Remember a couple months ago when I said I loved me some Blaxploitation? It's time to revisit it, but let's throw a little international flair into this action flick. It's time to kung fu kick you in the face with Jim Kelly as the Black Samurai, bitches!
There are a few stereotypes that are pretty consistent. Blaxploitation flicks are cool as shit, and black people are pretty into kung fu movies. So why not combine the two? In the 70s, kung fu flicks were hugely popular thanks to the likes of Bruce Lee. Lee's moves were rhythmic to the point that it registered with the black community - and he even featured co-stars like Jim Kelly and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There's a great love for these films. If you don't believe me, check out this entry from the blog "Stuff Black People Dig" to read a short blurb about Lee's importance. So it's only natural that kung fu would be a part of Blaxploitation movies. Even Black Dynamite had a black belt.
I'm sure there's a lot articles about the cultural reasons why this is true for black movie audiences in the 70s, but I'm kinda too lazy to really look it up. You have Google, do it yourself because I want to watch this movie so I can tell you all about it.
What's the plot of Black Samurai, you ask? Well, according to IMDb: "Robert Sand, agent of D.R.A.G.O.N., Defense Reserve Agency Guardian Of Nations, is playing tennis on his vacation with a beautiful black girl, when his commanding officers ask him to save a Chinese girl named Toki who happens to be Sand's girlfriend, and the daughter of a top Eastern Ambassador. The ransom for the abduction was the secret for a terrific new weapon - the freeze bomb - but the 'Warlock' behind the deed is also into the business of drug dealing and Voodoo ritual murders. The search takes him from Hong Kong to California through Miami, and plenty of action, against bad men, bad girl, and bad animals."
Holy shit... Voodoo, bad animals, freeze bombs, warlocks. I think this will be time well spent, my friends.
|Who wouldn't trust this face?|
After the credits, Black Samurai is sexy tennis playing with a foxy lady when he's interrupted by a couple honkies in suits. They want to talk to him about what went down in Hong Kong, but when they don't tell him about that off the top, Black Samurai doesn't want to give up any of his vacation time from D.R.A.G.O.N. to entertain any ideas about this mission. However, when these honkies show him a picture of him and Toki, they tell him this bad guy known as "The Warlock" has her.
Now, here, we could have an amazing little moment of this tiny little henchman with a funny, somewhat squeaky, voice, and it takes hardly any time for Black Samurai to use his kung fu to overpower them and then shoot them both dead. For a guy who is normally freaked out by midgets, I was really looking forward to this little dude being a Herve Villechaize like character from The Man with the Golden Gun since this whole thing is like a James Bond knockoff, but no. I rarely get my way when I watch these fucking movies.
So Black Samurai kung fus his way into a party being thrown by the Warlock. For the most part, the guys are there to watch a hooker strip and pick up non-stripping prostitutes. Black Samurai meets a hot black lady named Synne (get it?). She introduces him to the Warlock under the fake alias he gave her when they met, but the Warlock knows what's up. This forces Black Samurai to take off running and escape from some goons. He karate chops two of the goons in the nuts, and stomps one by calling him a "whitey faggot". With each of the guys he kung fus, he says a less and less interesting one liner. Well, okay, less interesting than "whitey faggot". Just when you think things can't get any crazier, a couple more midgets jump out to take him on. It's like this movie had a runaway midget budget.
|Foxy Asian lady, Toki.|
What's pretty great about this movie is the nutty elements like the stereotyped goons and the little people all over the joint. At one point, he even uses a jet pack similar to the one used in Thunderball. However, this movie has a pretty big problem. It has a lot of missing connective tissue. There's no real tension. Black Samurai knows where the bad guy is and goes there. The bad guy knows who he is and there's no cat and mouse game to it all. Every scene either begins or ends with a fight. It's exciting and good for a chuckle, but it kinda misses what makes Bond so cool. The movie misses the subtlety and subtext of Bond. But it's fun as shit to watch, though.
As each fight takes place, I notice that something Black Samurai does often is kick or punch guys in the balls. Shit, man... If that's all it takes to be a Samurai, I've already passed the trials to be one with how often I've racked myself.
One of the key plot points in this movie is that it's clear that someone is selling info to the Warlock. This is because Black Samurai was immediately found out at the hooker party earlier, and he seemingly is followed everywhere he goes. So, it's either that the Warlock has the biggest collection of goons ever to constantly follow this brotha around, or he's got some advanced knowledge where Black Samurai is at all times. All my money for who the mole is rests on the honky that is Black Samurai's guy who gets him cars and boats and whatever else he needs for the mission.
|Seriously, what's the deal with the midgets?|
When he gets to the Warlock's home, Black Samurai sees that the Warlock's people are doing some weird African tribal dance thing in what appears to be preparation for a sacrifice. This ceremony includes a likely hot white chick dressed as a gorilla dancing around. Black Samurai goes inside and squares off against Chavez (the guy who led the initial kidnapping at the beginning of the movie) in Synne's bedroom. When he knocks out Chavez, he mentions to her that he doesn't think her friends like him much. She responds with something about how she thinks of Black Samurai as her white knight. He gets mad and says, "I'm never the WHITE knight." Heh... Get it? Because he's black?
|"Oh my god... Did he just punch my bird in the dick?"|
My favorite kill in the whole movie is when a guy jumps out and attacks Black Samurai. The goon is clinging to Black Samurai's jacket. Black Samurai backs the guy to the ledge and unzips his jacket causing the guy to fall off the ledge.
After Black Samurai fights the toughest of the Warlock's fighters (which mostly is a bunch of Muhammad Ali footwork, and Black Samurai calling the guy a chump, faggot, and a sissy - which is pretty funny when you hear Jim Kelly saying this because he doesn't have a super deep voice so it just sounds like Walter Payton taunting bad guys), he finally runs down the Warlock. At this point, all we know about the Warlock is that he's a crusty old white guy. That said, how do you think this is going to go down against Black Samurai?
Spoilers: not well.
|One happy ending coming right up!|
They all smile and walk off a job well done.
What? You wanted something else added to this article as a little punctuation? I'm literally out of words for the movie. It's not a very good movie, but it's fun as shit to watch - like all Blaxploitation flicks. And they make you cooler when you watch them.