Thursday, February 28, 2013


Written & Directed By: Keenan Ivory Wayans
Cinematography By: Tom Richmond
Editor: Michael R. Miller

Cast: Keenan Ivory Wayans, Dawnn Lewis, Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, Steve James, Jim Brown, Issac Hayes, Ja’net Dubois, Damon Wayans, Kadeem Hardison, Anne-Marie Johnson, Gary Owens, Eve Plumb, John Witherspoon, David Alan Grier, Hawthorne James, Ariana Richards, Clu Gulager, John Vernon, Clarence Williams III, Kim Wayans, Robin Harris, Tony Cox, Chris Rock

Jack Spade returns from the army in his old ghetto neighbourhood when his brother, June Bug, dies. Jack declares war on Mr. Big, powerful local crime lord. His army is led by John Slade, his childhood idol who used to fight bad guys in the 70s.

Not the best looking film. No real style to it, but it makes the grade largely based on humor.

It’s a parody/Spoof movie based on blaxplotiation films. It’s also funny in it’s own right. Even if you are aren’t a fan of or never seen blaxploitation films. It’s a bonus if you have, but the material is just so good it excels past it’s limitations something it seems in later Wayans movies they forgot or got burned out with IN LIVING COLOR and seem preoccupied with trying to make the audience laugh with pop culture jokes and toilet humor. Instead of what they found and is actually funny.

What makes this film shine is the humor in later films Keenan Ivory Wayans jokes and humor tend to go for crass and gross humor. Here he still has a bit of that humor but it seems more well thought out and witty. Giving equal measure to high and low bar humor.

This film doesn’t age the best but I don’t think it’s designed to as it pays homage to the 70’s and takes place in the late 80’s. Though some trends are outdated. The film is still funny today and has many classic scenes and lines.

The film is also funny while not being insulting.

When Slammer (Jim Brown) asks Jack Spade (Keenen Ivory Wayans), "What makes you think you can be a black hero?", Spade responds by saying, "I'm an ex-football player" then Slammer backs off. Brown played football for the Cleveland Browns from 1957-1965 and is in the NFL Hall of Fame. --In my opinion it deserves to be up there as a comedy classic with AIRPLANE.

A movie that works perfectly with this film as a double feature is BLACK DYNAMITE.

As far as a homage. The film brings back a lot of the stars of the films he is spoofing for roles in this movie and they seem to be having fun sending up their past roles and images. It also helps build a familiarity for the audience to see these actors and be instantly warm to the characters from recognition. Experiencing them in new different roles that are familiar and fun. The only people missing from the film are a few icons from the films being immortalized Fred Williamson (BLACK CEASER) , Pam Grier (FOXY BROWN), Ron O’Neal (SUPERFLY), and Richard Roundtree (SHAFT) who all eventually reunited with the film ORIGINAL GANSTAS over a decade later. Though it would have been more rewarding if it was with this film. The film also works as it makes fun of the problems and clich├ęs of those films while making them seem entirely new and ripe for comedy. Like intentional mistakes. Fred Williamson was offered a part in the film, but was against parodying the screen persona he created during his career of the cool hero.

It’s nice to see so much comedic talent in their early years, before becoming stars in bit and supporting roles.

This was the beginning of Keenan Ivory Wayans breaking off from his partnership with Comedian/Actor/Director Robert Townsend Who he used to write with/For beginning with HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE and Robert Townsend’s Yearly HBO comedy Special. Which usually included lots of skits. Which when you go back and look at you can see Keenan’s fingerprints all over. I’m not saying he was the lone talent. Robert Townsend is talented also. Together they were dynamite. Alone Keenan is still around. Townsend it seems has either retired or is struggling.

Producer Peter McCarthy persuaded John Cusack, with whom he had worked before, to appear in the last big shoot-out scene as a delivery boy. He was shot multiple times and was burned by several of the nearly 20 squibs attached to his body. They didn't use the scene.

I like to remember this film always as the great potential and power a Wayans brothers film comedy can have. The problem is they start with a good idea, But a bad follow through.

A definite addition to your film library. Go out and get it now.


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