FIRST, THE PRAISE: There is nothing wrong with Scott Sanders' Black Dynamite. You will enjoy the kung fu fighting; you will laugh at the many references to the main themes of the blaxploitation tradition; its crazy ending will not disappoint you; Michael Jai White, the star of the film and one of the script's authors, has complete control of his macho (or "mac ho") character.

Next, the criticism: What is right with Black Dynamite also happens to be what is wrong with it. Meaning, all you can give this movie is praise—praise for the editing of its action sequences, for its competent acting, for the director's knowledge of the blaxploitation tradition, and for its groovy score. But what one wants from a movie of this kind, a movie about a type or period of cinema, is for it to cross the border of being merely entertaining (order) to being a work of genius (disorder). This is the hidden or even silent failure of Black Dynamite—it is a comedy that never reaches the strange regions of the cosmic.

A final thought: Think of Pootie Tang. That film, which has much in common with Black Dynamite (both deconstruct popular images of black masculinity), can hardly be called a comedy. It is a work that defeats any effort to name or classify it. Pootie Tang is pure genius. Because Black Dynamite is instantly classifiable—it's a good comedy—it does not capture our amazement but only our praise.