It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I've seen a lot of 1970s blaxploitation films, and I'm here to tell you that "Black Dynamite" gets it mostly right, and when it's wrong, it's wrong on purpose and knows just what it's doing. It's one of those loving modern retreads of older genre movies.
It's built around a pitch-perfect leading man, Michael Jai White, who has been kicking around in movies for 20 years and apparently building those muscles in the meantime. That means he effortlessly evokes real blaxploitation stars like Fred Williamson, who kicked around in thankless roles before hammering villains to death in urban action movies. White has a "Shaft" mustache and like all of the characters, is dressed in 1970s gaucherie: oversized hats, bell bottoms, shades and unbuttoned or missing shirts in patterns resembling a hippie's ideal of wallpaper.
The women are also dressed in period threads, and many have big Afros. I am happy to say it brings back an element sadly missing in recent movies, gratuitous nudity. Sexy women would "happen" to be topless in the 1970s movies for no better reason than that everyone agreed, including themselves, that their breasts were a genuine pleasure to regard -- the most beautiful naturally occurring shapes in nature, I believe. Now we see breasts only in serious films, for expressing reasons. There's been such a comeback for the strategically positioned bed sheet, you'd think we were back in the 1950s.
The plot is deliberately fashioned to seem familiar. White plays Black Dynamite, a one-man street army, who wants vengeance for the death of his kid brother (named Jimmy, as so many kid brothers are). Jimmy was killed by drug dealers, protected by The Man, of course. Black Dynamite has lethal chops, socks, fists, kicks, elbows, forearms, and it goes without saying a .44 magnum, which you will recall from Dirty Harry "is the most powerful handgun in the world." He's a formidable fighter and a charming playa, leading to gratifying interludes with such babes as Gloria (Salli Richardson) and Honey Bee (Kym Whitley).