In a time when the modern spoof is dead and overdone, not only reawakens this form of satire, but it pokes fun at a previously untouched genre: the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s. If you remember (which I’m sure you don’t unless you are forty and above), Blaxploitation (combination of “black” and “exploitation”) films focused on creating movies that targeted the urban black audience by emphasizing gore, violence and funk. Movies like and primarily starred black actors as tough characters out for revenge against drug dealers, gangsters or anyone who wronged them in general.
Most Blaxploitation films were over the top and were exaggerated in an effort to create black heroes in an era when they were needed most. But what resulted were mostly awful and poorly edited films that were easier to laugh at than take seriously. This was the main focus of : to recreate the ridiculousness that was Blaxploitation film. Played by Michael Jai White (most of you will probably remember him as the star of and Gambol in ), is the story of a smooth, black kung fu expert (aptly named Black Dynamite) out to avenge his younger brother’s death. Along his path of righteousness he fights thugs, woos women and takes his fight from the ghetto all the way up to Capitol Hill.
In general, the film was hilarious and humor was delivered at the right moments. However, what made this spoof awesome was the fact that it took itself seriously and delivered comedy in the best way, using pure subtlety. Most spoofs today like and the seemingly endless franchise focus on creating movies that link as many recent blockbusters together as they can so they can make fun of them all in two hours. Spoofs today often feel like a compilation of shorter spoofs that focus on lampooning current events in pop culture and media, rather than a particular movie genre itself. Any actual satire present in the movie is usually obvious or consists of overplayed bodily humor and sexual innuendos. The characters themselves are normally insignificant and only function to connect one obvious parody to the next.
was different because it had an original story with an authentic character, and yet still maintained that taste of a true spoof. The titular character embodied the characteristics of all Blaxploitation heroes: he was smooth, good with the ladies, out for blood and he could kick butt like it’s nobody’s business. was also original because the character wasn’t stopping randomly to point out logical flaws in the plot (as most main characters of spoofs do) and he wasn’t morphing to match the main character of the next movie being lampooned. Black dynamite wasn’t going from Leonidas to Peter Parker to Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds; he stayed Black Dynamite throughout.
The absurdity of the Blaxploitation genre was presented in how Black Dynamite won all his fights before walking into the room, the deliberately poorly edited parts of the film, his seemingly mystical abilities over women and the bombastic dialogue of the characters in the movie. There was no point in the movie where I singled out John Shaft, Dolemite or other parodied scenes from similar Blaxploitation films because was fresh and still embodied all of the movies it ridiculed.
was even authentic in its look. The cinematographer for the movie employed a camera that gave it the high contrast and saturated look of films from the ‘70s. In the end, Michael Jai White and his team successfully parodied the Blaxploitation films by focusing on making a new and original Blaxploitation film rather than simply making just another spoof.