Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Black Dynamite" - Netflix instant viewing to the rescue

2009's "Black Dynamite" looks and feels like a tailor-made sleeper hit. But as you watch it, you realize that creators must have planned on things like Internet buzz, the festival circuit, and quick dvd/video release. It doesn't take long to realize that "BD" is actually a tailor-made 21st Century fan favorite. Yet you won't complain because the movie does what it does well, amuses its audience in many ways, and never takes itself too seriously.

You can clearly see that this doesn't take itself too seriously.

Michael Jai White provides a solid and energetic lead. He works well as a capable ass-kicker whose quest to avenge his brother puts him on the trail of crime lords and wider societal corruption. MJW has more than martial arts skill. He has a lot of charisma and ability, and it's great to see him shine in this insane mix of "Shaft" (or "Superfly") and "Enter the Dragon." There's plenty of reasons why this guy should get lots of work, and I hope this movie's wide-spread critical success provides that...

BD, that rare 'Nam vet who believes he killed Chinese people.

His forceful, genteel-yet-explosive character is the smooth, proud Black Dynamite, a civic-minded martial arts genius and former government spook. Every woman wants him. Smart men treat him like an intelligent tiger. Anyone foolish enough to disrespect BD better pray for mercy - if they don't receive it, they'll get knocked out in a heartbeat. The movie sets the protagonist up for a lot of praise, from other parts and the audience. It's a toss-up as to whether he's supposed to be an anti-hero, but I suspect they only want him to be a 70's-style badass.

So many shows and films are being recycled - cop shows like "Starsky & Hutch" and "Hawaii Five-O," or cartoons like "GI Joe." It's actually a pleasant surprise to find a picture that neatly sticks to the attitude and style of its times. Ideally, "Black Dynamite" should be seen at a drive-in. Since that's fairly unlikely these days, you may have to settle for DVD or on-line streaming...It's actually a blessing that you can watch it so easily.
I don't think this movie will please everyone. But the film has a steady level of solid (or even brilliant) humor that I haven't seen since "The Naked Gun 2."

Even civic-minded do-gooders lose their tempers…

Everything about this movie is a complete throwback. It's not just that the hero is a 'Nam veteran, or the Woodward and Bernstein political environment, it's in the setting and the hairstyles and the slang. You have to remember that "jive" existed in order to get some of these lines.

But you also see it in the film's attitude towards women, violence, and on-screen nudity… If you're the type that's easily offended, or can't bear the thought of a neo-Blaxploiton kung fu flick, you won't have a good time here. Over-the-top is the order of the day here, but it's used well. You also never get the sense that this is the result of film-makers with short attention spans.

Black Dynamite is not to be trifled with.

Yet if those aren't deal-breakers for you, you'll have a great time with a funny and inventive movie. "Black Dynamite" delivers strongly, and shows clever use of many types of comedy. I wouldn't want to spoil a good joke for anyone, but I laughed hard at all the intentional flaws, and the showdown kung fu fight was a treasure. Even if you find it a little offensive or dumb, it's easy to smile while watching a full-length version of fan-favorite scenes from "The Kentucky Fried Movie." Rent this if you want to have just sit back and have a good time watching a picture.

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