The 2009 blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite doesn’t get mentioned with the great black films of the 21st century. It should have had a higher profile as the blaxploitation answer to Blazing Saddles. Unfortunately, more people recognize Michael Jai White from Tyler Perry productions, than they do from this piece of comedy gold. In Black Dynamite, White’s kung-fu physicality and ladies-man charm is a red herring for Dynamite’s subtle comedic timing.
The whole film is done as authentically “1970s” as possible, right down to the grainy footage. The dialogue is written with tongue planted firmly in cheek, while the actors wear straight faces through it all.
The “cafe brainstorming” scene’s witty back and forth between Black Dynamite and his crew, including Tommy Davidson’s Cream Corn character, will have you doubled over in laughter. Cream Corn’s pimp perm and high-pitched delivery helps make the scene pop. Cream Corn’s complaints about the cafe’s service is coupled with his disturbingly precise specifications for an artery-clogging breakfast that includes two sausage links, twin sausage patties, two hot dogs split down the middle twice, bologna fried up in a dome and a waffle. We’ve all had a similar breakfast of shame at one point or another.
But this is a hood diner in the ’70s. So of course his waitress gives him attitude as she informs a disgusted Cream Corn that she can only serve him chicken with those waffles. Meanwhile, a nosy patron/entrepreneur can’t contain his Eureka moment, hops out of his seat and scampers out – presumably to locate Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles.
This is the scene where we confirm that not only is Black Dynamite the black Bruce Lee, but he’s also Matlock with a perfectly manicured ’fro. It’s a common trope to fall back on, where the protagonist solves a confounding mystery that even the best and brightest couldn’t unlock, thanks to a fortuitous series of events from earlier. That’s essentially what Black Dynamite lampoons, by having its protagonist utilize his super powers of deduction to uncover a malt liquor conspiracy being perpetrated by “the man” upon the black community. There’s no detective work done, just a little complex word association.
Dynamite hilariously begins his conspiracy search by erasing the day’s specials from a chalkboard just to jot down M&Ms, then proceeds to uncover the truth about “Code Kansas” courtesy of unlikely astronomy knowledge from Cream Corn, his boys and an assist from a nosy elderly woman.
Davidson is the comedy vet in Black Dynamite, but Michael Jai White is proof that Terry Crews isn’t the only brolic brotha that can crack jokes.