The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 84 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French
Starring: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Kevin Chapman
Directed by: Scott Sanders
Music by: Adrian Younge
Written by: Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, Scott Sanders
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 16, 2010
"He's super bad. He's outta sight. He's Black Dynamite!"
An all-star cast led by Michael Jai White is featured in this 1970's-style blaxploitation action fiilm about the legendary super crime fighter "Black Dynamite." The Man killed his brother, pumped heroin into local orphanages, and flooded the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor. Black Dynamite was the one hero willing to fight The Man all the way from the blood-soaked city streets to the hallowed halls of the Honky House.
I grew up in the 1970's and remember going to the theater to see blaxploitation films which were popular at the time. We were kids and didn't see them as exploitive but as film's that featured African-American stars and social themes/dialogue that seemed poignant at the time. I remember going to see Coffee (with Pam Grier), Blackula, Superfly (with Ron Neil), The Mack, Three the hard way, (with Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, and Jim Kelly) Tough, and Black Ceaser (with Fred Williamson). It was a time of big hair, platform shoes, and lots of talk about The Man. There were a variety of genres which included comedy, action, horror, and coming of age. As a kid these films were lots of fun and featured characters and subject matter that seemed larger than life (at the time). Back then going to the movies cost somewhere around $1.50 for a matinee and it made for a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Black Dynamite is a parody/spoof that pokes fun at the blaxploitation action film genre. Like the films it spoofs, it features a predominantly all black cast and specifically references the early 1970's era in visual style, theme, and dialogue.
Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White), is a former CIA agent, who is called back into the business when the mafia kills his brother Jimmy, fills black orphanages with heroin, and floods the street with Anaconda malt liquor which contains an experimental drug that has an unusual side effect on black men. He soon discovers a vast conspiracy perpetrated by the white man to keep the brothers down. He pulls out all of the stops in order to keep the smack off the streets, thwart the plan, and avenge the death of Jimmy. Little does Black Dynamite know that the conspiracy goes all the way to the top!
Oh man, I had a blast watching this hilarious film. It is clearly evident that writers Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, and Scott Sanders have a passion for the subject matter. They did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of what these films were like by meticulously recreating the look, feel, and dialogue while spinning a web of hilarity that plays out like a comical ode to a bygone era. It faithfully employs the revenge type plotline, the white man's conspiracy, and the one man army that's going to bring it all down with his 6 shot cannon and kung fu chops concept.. Terms like honky, sucka, hustler, pusher, smack (heroine), solid, power to the people and can you dig it? run rampant. I got a kick out of the Curtis Mayfield style music and the frequently integrated use of the a cappella Dyno-mite that resounds every time Black Dynamite does something amazing. Black Dynamite succeeds in its clever attention to detail which is carefully interwoven so as to be subtle but overtly accurate in its depiction. It is here that I found it to be so rewarding. I wouldn't say that being familiar with blaxploitation films is required to enjoy this but I think it will allow you to get the most out of it. The cast features a great mix of funnymen, who add to the merriment with the addition of their own unique comedic styles. The filmmakers further pay homage by giving the film a visual style and soundtrack reminiscent of the period. I had a ball with Black Dynamite and thoroughly enjoyed its blend of well crafted humor and faithfully based retro theme which pays tribute to film's by gone era.
The rating is for sexuality/nudity, language, some violence and drug content.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Black Dynamite comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 mbps.
This is a solid looking high def presentation that uses an intentionally stylized visual design that offers high levels of grain, dynamic contrast and varying degrees of chromatic saturation. It boasts clean, well depicted colors that offer a good mix of secondary hues that appropriately mate with the source material. Resolution is definable with appreciable fine rendering that can appear scene dependent. Sharpness wavers, which results in some scenes offering lucid clarity while others are noticeably lacking well defined edges and finely resolved detail. Black and white levels are stable which gives a fair amount of pop to colors and brighter exterior sequences while keeping darker or low lit segments looking noticeably punchy with crisp, quiet blacks and slightly crushed detail in shadowy backgrounds. Grain is naturally rendered with a prominent texture that prevails throughout. This is the result of the film stock used and the outcome may be distracting to some but I didn't find it objectionable. The high resolution audio presentation does a nice job rendering the film's soundtrack. Dialogue has discernible intonation, with distinctive clarity and above average room penetration. This is more or less a front heavy presentation that makes excellent use of the left, right and center channels to deliver seamlessly integrated panning sequences. Dynamic range is extended but limited by the intentionally dated sounding elements present in the recording. Sounds and effects emanating from the front channels have copious expression that extends well into the room. Surround activity isn't frequent and when applied comes in the form of discernible spatial ambience with some discrete sounds that fill in front to rear directional pans. The LFE channel is similarly used to add impact to the lower bass frequencies associated with the film's active elements and music score. I thought that this sound mix was not only well done but seemed very appropriate for this film.
- Commentary by director/co-writer Scott Sanders, actor/co-writer Michael Jai White, and actor/co-writer Byron Minns
- 17 Deleted & alternate scenes
- (HD) Lighting the fuse - 22 minute making of featurette
- (HD) The 70's: Back in action featurette - 14 minutes
- (HD) The comic-con experience
- (HD) BD Previews:
- The Boondock Saints II: All Saints day
- Universal Soldier: Regeneration
- H2: Halloween II
- Kung fu hustle
- Soul power
- Breaking bad
- Michael Jackson's This is it
- Movie IQ functionality
- BD-Live enabled
Black Dynamite is a wonderfully entertaining parody that goofs on the blaxploitation era films of the early 1970's. As someone that grew up watching them I got a kick out of its notable attention to detail and the hilarious throwback performances by the cast. Sony has done a marvelous job presenting its stylized visual design and apropos soundtrack on Blu-ray Disc. The two production featurettes are worth checking out and stand as the highlights of an otherwise average set of bonus supplements. Black Dynamite is a fun, well intentioned/executed parody that works regardless of your experience with blaxploitation films. If you're a genre fan I highly recommend you take it for a spin on movie night.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package