Friday, March 11, 2016

#2,034. Dolemite (1975)

Directed By: D'Urville Martin

Starring: Rudy Ray Moore, D'Urville Martin, Jerry Jones

Tag line: "Bone-crushing, Skull-splitting, Brain-blasting ACTION!"

Trivia: This film is a noted influence on the works of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, rapper Snoop Dogg and comedian Eddie Murphy

The acting is bad, the fight scenes are worse, and the boom mic appears in so many shots it should have been listed as a member of the cast. But thanks to Rudy Ray Moore, some snappy dialogue, and a team of kung-fu fightin’ hookers, 1975’s Dolemite is outta sight!

After spending two years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, martial arts expert and super-pimp extraordinaire Dolemite (Moore) is approached by the warden and offered a deal: in exchange for his freedom, Dolemite will help authorities put Willie Green (D'Urville Martin), a drug pusher and gangster, behind bars. Seeing as Green was the man who framed him in the first place, Dolemite happily agrees, and is back on the street the very next day. With the help of his favorite madam Queen Bee (Lady Reed) and his illustrious band of ass-kicking whores, Dolemite reacquires his beloved nightclub (which Willie Green had taken over), then starts gathering information on Green and his cohorts, the most powerful of whom is the Mayor (Hy Pike) of their fair city!

A low-budget blaxploitation film, Dolemite certainly has its issues, chief among them being its less-than-stellar action scenes. After he’s roughed up by a pair of corrupt cops, Dolemite fights back, though it’s obvious his roundhouse kick never hits its mark; and a later confrontation with some of Green’s henchmen is edited together so haphazardly that we never see a single punch thrown! Not even the gunplay is convincing (getting the drop on a pair of assassins, Dolemite shoots one of them dead, despite the fact he was aiming the gun in the wrong direction!). And you can make a drinking game out of how many times you spot the boom mic, though odds are you’ll be drunk before the movie is half over (not to be outdone by his equipment, the sound man himself turns up in a scene).

But then, nobody is going to watch Dolemite for a lesson in film aesthetics. They’re there to see Rudy Ray Moore, and the actor / producer does not disappoint. A comedian whose profanity-laced albums were considered too racy for mainstream audiences, Moore nonetheless had a faithful following among African-Americans, and the tough-talking character Dolemite was his most popular creation. A bad-ass in every respect (mere minutes after being released from prison, he’s gunning down foes with an automatic rifle), Dolemite delivers one great line after another (when the two cops first approach him, Dolemite says “Move over and let me pass before they have be to pullin' these Hush Puppies out your mother*ckin' ass!”), and over the course of the film, Moore even gets to perform a few of his comedy routines (his tale of the black man who survived the Titanic is a classic).

Charismatic and hilarious, Rudy Ray Moore carries Dolemite on his back, and it’s because of him that you’ll want to watch this movie over and over again.

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