In the pantheon of parody-friendly film genres, blaxploitation cinema — namely the afro-ed superhero kind embodied by Shaft, Dolemite and The Mack — hardly needs gilding for jokes.
But the makers of the winningly nutty Black Dynamite (director/co- screenwriter Scott Sanders, and star/co-screenwriter Michael Jai White) keep the winking to a minimum by unleashing a straight-up '70s grindhouse flick.
Instead, they let all the deadpan badass-itude and no-frills filmmaking (graceless zooms, cheesy stock footage) spark plenty of retro-immersion laughter. The craftiest gag of all is that White, as the movie's leather-coated ghetto avenger — part CIA agent, part kung fu tornado and all ladies' man — is absurdly charming in his seriousness and is a genuinely terrific action presence.
In short order, he seduces an activist (Salli Richardson- Whitfield), outmaneuvers hustlers and pimps, and waylays plenty of pool-hall goons, drug dealers and white devils.
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As with most spoofs of this sort, there are lags when you're stuck watching a story play out to which you have no real connection beyond gags at the expense of melodrama, outdated urban fashions and large, unwieldy sedans.
But overall, Black Dynamite — captured with a saturated, grainy film stock and a funk-smothered underscore that only a midnight movie sucka could love — is an enjoyable celebratory ode to a fiercely entertaining counterculture-inspired genre.