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Film Review: Black Dynamite
In 2009, Scott Sanders released Black Dynamite which starred Michael Jai White, Salli Richardson, Arsenio Hall, Kevin Chapman, Tommy Davidson, Obba Babatudne, Richard Edson, Buddy Lewis, Brian McKnight and Nicole Ari Parker. the film grossed $296,557 at the box office and spawned an animated spin-off on Adult Swim and an online parody series released by Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist News in 2013 as well as ideas for a sequel that has yet to be realized. Nominated for the Black Reel Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted and the Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television), the film won the Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film and received the Third Place Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Vietnam vet and former CIA agent Black Dynamite declares ware on all drug dealers when his CIA informant brother winds up murdered by the mob. However, he soon finds that a conspiracy reaches far beyond the dealers and sets out to find the masterminds.
An incredibly fun film to watch, Black Dynamite contains an absurd plot that just gets more and more audacious as the story progresses. In and of itself, the idea seems to be pretty straightforward: clean up the town and stop a conspiracy. However, it’s the progression of this idea where all the wackiness comes out, such has having all these random and conflicting events happen in Black Dynamite’s backstory. These include him making a promise to his mother as she dies and then being teased for being an orphan when he’s clearly younger than he was when making said promise. There’s another point that sees a boomerang that goes for a second hit if it misses. It’s abused for all its worth, like Black Dynamite throwing it off screen to defeat an enemy a scene or two later. Not to mention all the stock footage used to recreate the car chases, which involves editing the footage in an illogical way that brings about funny continuity issues, such as the same car blowing up twice in different scenes, yet bearing no resemblance to the actual cars used by the characters.
One of the greatest examples of the film's absurdity is in the scene where Black Dynamite and his crew figure out the conspiracy behind Anaconda Malt Liquor. Somehow and some way, Black Dynamite is able to take a line about buttery waffles melting in your mouth to connecting the liquor with points that would be unconnected in any other film. These include M&Ms, Topeka, Kansas, the god Apollo, and the singer Little Richard. At the same time, the connections make sense within the context and absurdity of the film, but also feel like a connection made by a lunatic. The thing is though, that’s pretty much what Black Dynamite is: a raving, genius lunatic that managed to figure out a conspiracy that involves the government and malt liquor.
That’s another thing that makes the film so fun: the characters. For one, there’s Dynamite himself who is comically invincible, so much so that the only person who had any chance of beating him is Richard Nixon, who was about to before the ghost of Abraham Lincoln joined in. Yet, he’s also a comedic sociopath, laughing uncontrollably when he drops a drug kingpin’s car with a helicopter. But, as said above, there’s really insane things we find out about the guy throughout the flashbacks. Namely he had a mother, but was also an orphan and that he had a mustache at eight years old. The crazy thing is he’s the sanest character in the movie. There’s also Cream Corn, a man who acts the part of the film’s hysterical woman, screaming his head off about everything in the film, no matter how small. Another is Bullhorn, who feels the need to make a rhyme with everything he says all the time. Then there’s Richard and Pat Nixon. The former of which is a kung foo master and the latter actually apologizing for fighting Black Dynamite after he defeats Richard. And in proper fashion for everything else the film give us, he brushes it off because she should be protecting her man, yet that doesn’t stop her from hanging onto Black Dynamite’s leg at the end.
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