Toronto After Dark 2009: Black Dynamite


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Black Dynamite

Directed by Scott Sanders

Although director Scott Sanders’ Black Dynamite is being touted as a brazen spoof of 70’s blaxploitation films, its tone is less ‘spoof ‘ than it is simply tongue-in-cheek.  Yes, there are pimps, pushers, ho’s, nunchucks, polyester suits and 8-track tapes, but Sanders does not rely on these conventions to be the butt of the joke.  What makes Black Dynamite unabashedly funny are the super-machismo one-liners and wildly absurd action sequences.

After The Man murders his brother, pumps heroin into the local orphanage and pours tainted malt liquor in the neighborhood, ex-CIA agent Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) takes his fight from the ghetto to the White House.  If it sounds like there’s a lot going on in Black Dynamite, that’s because co-writers White and Byron Minns have amusingly amalgamated every conspiracy or plot twist you might find in the sub-genre., and like any Bond film, there’s no point in trying to make sense of the logic; half the fun is watching Black Dynamite kick and shoot his way to justice.

White superbly plays Dynamite with the same gravitas and sex appeal as Richard Roundtree’s Shaft and Fred Williamson’s Hammer – only breaking character briefly when a boom mic inadvertently hits his fro.  His comic timing is impeccable when delivering his priceless one-liners such as, “who the hell is interrupting my kung-fu?!,” and his impressive martial arts skills make his action hero a formidable foe for The Man.

blackdynamitewideSanders wisely avoids the cliché of adding scratches or blemishes to the movie to recreate the Grindhouse film look.  Instead, he successfully recreates the blaxploitation era by incorporating 70’s film stock, poor edits and a soulful soundtrack.

In an age of political correctness, there’s no doubt that many audiences will find little humour in Black Dynamite, with its plethora of black stereotypes and misogynist references.  Indeed, some viewers may wonder if it’s appropriate to laugh.  But one thing is for certain: Black Dynamite is destined to be a cult favourite if not an outright phenomenon.  Can you dig it?

Nigel Hamid

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