Black Dynamite

Black Dynamite

Black Dynamite is the only one brave enough to take on the baddies who killed his brother in this homage to 1970s blaxploitation flicks.

Year: 2009
Certificate: 15
Director: Scott Sanders
Starring: Arsenio HallMykelti WilliamsonMichael Jai WhiteTommy DavidsonKevin ChapmanSalli Richardson-WhitfieldMike StarrPhil MorrisNicole Ari ParkerBrian McKnightNicole SullivanKym WhitleyBuddy Lewis

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Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are still relative outliers when it comes to their loving embrace of grindhouse cinema. But “Black Dynamite”, with its awkward production values, clichéd revenge narrative, gratuitous sex and quotable catchphrases feels even closer to its 70s-era source.

Scott Sanders’ film is an affectionate parody of the “Blaxploitation” genre, and the film’s perfect recreation of that very specific strain of low budget genre fare is by far its strongest suit. Black Dynamite (played by a committed Michael Jai White) is a high-kicking, smooth-talking ex-CIA agent who’s called back into action when his brother is murdered.

The film functions more as a parody than a straightforward throwback, making it feel closer to something like “Machete” than some of Tarantino and Rodriguez’s more prestigious fare. The absurdist tone does mean that the film is burdened by the need to be funny, which it often isn’t. I smiled quite a bit, and laughed a couple of times (not the orphans!), but that’s still a poor hit-rate when compared to the constant stream of “gags”.

Maybe my minimal acquaintance with the subgenre meant I didn’t get some of the inside jokes, or maybe I needed to watch it with a pint and a bunch of mates, but I wasn’t laughing enough. Which is a problem because watching it straight just makes it seem like a cheap, and cheesy, revenge thriller.

“Black Dynamite” looks and sounds the real deal and has enough sex, guns, drugs, kung fu, funk and soul for a dozen Blaxploitation parodies, but the laughs aren’t consistent enough. Fans of the films Sanders and co. are referencing may have a different experience, but I can’t recommend it for the uninitiated.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!


About Benedict

Freelance culture journalist and Film Studies graduate. Netflix is his happy place.

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4 thoughts on “Black Dynamite

  1. It’s probably the funniest American film I’ve seen I’ve watched it multiple times. The only problem with the film is it goes of track a bit at the end. The scene in the white house is a bit weak. I advise a second watch as people pick up on things they missed. I heard there was supposed to be a sequel set in the 80’s which would be great to see.

    1. I’ve seen a few people say that, but I just didn’t laugh very much. Yeah, I get what you mean: totally random. I saw that mentioned, but the news seems to have gone quiet…

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