Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Deleted/Alternate Scenes
In an era where movies are continually reimagined and remade, it is nice to see there are still filmmakers who are simply inspired. Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, and Scott Sanders obviously have a deep love for blaxsploitation films of yesteryear. Rather than sit around and discuss their love for the genre, they explode on the screen with 'Black Dynamite'. The film, which is part homage and part satire, follows African-American legend Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) as he avenges the death of his brother and strives to clean the streets of heroin and a malt liquor with some crippling side effects. The simple premise leads the characters into a variety of situations of extreme circumstance. With a cast that also includes Tommy Davidson, Arsenio Hall, and Nicole Sullivan; 'Black Dynamite' provides plenty of laughs within all of the action.
Following in the wake of the grindhouse resurgence ushered in by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, 'Black Dynamite' also has a very specific audience in mind – fans of 1970's blaxsploitation cinema. While any viewer will be able to find humor in the absurd plotlines and dialogue, fans of 'Coffy', 'Disco Godfather', and 'Dolemite' will be particularly delighted by the authenticity of 'Black Dynamite'. This film fits in 1974. It doesn't take an extreme approach to collect viewers, as 'Planet Terror' did by going over the top with gore. 'Black Dynamite' plays it straight, and this could ultimately hurt the film's legacy in the long run. Those who put this film on a pedestal will be the same core collection of genre fans that catch every wink, nod, and homage the movie has to offer. As for the majority of audiences who have not previously been exposed to blaxsploitation? That group will likely take a generalized knowledge of the genre and only hear one note played throughout the eighty-four minute runtime.
If you played 'Black Dynamite' for an unsuspecting audience, it would take a little time for people to realize it was made in 2009. Rather than 'beat up' the print in post production, the film is shot on Super 16 mm Color Reversal Kodak stock, so it has the aged look of a movie from the seventies. The colors are saturated and there is a heavy grain throughout, allowing Scott Sanders his intended presentation of an authentic, low budget blaxsploitation movie. How does this transfer to Blu-Ray? The 1.85:1/1080p film looks outstanding…for what it is. 'Black Dynamite' will never be a reference disc to sell someone on the benefits of high definition cinema. With authenticity of an era as an inspiration, 'Black Dynamite' should be commended for its weathered look.
One thing that wasn't around in the seventies was a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue is crisp and clear. The rear speakers are used for gunshots, kung fu fights, and the spectacular vintage soundtrack. There are truly no complaints with the included audio track. It creates a lively sound field that compliments the on screen activity well. The purist in me would have liked a mono soundtrack included on the disc, if only to add to the overall retro experience.
'Black Dynamite' has a wide variety of supplements, including some that are exclusive to the Blu-Ray version of the film. Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, and Scott Sanders come together and present an informative commentary. It's not overly technical, but does provide a wealth of information which gives some additional depth to the film. Hidden away within the information about how particular scenes were shot and inspired, there are a few amusing 'war stories' from the set which provide some chuckles.
Presented in standard definition, there are also eleven deleted scenes and six alternate/extended scenes included on the disc. While the majority of them are quite amusing, leaving them on the cutting room floor shows how committed the filmmakers were to making sure the film is satire, rather than parody.
'Lighting The Fuse' is a high definition extra that digs into the origins of the film. A couple of highlights explain how a low budget trailer was shot to sell the idea of the film and seems to be the cornerstone of all supplements on the disc. While the other extra features provide some nuggets of information, 'Lighting The Fuse' seems to cover the bulk of how Michael Jai White became 'Black Dynamite'. The high definition 'Comic Con Experience' doesn't really cover any new ground, but it is nice to hear the crowd get excited about what 'Black Dynamite' as to offer.
'The 70's: Back In Action' is a Blu-Ray exclusive that focuses on where the fantastic seventies era costumes came from and how authentic recording the music really is to the seventies roots. MovieIQ is included on the disc and is a 'pop-up' video inspired extra that gives additional information about the cast and crew, the music playing in particular scenes, and location information. MovieIQ does require an internet connection to utilize this feature. The disc also has trailers for 'Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day', 'Universal Soldier: Regeneration', 'H2: Halloween 2', 'Kung Fu Hustle', 'Moon', 'Snatch', 'Soul Power', 'Breaking Bad', 'Michael Jackson's This Is It', and 'Zombieland'.
'Airplane' brought humor to disaster films. 'Austin Powers' showed the world how groovy 1960's spy films could be. 'Black Dynamite' takes a similar approach with a sub-genre that many have not been exposed to. A solid audio and video presentation compliment some informative extra features, At the end of the day 'Black Dynamite' may not be for everyone. For fans who like kung fu fighting, pimp slapping, and gun blasting all rolled up into eighty-four minutes of entertainment, 'Black Dynamite' may be the flick that deserves a spot in the Blu-Ray collection.