Aug 17, 2010

Check it, jive turkey!

11:59 PM

Films like Shaft, Foxy Brown and Undercover Brother styled funkalicious jazzy soundtracks, tough black heroes and heroines and corrupt white cops and politicians. A new genre was born, both exploiting and celebrating black culture, targeting urban African-American audiences with its style and subject matter.

Today, some of the best of these films have become cult favorites, and have influenced new filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, whose Jackie Brown paid explicit homage to the genre he'd grown up on and loved. Shaft was recently remade in slick Hollywood style by John Singleton; but for the original low budget style and campy flair you had to go to the bargain dvd versions. Undercover Brother takes up where other blaxploitation spoofs left off and does so with reckless abandon and a no-holds barred style that moves fast with nonstop action, a little romance, and free-flowing jokes.

Created by Scott Sanders and Michael Jai White, Black Dynamite tells the story of a righteous brother, who's got martial art skills and knows just how to satisfy the ladies. What he can't do is what he promised his mother on her death bed: protect his brother from the drug gangs that are destroying the inner city. Upon hearing that his brother was killed, he swears revenge and sets out on a mission to discover those responsible. It turns out this was no simple task - his brother's assassination was part of a vast conspiracy to demoralize blacks by hitting them where it hurts the most, and the conspiracy goes all the way to the top: President Richard Nixon, who it turns out, has some sweet moves all his own.

The film is laugh out loud high-larious- talking all absurdness,raunchy and cool elements of traditional 70's blaxploitation films like Superfly and Dolemite, and tying them together into an absurdly funny epic revenge and save-the-world superman type shiat.

Part of the appeal is that the film mimics the on-the-fly imperfection of the old B-movie style Blaxploitation. Boom mikes occasionally appear in the shot, distracting the actor; obvious continuity problems (a woman whose tear of sadness appears and then disappears and reappears as the camera cuts back and forth between her and the actor; is suddenly replaced by a stand-in mid-scuffle, after he is obviously injured by a punch) add to the overall lightheartedness of the endeavor.

What shocked me, though, was that the film was not mocking blaxploitation, but rather paying homage. The filmmakers clearly loved every minute of it and so did I.

"Because whenever there's injustice, wrongs to be righted,innocents to be defended, Black Dynamite will be there, delivering ass-whuppings. and I will not hesitate to lay the hammer down on any clown that comes around."-Black Dynamite

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