Sundance 2009 Review: Scott Sanders' Black Dynamite
by Alex Billington
January 20, 2009
Hot damn, this was a fuckin' blast! I really don't think there is any better way to describe it. I don't know how Black Dynamite even got in here at Sundance, but it did. And it was one hell of an awesome world premiere experience. I could already tell from the trailer that this was going to be one crazy ass film and it certainly was. Michael Jai White kicks some serious ass and brings us a new cult classic that will earn some of the biggest laughs this entire year. For me especially, Black Dynamite is this year's Hell Ride - another midnight movie that earned my "fuckin' badass" title. Except this one is blaxploitation at its finest.
Black Dynamite tells the story of 1970s African-American action legend Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White). As far as I recall, there isn't any actual coherent story. It's sort of an amalgamation of all the things that make him a badass. Well, actually, when his brother is killed, Black Dynamite sets off to find out who did it. Along the way he discovers that the streets are being overrun with crack and there's a dirty secret behind the new Anaconda malt liquor. Eventually he makes his way from the streets to Kung Fu Island then all the way to the White House. I guess the point is that a film like this doesn't need a rational story.
The film is a hilarious throwback to the blaxploitation films of the 70s like Dolemite. The first 30 minutes of it are some of the funniest I've seen at this fest so far. I don't think I stopped laughing throughout the first half, but after that, things started to slowly die down. By the end, the film had become overly repetitious. The intro to the character was unforgettable, but after we got a good taste of all that, how would they keep up the laughs? Well, that's the problem. Although, I can definitely see Black Dynamite becoming a mainstream hit and that's thanks to Michael Jai White and director Scott Sanders. Can you dig it?
Sundance Rating: 8 out of 10