The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

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Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Monday, March 8, 2010

Black Dynamite (2009)

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The moment I first saw a trailer for this on Blood and Bone, I needed to see it as soon as possible. As far as I can tell, though it was made in 2008, it had a limited theatrical release in 2009, and then finally came out on DVD a few weeks ago. As always, Netflix didn't have it immediately available, and I didn't have my hopes up, but suddenly it went from Long Wait to For Saturday: Black Dynamite. I'm glad it did.

Black Dynamite is a 70s blaxploitation spoof co-written by and starring Michael Jai White in the lead role, Black Dynamite. The plot is Black Dynamite's younger brother is killed, and as he investigates the murder, he uncovers a governmental conspiracy aimed at attacking African American males where it hurts.

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This is one of the most amazing films I've ever seen. Spoofing the 70s and blaxploitation films seems like an easy affair, but the reality is it can be done poorly so many ways, and this film carried it out as well as can be expected-- maybe even better. They reference so many classics, you name it, they cover it. The jokes, though often ridiculous, never stray from their original purpose, and always work. It would be too easy to just throw in everything but the kitchen sink, but what makes Black Dynamite so great is they know when to stop and when to go over the edge. This isn't just an Airplane style take on 70s blaxploitation, this is a unique and hilarious spoof and homage of their own to the genre.

It's no secret that Michael Jai White is a favorite here at the DTVC, and this just makes it even better. You're used to seeing him play the hard, no-nonsense, angry asskicking hero, but he's right at home comedically here. I'm not saying he should never do films like Blood and Bone again, because he's awesome in those too; but he should definitely do more comedies as well, especially when he writes them like he did this, because he was hilarious. The fact that he's a great martial artist, and he can be such a great comedic actor too, is a double threat that I'm not sure anyone else in the industry has. I hate to keep harping on this point, but it just shows again how horribly he was wasted in The Dark Knight. This is the movie that should've made hella cash, not that one.

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Usually as I'm capturing images (which if you're curious, I captured a bunch from this one, because it was so good and had so many good people), I listen to the audio commentary to get a sense of what the people involved were thinking as they made it. In this case, as I was listening, they were so funny, I had to watch the whole thing again to listen to the commentary, which I almost never do with any movie. In addition to Michael Jai White, director Scott Sanders, and co-writer Byron Minnis went over everything, from what this or that joke was in reference to, to what scenes people couldn't keep a straight face for, to what guy was killed 6 times. It was almost as funny as the movie itself, and if you liked it as much as I did, seeing it again with the commentary is well worth it.

One thing you'll love about this is all the guest stars. I got images of some of them on the image page for you, and if you can believe it, there were even more than that. Tommy Davidson as the Huggy Bear role was as great as you'd imagine. Somehow, NESN, the sports channel owned by the Red Sox here in New England, snagged Davidson to host their stand-up comedy show. That amazes me, because I'm not sure I've seen a comedic actor as consistently funny as he is, and he should be doing more movies instead of hosting a stand-up show on a local cable channel. Then you've got guys like Arsenio Hall, Miguel Núñez jr., Reno 911's Cedric Yarbrough, retired NBA great John Salley, R&B singer Bryan McKnight, and DTVC favorite Bokeem Woddbine all playing pimps. Phil Morris, aka Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld, plays a Black Panther leader. Kim Whitley plays a madam at a brothel that Black Dynamite looks out for. Some of the best performances were by non-comedic actors, like Salli Richardson-Whitfield as Gloria, the lead actress. The way she played her part so seriously and professionally, even though it was supposed to be so funny, just made the whole thing work that much more.

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I'm afraid to say too much about specific scenes, because part of what makes them funny is how they come out of now where, but one little touch they threw in were some intentional mistakes that you should look out for. One I noticed right away was the boom mike. How many times have we watched bad action films and seen the boom mike peek in from the top of the screen. For them to do it on purpose was hilarious. Another that I didn't catch until I listened to the commentary, but that I want to draw your attention to if you don't plan on listening to it, is the Black Panther who reads not only his lines, but all his cues in parenthesis as well. Black Dynamite asks him and his cohorts "Who's in charge here?", and instead of saying (sarcastically) "I'm in charge", he says "Sarcastically, I'm in charge". It didn't make sense until it was explained in the commentary.

If you haven't already, you need to get after this. This is funnier and more awesome than you can imagine. I'm not running off a string of hyperbole here either. Best new film on DVD so far this year, and probably one of the best comedies you'll ever see. As far as I can tell, there's no need to make another spoof/tribute to the 70s blaxploitation genre, because the definitive film is right here.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1190536/

8 comments:

  1. Dying to see it, the previews for it make it look hilarious, by the sound of your review, it probably is! Cant wait!

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  2. It's better than the trailer, if you can believe that. This is the real deal.

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  3. I saw this film and I personally was disappointed as the jokey tone killed it by trying too hard. I Gonna Git You Sucka did it all so much better. Indeed it's not bad just not as good as people made out.

    Since you're on a binge of comic books why not go and review Spawn with Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo because that movie was a lot of Bad Movie fun. Indeed it wasn't nearly as cool as the comic, I didn't read comics except for Spawn and The Punisher after Dolph Lundgren. You might want to check it out.

    Also see Punisher War Zone which was great, in my mind it was even a better Punisher movie than the Dolph Lundgren version. (Which is high praise) The Punisher with Dolph has a higher rewatch factor but the Punisher War Zone is pure awesomeness as well.

    The Travolta/Thomas Jane debacle was a boring load of crap and deserves to be obscure. I can't imagine teenagers seeing such and being like "Whoa!" It was so boring, only The Russian fight was any good.

    Also you should get on the ball and get the Relentless series reviewed. The first two are pretty sweet, 3 and 4 well I'm seeing so I can review it.

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  4. I too loved War Zone(though Stevenson was a little stiff at times) but I also admittedly didn't think the 2004 Punisher was THAT bad, granted it was definitely flawed, the main downside to it was that it jumped from being deadly serious to being comedic too often, the film would've been alot better if they'd done with lame scenes like the popsical torture sequence(I know it was in the comic, but not everything in comic books looks good on screen) and that damn tango scene, which ruined an otherwise cool fight scene, who the hell thought that was a good idea?! Also Travolta wasn't particularly memorable or interesting as Howard Saint, and the less said about those annoying neighboors the better. But IMO Jane was the best Punisher as he gave the character more dimension and depth then Lundgren did and wasn't as stiff as Stevenson and the action scenes were competently directed. and P.S. just so you know Matt, Netflix has both of the Black Scorpion films availible if you're interested.

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  5. transmogrication, treachery and kung fu...this shit was super awesome.

    Everybody needs to see Black Dynamite

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  6. I am doing both Punisher films, the Jane and the Stevenson, this week. Spawn is one I should've considered, but at this stage of the game, I have my itinerary set, as I'm going to finish off the next two weeks with Steel (if it comes in time) and Supergirl, and then on the last week, Batman and Robin and the classic old Batman from the 60s.

    I'm surprised you didn't dig this one Ryan, because I personally didn't find it too jokey. I actually liked it better on some levels than I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, though that one was great too. For me, too jokey would've been a bad Airplane style take, which they didn't do. If you haven't, you should check it out with the commentary.

    Finally, Michael, I went to Netflix, and Black Scorpions 1 and 2 are listed for Save only. Was I not looking at the right Black Scorpions?

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  7. Oh they were on Save Only? That really sucks man! However I own both Black Scorpion films and i'd be more then happy to send you both, though I only got the 2nd one on VHS as the DVD was a little too expensive.

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  8. If you want to send them, that would be great. I can also see what the story is with getting my hands on them after I get back home next week. Let me know, and I can always e-mail you my mailing address.

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