Black Dynamite: Like Shaft Played for Laughs

Thoroughly silly and enjoyable for film geeks who know the old '70s blaxploitation canon, Black Dynamite suffers from the Grindhouse paradox: As Quentin Tarantino discovered, not everyone outside his immediate circle of friends actually cares that much about lovingly reviving cinematic curios of the past. And Tarantino spent a lot more to achieve his little-seen tribute. Black Dynamite would've worked better as part of a Grindhouse triple bill, and there certainly would've been more dialogue to fill the dead spots. Co-writer and star Michael Jai White treats this material deadpan-straight, meaning that he and co-writer/director Scott Sanders recreate the stilted lines, stiff acting, cheap lighting, and leaps of plot logic that plagued the poor sons of Shaft. Grindhouse was expensive cheap; Black Dynamite is cheap cheap. And for those expecting a Zucker/Wayans brothers–style spoof, the gags don't come nearly fast enough. That said, I, a total film geek, giggled all the way through. Though the hugely buff White, as the kung fu-kickin', multiple-lady-lovin' ex-CIA agent Black Dynamite, is no Leslie Nielsen, he has his moments. When a ghetto lovely remarks that he never flirts or smiles, he responds from beneath clenched jaw and fixed, immobile moustache: "I am smiling."

 
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