Monday 9 August 2010

Please fasten your Black Belts!

Black Belt Jones 1974 US
Directed by Robert Clouse
Warner Brothers DVD Region 1

Whoop! Whoop! Ptshh! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!
Kablang! Whoop! Whoop! Ohooooohoooho! Ptush!

And there you have my full review for Black Belt Jones if I were doing it as an onomatopoeic translation of how title star Jim Kelly might have reviewed the movie... or, you know, it could be my lame intro to try to hook you into reading the rest of this post. Who can tell for sure?

So, yeah, a blaxploitation classic I’ve been wanting to see for a while... Black Belt Jones doesn’t really quite make it for me compared to some of the other genre classics like the FIRST Cleopatra Jones movie, Coffy, Foxy Brown, Shaft etc. Which is a shame because I really like what I saw of Jim Kelly when he was facing off bad guys shoulder to shoulder with Bruce Lee and the legendary John Saxon in Enter the Dragon (anyone watching that movie for Bruce Lee has obviously been blinded to the Saxony-goodness embedded into every frame of celluloid ;-)

But I digress. Black Belt Jones is quite a simple and silly film - nothing wrong with that, I laughed quite a bit as I was watching. Just like in Enter the Dragon, Jim Kelly lets out those bizarre and highly comical “whoops” as he martial arts the bad guys to their early demise. I don’t know exactly why he does this... but it’s very entertaining. And the beautiful Gloria Hendry is on hand as “Sydney” when her father gets killed (played by Scatman Carruthers who is supposed to be a kung-fu legend in this but... well, you are missing out if you haven’t seen Scatman Carruther’s attempting kung-fu). She has bizarre kung-fu skills too. See her go to work on her enemies as a female powerhouse of martial arts mayhem. When she gets mean... she clocks the bad guys clean! ... uh, oh... I might just write most of the rest of the review with phrases like this!

This is what this ridiculous, terrible and strangely watchable movie has to offer any readers who wish to take the plunge in this celluloid frenzy of fist flared funk!

1. A fight scene in a train carriage where every bad guy gets thrown out of a different, shattering window. Im sorry? How many windows has an average train carriage got to smash? Especially when the fight goes on in only one end of the carriage. Eight windows? Ten?

2. A soundtrack that manages to be outrageously funny AND funky at the same time.

3. A main character who’s name really does seem to be “Black Belt”. At times he’s called on as “Belt” (as in, "Hey, Belt. Check this out!") or “BB” or... WHAT? Lucky this character wasn’t christened Bible Belt Jones or I’d be watching a movie about religious tomfoolery in the US!

4. Jim Kelly. He’s a lean, black, fighting machine. Watch him beat up people, often without even actually connecting with them due to bad camera angles. Honestly. Enter the Dragon was just so much better than this one. But I don't care because Jim Kelly is pretty watchable!

5. A really terrible, overlong, anti-climactic fight scene in a car wash as Black Belt Jones and Sydney take on all the bad guys in a big puddle of constant soap bubbles. Frankly, this would have made a lot more sense if there was at least one villain to fight who wasn’t an overweight blob who doesn’t look like he could take on Alfalfa out of The Little Rascals let alone slaughter-machine Jim Kelly.

6. The tagline on the cover... Enter JIM “Dragon” KELLY. HE CLOBBERS THE MOB AS BLACK BELT JONES. Yep... definitely a mob-clobbering movie. If Jim Kelly was blue-eyed Benjamin Grimm The Thing he’d shout out... “It’s Mob-Clobbering Time!” before blinding them with his orange afro!

7. A stupidly, drawn out, padding the movie, lets see Jim and Gloria court each other’s ass by chasing, frolicking and pounding the @*&% out of each other so they can get themselves in the mood to have heavily censored sex!

Ok. That’s probably all the good reasons I can think of for you to either watch or steer clear of this movie... depending on your personal taste. As for me... I’m now up for getting hold of a copy of 1978’s Black Belt Jones 2: The Tattoo Connection. Can anyone who’s read this far recommend that one to me?

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