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Black Dynamite (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 22, 2010 by  



Hilarious, creative and DY-NA-MITE!  “Black Dynamite” is a film that parodies ’70s blaxpoitation (and Kung-Fu) films.  The low-budget independent film manages to capture the era by its look, its music, and the cast’s performance.  Michael Jai White is just awesome playing the character of Black Dynamite.  I couldn’t stop laughing and in the end, I enjoyed it so much and I’m hoping for a sequel!  A solid Blu-release and definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2008 Black Dynamite, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Black Dynamite

DURATION: 84 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/ 1:85:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: R (For Sexuality/Nudity, Language, Some Violence and Drug Content)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: February 2, 2010

Directed by Scott Sanders

Original Story by Michael Jai White and Byron Minns

Screenplay by Michael Jai White, Byron Minns and Scott Sanders

Executive PRoducer: Deanna Berkeley, James Berkeley

Produced by Jenny Wiener Steingart, Jon Steingart

Co-Producer: Jillian Apfelbaum, Alison Engel, Steven Funk, Seth Harrison, Matt Richards, Jenna Segal, Paul Segal

Associate Producer: Intesar HAider

Line Producer: Charla Driver

Music by Adrian Younge

Cinematography by Shawn Maurer

Edited by Adrian Younge

Casting by Jason James, Rick Montgomery

Production Design by Denise Pizzini

Set Decoration by Antonia Nunez

Costume Design by Ruth E. Carter

Starring:

Michael Jai White as Black Dynamite

Salli Richardson-Whitfield as Gloria

Arsenio Hall as Tasty Freeze

Tommy Davidson as Cream Corn

Kevin Chapman as O’Leary

Ricahrd Edson as Dino

Darrel Heath as Militant 2

William Bassett as Captain Yancy

Buddy Lewis as Gunsmoke

Roger Yuan as Fiendish Dr. Wu

Byron Minns as Bullhorn

James McManus as Richard Nixon

Nicole Sullivan as Patricia Nixon

Meet Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White), the smoothest baddest cat on the street.  He’s a ladies’ man and the man with a plan.  He’s also a former C.I.A. agent out to avenge his brother’s death.  Whether he’s taking down drug dealers or sweet-talking foxy mommas, he’s the man out to stop The Man.  Take a wild ride from the mean streets of the ghetto to some funky clubs downtown, all the way to the “Honky House” with this bad-ass, tough-as-nails action hero.

It all began when actor Michael Jai White (“Spawn”, “The Dark Knight”, “The Underground Bounty Hunter”) was listening to “Superbad” by James Brown on his iPod and suddenly he came up with an idea to have a film spoofing ’70s blaxpoitation films (1970’s exploitation films targeting urban Black audiences).  White got together with a few friends and began taking photos of himself in ’70s outfits and hooked up with director Scott Sanders (“Thick as Thieves”) and their friend and fellow actor Byron Minns (“Undisputed”, “South Central”) to help craft “Black Dynamite”.

The low budget independent film was screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Sony Worldwide Acquisitions for distribution and now is being released on Blu-ray and DVD.

The film manages to retain the feel and look of a 1970’s film by using the Super 16 Color Reversal Kodak film stock and also feature 70’s style soul music and because the film was distributed by Sony, the filmmakers were able to utilize the company’s catalog and pickout certain television and movie scenes  from the ’70s such as car chases in the freeway, cars blowing up, people being shot and more to give the film an authentic feel.

“Black Dynamite” revolves around a former CIA agent named Black Dynamite (played Michael Jai White) who finds out his brother had been killed by the mafia.  He is recruited by government who tells him that his brother was killed by drug dealers, dealing with “smack” and now Dynamite, who swore to his mother that he would protect him, is now out for revenge.  Black Dynamite is a tough man but also a man who’s know to get his ladies.   The film also deals with Black Dynamite and his friends trying to stop smack from reaching to his community because he wants to help the orphans, because they have no parents and he was once an orphan but also to find out the secret about Anaconda Malt Liquor.

A hilarious film that captures the look and feel of blaxpoitation films but manages to be a fun and enjoyable film thanks to its characters which include Tommy Davidson (“In Living Color”, “Bamboozled”) as Cream Corn, Arsenio Hall (“The Arsenio Hall Show”, “Martial Law”) as Tasty Freeze and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (“Eureka”, “I Am Legend”) as Gloria, the intelligent and driven woman that Black Dynamite is trying to bed.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Black Dynamite” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  What the film does well is capturing the look of a 70’s film by shooting via 16mm color reversal which brought in more grain and contrast.  Blacks are deep and gave the film an older look.  Thus when combining 70’s classic footage (such as scenes from “Charlies Angels”, “Swat”, etc.) from the Sony Library, it works with this film.  The grain is intentional and so the colors are definitely not natural but it works for this film as yellows and brown colors definitely stick out and blacks are much deeper.  Also, the Blu-ray manages to capture the detail of the clothing, the hair, the hardware, the walls and surfaces.  It’s a very cool looking film on Blu-ray.

As for the lossless audio presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, again…I was very surprised and impressed by the audio.  It helps when they brought in Adrian Younge, a musician who still plays 70’s music and brought in that 70’s style of feel for the film.  Dialogue is clear through the center channels, music and action come on strong as well.  There are many action scenes from fighting to car chases, car explosions, gun shots, especially near the end of the film that takes advantage of the surround channels.

I suppose for a low budget independent film, I was not expecting too much from the audio.  So, to hear the lossless audio being utilized with crystal clear dialogue, music and special effects, I was very pleased with the film’s soundtrack!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Black Dynamite” comes with the following special features in standard and high definition with English stereo. Included are:

  • Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Scott Sanders, Actor/Co-Writer Michael Jai White and Actor/Co-Writer Byron Minns – A fun and hilarious commentary as the three creators of the film talk about certain scenes and how it came about, what they were trying to achieve and more.
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes – (25:15) Featuring 17 deleted and alternate scenes.
  • Lighting the Fuse – (22:48) The making of “Black Dynamite”.  How the film came to be, the music, the costumes, the look on film and more.
  • The 70’s Back in Action – (14:13) Michael Jai White, Scott Sanders, cast and crew talk about utilizing styles and lingo from ’70s blaxpoitation films in “Black Dynamite” and what they enjoyed about the films and the talents back then.
  • The Comic-Con Experience – (18:03) The “Black Dynamite” panel at San Diego Comic Con with Scott Sanders, Byron Minns, Michael Jai White and Salli Richardson Whitifeld.
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming releases from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
  • BD- Live enabled with movieIQ – This BD-Live feature can connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie! Also includes an interactive playlist where you can bookmark your favorite songs featured in the film and email yourself a customized playlist! NOTE: You need a profile 2.0 Blu-ray player (that connect online) to access movieIQ.

At first, I was a bit skeptical about “Black Dynamite” but after watching the film, I can tell you that I absolutely enjoyed this film.

The storyline spoofs ’70s blaxpoitation and Kung-Fu films but where a lot of those films back then were cheesy and were being pumped out like crazy because they were what was making money for the film companies during that time, “Black Dynamite” manages to capture the good from those films and make it a hilarious, action/comedy film.   What makes this film work is the costume design, the afro’s, the slang, the jive talk, utilizing ’70s footage, along with finding homes that still have maintained the ’70s look (yes, shag carpets and all) and of course, the use of ’70s style funk and soul music. For characters, you got the jive-talking pimps, the militants, the crooked cops and politicians, the whores, the drug dealers…all integral to the film with dialogue filled with’70s expletives and ethnic slurs.  An obvious nod to “Shaft”, “Superfly”, “The Mack”, “Return of the Dragon” and “Foxy Brown” and other films and the talents of that era.

Just a tremendous job by the filmmakers and performances that worked for this film.  The fact that it was done for under $3 million is quite impressive!

From the naked women, to the militant and his men armed with machine guns, the talent made this film quite believable as if it was a ’70s film.  The choice by director Scott Sanders to use the Super 16 Color Reversal film stock was a perfect choice as the film literally looks and feels like like a ’70s film.  For a low budget independent film, the Blu-ray manages to enhance the look and feel of this film as you can see a good amount of grain and the colors are just vibrant.  Audio quality from the dialogue, music and the special effects are well-done and also a good amount of special features are included as well.

If there was one thing that I felt wasn’t impressive was the studio’s handling of the distribution for the film for its theatrical release.  There have been a lot of small, absolutely dumb comedy films that have received decent screenings across America and for once, we have a creative and enjoyable African American comedy film written and directed by African-Americans with a multi-ethnic cast and a film that has received positive reviews from film critics but yet it received a very limited screening nationwide.  Definitely not cool.  But fortunately we get a solid Blu-ray release for “Black Dynamite” and if you have any interest in this film, I can easily recommend this film to be included in your collection.

“Black Dynamite” is a film that just makes you laugh from beginning to end.   For those with familiarity with blaxpoitation and even old Kung-Fu films, you can’t help but be amused and impressed by what the filmmakers were able to accomplish.  Even for those who aren’t familiar with the films back then, there are enough jokes that viewers can still enjoy.  It’s a well-crafted, very creative film that is worth checking out and worth owning, especially if you enjoy comedy films.  And yes, I am hoping that there is a sequel.

“Black Dynamite” is a solid Blu-ray release and definitely recommended!

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