Black Dynamite: Hilarious hit at Sundance

What he can't do is what he promised his mother on her death bed: protect his brother from the drug lords that are destroying the inner city. Upon hearing that his brother was killed, he swears revenge and sets out on a quest to discover those responsible. It turns out this was no simple hit - his brother's assassination was part of a vast conspiracy to disempower blacks by hitting them where it hurts the worst, and the conspiracy goes all the way to the top: President Richard Nixon himself, who, it turns out, has some sweet kung fu moves all his own.

The film is hilarious, taking all of the absurd, campy, 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 flick. 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 big BD; an 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. Best of all, though, is Michael Jai White's absolute immersion in character as a tough-as-nails crusader whose soft heart and shy demeanor only occasionally surfaces.  A very funny film.

For more reviews of Sundance premieres, see our website.

Sunday's premiere midnight screening of Black Dynamite had the audience laughing and cheering as its inscrutable tough guy hero saves the world from "the man."  The film was among the first to be picked up by a distributor at Sundance, when Sony Pictures bought the film for an estimated $2 million after intense overnight negotiations that closed at 6 a.m. following the premiere.  From what I saw, expect the film to be a breakout hit - this is very likely not the last film we'll see starring Michael Jai White as Black Dynamite.

I met the director (along with editor and incredible music director Adrian Younge) the night before - when nobody knew who he was - while moving in line to see another highly anticipated comedy (Mystery Team). Luckily I had my Flip Video Camcorder in my pocket, as he agreed to answer a few questions on camera. The following clip combines elements of the trailer with parts of that interview:

Created by Scott Sanders and Michael Jai White, Black Dynamite tells the tale of a righteous brother, who's got kung fu skills and knows just how to please the ladies.

Scroll to read more Local Arts articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.