director read what you just wrote, because the titles for the sequels are GAWESOME!!!

    On another note, this:

    “After all these years taking small parts in Troma movies, in Hong Kong movies, getting a major starring role only to have it become one of the worst comic book movies ever, having a great scene in KILL BILL only to have it cut out… this guy has earned a shot at the next level, but instead of being given it he went out there and made it himself.”

    -actually made me well up. Seriously!

    You’ll see why a year from now.

  • June 8, 2009, 5:13 a.m. CST

    Shit!

    by caruso_stalker217

    I’d almost forgotten about Lincoln Nebraska and his gold-plated honeys!

  • June 8, 2009, 5:54 a.m. CST

    O.K. I’m in. Now where the fuck is Bitch Slap?

    by Stuntcock Mike

  • June 8, 2009, 6 a.m. CST

    http://www.bitchslapmovie.com/

    by Stuntcock Mike

  • June 8, 2009, 6:30 a.m. CST

    I had my doubts about this one too

    by Spandau Belly

    It seemed like it could be a really funny trailer that goes limp when expanded to a movie, glad to hear that wasn’t the case.

  • June 8, 2009, 6:40 a.m. CST

    wacky demographics

    by Spandau Belly

    I was the only white guy in the theatre when I saw The Spirit.

    And no, that’s not because I was the only guy in the theatre period.

  • June 8, 2009, 6:48 a.m. CST

    Vern, don’t get down on Natecore

    by DoctorZoidberg

    His statement wasn’t racist. Depending on where he lives, and what experiences he has had in the past, his caution may well be justified. I have had black friends opt to drive out to the burbs to see a flick in a non-urban theatre for various reasons. I don’t think they were being racist. White people being scared of being surrounded by black people isn’t in and of itself racist. It does seed the hatred that leads to racism however. Per Yoda “fear leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering”…or sumthin like that.

  • June 8, 2009, 8:03 a.m. CST

    Does He Catch Bullets With His Teeth?

    by Broseph

    Nigga Please

  • June 8, 2009, 8:35 a.m. CST

    Still waiting on Cleopatra Schwartz

    by Big_Daddy_Nero

    Maybe they can finally get around to making Cleopatra Schwartz and put it on a double-bill with this movie… good times! good times!

  • June 8, 2009, 9:23 a.m. CST

    BLACK VIOLENCE!!!

    by Rings_of_the_Lord

    Is always blown out of proportion. The truth is white on black violence is the norm. Yet I take my black ass to movies surrounded by white people all the time!!

    Check out spike lee’s “School Daze” for a little insight on how many blacks buy into the stereotypes that white society slam dunks in their brains on a daily and consistent basis!!

  • June 8, 2009, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Toonol

    by maelstrom_ZERO

    IIRC, Let the Right One In was fairly tame for a movie about a bloodthirsty vampire. Though there are few, genuine Resident Evil-styled “jump out and scare you” moments, there are quite a few instances were it gets a little disturbing–the scenes that come to mind are a man pouring acid over his face, and seeing the result afterwards, watching a limp corpse get dumped into a river, and other such instances.</p>

    There is no necrophiliac pedophile-based sex (the movie isn’t as racy as True Blood), but there is a 1-second shot of someone’s nether regions–but honestly, when it happened, I couldn’t see much, and I had no idea what I was looking at.</p>

    I think the movie’s more frightening on an intellectual level rather than a visual/visceral level–there is an obligatory amount of blood and corpses, but a lot of the fear comes from not knowing how these characters you care about will get through the obstacles they face. Plus, it’s more disturbing than scary.</p>

    Awesome movie, though. I brought my non-artsy friend to watch it (he likes superhero movies, and stuff like Hitman, Mortal Kombat; questionable taste, really), and even he admitted that it was something he grudgingly enjoyed. The pacing is a bit on the slow side (not as terribly slow as Blade Runner, but close), but it’s definitely worth the watch.</p>

  • June 8, 2009, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Michael Jai White IS Luke Cage…

    by Luke_Cage

    …or a brother from another mother.

    Make it happen, Hollywood.

    Word

  • June 8, 2009, 10:34 a.m. CST

    I’ve been waiting on this for a long time

    by turketron_2

    YOU JIVE MOTHAFUCKAAAAAAAA

    But seriously, been waiting to see this ever since I saw that first trailer over a year ago. Showed it to friends and they keep asking when is it actually coming out. Good to know that September 4 is the date.

  • June 8, 2009, 12:41 p.m. CST

    Carradine was murdered by his dick

    by ThePilgrim

    his dick wanted to get off it needed to scarf to get a higher rush it force David to tie the rope around his neck. End of Story. The dick killed him. It explains everything. Every man in here is a slave to their own dick. It makes you do stupid shit. David had a drinking and drug problem in the past- No he had a dick problem and he was trying to cope. I guess the dick won. It finally killed the poor bastard and humiliated and shamed his name forever. The Learning is half the battle theme here- is this. Beat that damn dick, before it beats you. G.I. Joeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

  • June 8, 2009, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Man, this review cheered me up.

    by TELF

    Way to go Vern – Way to go MJW.
    Is it getting a full release or what? Must see.

  • June 8, 2009, 3:18 p.m. CST

    word of caution

    by Vern

    Harry told me he didn’t like it at all, he thought it was just like a bunch of skits. So keep that in mind when you watch it so my love of it doesn’t get your hopes up too high. But in my opinion it’s possible/likely that Harry is just a huge fan of SPAWN and pissed off that I said this was a better role.

  • June 8, 2009, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Harry’s opinion does not matter

    by Continentalop

    He can like what he likes, fine, but as far as him having any semblance of a taste comparable to mine – forget it. Any man who likes Twilight doesn’t have the same taste as me.

  • June 8, 2009, 3:51 p.m. CST

    Harry is ridiculous

    by D.Vader

    I don’t think anyone takes him seriously, anymore. Which is unfortunate, as he used to be HeadGeek. Now he’s more of a joke. The way he runs this site (ScriptGirl for example) doesn’t help and only adds fuel to the fire.

  • June 8, 2009, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Problem with Harry is that this site is now popular…

    by Kenshiro_187

    Anything that becomes popular or a beacon for stuff you have to make compromises and kiss ass. Shit, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip name dropped this site. That scrawny punk-ass muayfukka Shia Laboeuf name drops this site on Letterman. Shit, even on the back of Alexander Revisited Harry’s quote is there. And all the people who come here from Edgar Wright, Seth Rogen, etc. Connect Politic Ditto as Raekwon would say.

    There are instances of the past like with his Terminator review but cut Harry some slack. No choice.

    Harry, if you read this I understand brother. Do me a favor, get Sly to check out this dude on youtube–>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Od4sFlyECw<–

    Come on Harry, help the unknowns be known!

  • June 8, 2009, 4:17 p.m. CST

    A fan of “Spawn”? The comic or the TV show?

    by blakindigo

    ‘Cause that movie was…um, not entertaining.

  • June 8, 2009, 7:09 p.m. CST

    Vern – just one question bro… Charlotte Stokely..?

    by workshed

    Does she get much screentime..? I’m pretty sure that she’s Anne Hathaway’s NASTY twin (with world-record-beating control of her gag reflex). Really looking forward to BD. Cheers for the reassurance.

  • June 8, 2009, 7:32 p.m. CST

    workshed

    by Continentalop

    She is in only one scene, early in the movie. But it is one of the best gags in the movie and she does show off a little bit of her tits.

  • June 8, 2009, 7:59 p.m. CST

    So do you recommend it Continentalop?

    by blakindigo

    I’m looking for more reviews…

  • June 8, 2009, 9:40 p.m. CST

    Seagal in the EXPENDIBLES?

    by Phimseto

    Hey Vern, what’s the story with Seagal turning down a role in Stallone’s film? That’s crummy news!

  • June 8, 2009, 9:41 p.m. CST

    Luke Cage

    by Phimseto

    I’ve been advocating White as Luke Cage since Kill Bill! There’s no reason Marvel couldn’t go low budget and make a cool as hell film.

  • June 8, 2009, 9:48 p.m. CST

    I can’t recommend it one way or another, blakindigo

    by Continentalop

    Full disclosure, I worked on it (not in a big capacity, but I did do work on it and I do have a credit). So I am extremely bias about the film and want it to do good.

    But yeah, I think it is worth seeing. I have seen four different cuts, and each time it gets better and better. If people saw it during Sundance, it is much better now.

  • June 8, 2009, 11:26 p.m. CST

    Phimseto

    by Vern

    I just know what I read on Moviehole. I have no inside info but the story sounds plausible to me. He did a bunch of increasingly crappy movies with those producers and recently got out of the deal with them. Look up their credits and besides RAMBO they’ve mostly produced crappy DTV movies. But of course I agree, that would’ve been great if he was in there somewhere.

  • June 9, 2009, 2:24 a.m. CST

    I mean, really, who isn’t?

    by thebearovingian

    Everybody down wit Black Dynamite.

  • June 9, 2009, 10:58 a.m. CST

    Brian Azzarello’s version of Luke Cage—

    by blakindigo

    I wonder if that might be an interesting film, directed by Joe Carnahan? I always enjoyed that take on Luke Cage, almost like a reboot of the character.

  • July 7, 2009, 1:35 a.m. CST

    I liked Spawn

    by Series7

    So what. Wanna fight about it.

  • July 23, 2009, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Cool interviews with cast and crew of “Black Dynamite”

    by thefilmguy88

    I came across these interviews….check em!

    http://makingof.com/filming_now/media/black-dynamite/scott-sanders-and-michael-jai-white/3/77

    http://makingof.com/filming_now/media/black-dynamite/tommy-davidson-exclusive-stand-up/3/52

  • Oct. 22, 2009, 4:45 p.m. CST

    in the trailer for black dynamite is says

    by evil dead 3d

    it is filmed in cimemaphonic quadrovision, now how can you mess wid DAT?

    AND it’s rated R-uh

  • March 19, 2011, 1:49 p.m. CST

    BLACK DYNAMITE GRAPHIC NOVEL!

    by grandwiz

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=8072&disp=table

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, June 7th, 2009 at 9:54 pm and is filed under Action, AICN, Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

26 Responses to “Vern is down with BLACK DYNAMITE”

  1. This sounds good and I’m glad. I thought it was cool when the director left a comment here a little while back. Also I think Vern forgot to link to it but he reviewed Dolphs’ new movie a week or so back on AICN so check that out if you havent yet. Nice review Vern.

  2. Never heard of this until I read your review. Now I just hope to Shaft it gets released over here.

  3. Good stuff , Vern. I’m happy for Michael Jai White , and , as always , I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him to play Blade in the inevitable remake/re-imagining/restart ( you KNOW it will be “MJW+MCG+JLO+DMX=BLADE ORIGINS on the poster…. goddamn that looks like a mathematics formula !!!). I’m currently trying to track down “Black Samurai” after watching Kelly in Enter the Dragon. Is it any good?
    Also : Jim Kelly is Obama with an Afro !!!

  4. This movie is crazy fun. It hits all the right notes and if it doesn’t make Michael Jai White a huge star, there ain’t no justice.

    “We were afraid you’d turn the streets in to a river of blood!”

    “Tell me who did it an’ I’ll just leave a lil’ puddle!”

  5. Sounds good. It’s going to be shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival here, but I hope it gets a general release in the UK.
    Observation from the Tim Roth show Lie to Me: Why are guys called White always black and guys called Black always white?

  6. That pic on the front page is fantastic. But clearly begs the invention of…. Gun-Chucks. I’m off out to my shed to engineer a prototype.

  7. The closest we’ll ever get to gunchucks is the stuff they had in Equilibrium. And that is sad.

    Glad Vern dug this movie. I was pumped because of the trailer but a lot of the advance word bummed me out because they made it sound like an Austin Powers movie, which isn’t what I wanted or was promised in that trailer. Vern has much higher standards for this kind of movie then I do, so hearing him say that it fulfills its promise assuages most of my concerns.

  8. I saw this movie a couple months ago and thought it was awesome, as you said, the last 1/3 dragged a little and I thought they were going to clean it up. Still, it’s a solid film and you should all see it.

  9. I saw the trailer a few months ago and loved it. Glad to read that it has the Vern seal of approval, now I’m really excited to see it.

    BTW, speaking of Mayfield, where’s the Short Eyes write up, Vern?

  10. Rubble – I didn’t think the last part dragged, it’s just that it was way sillier and more comedy than the earlier part. But it was good. From what I understand they have tightened it up somehow since Sundance.

  11. oh PLEASE let this movie get a wide release! please please please

  12. so, is it like Hot fuzz For Blaxploitation? A spoof-homage? Because that would be awesome. I have a hard time watching Blaxploitation because of the shitty filmmaking, but this could be great.

    thanks for the heads up, i probably wouldn’t have gone to see this otherwise.

  13. Well Ebert quite liked BLACK DYNAMITE so Vern you got some critical pimping help.

    “I am happy to say it brings back an element sadly missing in recent movies, gratuitous nudity. ”

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091014/REVIEWS/910149998

  14. This is being released over here next week. Probably to do with 1970s authenticity, used to take that long for films to get here back in the day.

  15. finally got around to watching it and loved it

    so glad I bought the blu ray

  16. hi, vern black dynamite recently saw straight-to-dvd release here in the Netherlands. and after buying my copy I noticed it uses a qoute of yours. “black dynamite is pretty god damn spectaculair” to be exact.
    don’t know if you were aware of it already, but I just wanted to let you know anyway.

  17. To amplify RRA’s point about Ebert’s BLACK DYNAMITE love:

    **The women are also dressed in period threads, and many have big Afros. I [Roger Ebert] am happy to say it brings back an element sadly missing in recent movies, gratuitous nudity. Sexy women would “happen” to be topless in the 1970s movies for no better reason than that everyone agreed, including themselves, that their breasts were a genuine pleasure to regard — the most beautiful naturally occurring shapes in nature, I believe. Now we see breasts only in serious films, for expressing reasons. There’s been such a comeback for the strategically positioned bed sheet, you’d think we were back in the 1950s.**

    Word.

  18. Ebert loves boobs. It’s one of the best things about him.

  19. I don’t know how I failed to find your review of this flick until now, man. It’s a fantastic review of an incredible movie. Saw it at the cinema here in Dublin and it was a great atmosphere, everyone laughing their asses off even though I could tell two thirds of the audience had no idea what they were walking into at the start.

    Can’t wait to see more from these guys.

  20. Thist just came out on DVD over here the uk. Fantastic, and our release had a not bad bunch of extras too.

  21. Finally saw this and just wanted to say thanks for the heads up. Laughed pretty much the whole way through it.

  22. Mr. M – Yes Ebert likes boobies. Try to read his SALT review sometime, and you’re certain by his writing about Jolie that the dude is…well, despite his age and recent physical health setbacks (like losing a jaw)…he still gets “excited.”

    Not that I liked SALT (forgettable mindless actioneer) but I liked when a critic admits to be impressed by honest reasons and not necessarily grandiose standards.

  23. Vern – BIGGEST NEWS OF THE DAY son! Adult Swim picks up BLACK DYNAMITE toon series. It’ll start airing next spring.

    http://www.deadline.com/2011/04/adult-swim-pick-up-black-dynamite-series/

  24. I thought I’d dump this info here since Younge did the score to this, but have you heard the new Ghostface Killah album? Adrian Younge produced and composed for it. It’s a pretty great concept album. If you like the Wu or giallos or fucking cool shit, then give it a whirl.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyB3rx3-K5c

  25. Yeah, it’s awesome. Some of us were talking about it on the BLACK DYNAMITE soundtrack review.

    http://www.outlawvern.com/2010/02/16/black-dynamite-day/

  26. Listening to the soundtrack again, after I introduced my best friend to the movie yesterday. Seriously, every time I watch it, I admire it more and more.

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