Blu-ray Review: Black Dynamite (2009)

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One of the hazards of being Black Dynamite is the fact that every once in awhile you forget you have a roughed up dude locked in your trunk. Seeing how each day shakes out, Dynamite (Michael Jai White) is never sure if he's going to fill in at a whorehouse when the ladies of the night are sans pimp or if he'll be laying some nunchuck smack-down on Tricky Dick Nixon in Oval Office ("Honky House") style Kung Fu combat.

when he finds out his "only brother Jimmy" is dead, Black Dynamite's mission becomes super clear. Using his background in the CIA and Vietnam to track exact revenge, word spreads quickly that no man-- and especially The Man-- is safe from our man who is ready for action whether it's in the form of violence or lovin'.

As Mel Brooks once said, in order to make a good spoof, you have to love and respect the original material and it's obvious from the start that screenwriters Michael Jai White, Scott Sanders, and Byron Minns aren't just Blaxploitation buffs but know exactly which films to cull from at what times for the best impact. Although it's using a pretty straightforward vengeance plot-line, within the first hilarious act you realize it's one painstakingly crafted Blaxploitation riff.

Whether it's Richard Pryor onstage or random snippets of scenes, Black Dynamite utilized old stock footage from the quickly shot, low budget, over-the-top movies of the '70s it lovingly lampoons. Far more impressively than just piecing together clips, the film's visually saturated color scheme of director Scott Sanders' movie seamlessly matches the old work via lensman Shaun Maurer's Super 16 color reversal cinematography, without any digitally enhancement or expensive trickery.

It's this degree of authenticity that-- even on a subconscious level-- transports viewers instantly to the era far easier than the ultra high-gloss look of successful spoofs such as Mike Myers' Austin Powers trilogy, which despite laughs, never for a moment felt like the work you were watching could get mistaken for something from the '60s.

And, similar to Justin Lin's Finishing the Game, even though some jokes feel a bit repetitive, you have to applaud the knowledge, ambition and bravery involved in the film for avoiding the easy, cliched way out of giving us a bright, "Have a Nice Day" '70s picture.

Likewise, even if you're not a Blaxploitation expert, you can also take pleasure in the way it ribs old movie-making techniques like phone call split-screens that keep going if someone forgets to hang up the phone or flashbacks filled with awkward exposition such as "I am sixteen-year-old Black Dynamite and you are my kid brother Jimmy."

White is a riot from the start from knowing that the key to maintaining uproarious laughter is playing it Shakespeare straight. And hands down, the most ingenious scene in the film that I immediately had to rewind was the convoluted denouement where all of a sudden everything magically clicks into place, from one ridiculous clue to the next.

Taking us back in time mentally to 785 BC to assess Greek Gods to "Zodiological Astronomy" by way of the Mars Candy Company while hanging out at the Waffle House, suddenly Black Dynamite understood the plan they'd gotten hit with by The Man.

A terrifically inventive and fun escapist spoof, while you don't necessarily require the Blu-ray version to appreciate the humor and visual style since it's purposely grainy, the disc which also contains commentary, deleted and alternate scenes, and two featurettes, also boasts two high definition only extras to help give the Blu more bang for the buck.

In addition to the mini-doc "The '70s: Back in Action," Sony and Apparition (the same companies bringing us The Young Victoria!) also offer Sony's exclusive Blu-ray invention movieIQ which is a buff's best friend, offering you endless trivia without ever needing to yell "Freeze Turkeys" just like Dynamite and pause the film.

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FTC Disclosure:
Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.