black dynamite movie review

After seeing the pseudo-blaxploitation flick Black Dynamite, I couldn’t help but leave the theater feeling, “righteous.” The film has made its way across the festival circuit, including premieres at Sundance and Tribeca and finally is nearing its release for the masses. Black Dynamite overly dramatizes everything you love about 1970’s African American cinema and turns it into a modern day action comedy. Dust off your afro pick, oil sheen, and your handle bar mustache because you’re in for a psychadelic trip.

Check out our review of Black Dynamite

The Players:

  • Director: Scott Sanders
  • Screenwriters: Michael Jai White Byron Minns, Scott Sanders
  • Cast: Michael Jai White, Kym Whitley, Tommy Davidson, Byron Minns, Salli-Richardson-Whitfield, Mykelti Williamson, John Salley, and Arsenio Hall.

The Plot:

Black Dynamite is a neighborhood legend, a skilled martial artist, and a former C.I.A. operative who’s seeking revenge after his younger brother falls victim to the local drug trade. He goes after the usual suspects to solve his murder, and eliminate the growing drug problem in the neighborhood. While on his mission, he meets up with a group of pseudo Black Panthers, and a beautiful Foxy Brown looking woman (Richardson-Whitfield) who happens to work at the local orphanage. Black Dynamite will need all his connections and street smarts to avenge his brother’s death, get the drugs off the streets, and win the heart of his reluctant leading lady.

The Good:

  • Set Design: This film was a true representation of the 1970′s and the blaxploitation era in film. While watching it, you really do believe the footage was shot over 30 years ago. So much detail went into the various buildings, cars, and props that you forget it’s a satire. As a viewer you believe it as the real deal.
  • Lighting: One of the most challenging aspects of any film shoot is lighting. The proper lighting can make or break any scene, and in this film’s case it made it. There’s a certain dingy, filtered color that dominates the movie and instead of being distracting it gave it an old school feel.
  • Salli-Richardson Whitfield: This actress was the perfect fit for the female lead. At some points during the movie you have to do a double take to make sure it’s her and not Pam Grier. She embodies everything African-American women of that day represented and more. She did an excellent job at being strong, but vulnerable when it came to Black Dynamite’s advances. She was an excellent counterpart to his character.
  • Michael Jai White: This was the role he was born to play. The combination of the costumes, the dialogue and his natural athletic ability made his portrayal of Black Dynamite honest and believable. White is an accomplished martial artist in reality, and that training came in handy when he had to go toe to toe with the multiple villains in the film. No one could have played this part with his precision.
  • The Screenplay: The story for Black Dynamite could have been a hard pill to swallow for some writers, but White, Minns, and Sanders wonderfully wove together several blaxploitation flicks into one, without weighing down the film. There were certain elements taken from Shaft, Dolemite, Superfly, and the like but they still managed to give this Black Dynamite its own identity.

The Bad:

  • Nothing: Black Dynamite is truly a diamond in the rough that accomplished so many things that others have failed at. The film executes its script flawlessly, and keeps viewers intrigued along the way.


Black Dynamite is a legitimate portrait of one of the most controversial and entertaining genres of filmmaking history. With a cast filled with talented actors, led by a visionary director, we get to experience a piece of cinematic gold. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys comedy, action, and great storytelling. Black Dynamite truly is out of sight.

Rating 10/10

Black Dynamite hits theaters everywhere Friday, October 16, 2009.

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