According to http://www.eurweb.com
Despite a healthy buzz, the blaxploitation spoof “Black Dynamite” has received a thumbs down from one of the era’s top stars.
In an interview with EURweb’s Lee Bailey, Fred “The Hammer” Williams weighed in on “Black Dynamite” as well as the intentions of Screen Gems, the studio promoting the Scott Sanders-directed film, which hits theaters in selected markets this Friday (Oct. 16).
Although he declared his “love for the period,” the film’s star, Michael Jai White, opted to use humor as a vehicle for showcasing a time in which films told universal stories via black actors and filmmakers. For White, “Black Dynamite” served as a “tip of the hat to that era.”
“It’s funny to do it as a time capsule and lay in some jokes that are only funny when you’re looking at them now,” the actor told the LA Times. “You look at the ’70s, is there a more entertaining time? That time period was so alive. It was a great time for black people — they went from their heads being bowed to being up and strong.”
However, White’s approach did not earn high marks with Williamson, who is proud of the way his characters come across on the big screen. According to him, “Black Dynamite’s” attempt to honor his onscreen image fell flat.
“He says that they’re payin’ homage to me. How can you pay homage to me in a comedy. I don’t do comedy. How you gonna pay homage to me?,” said Williamson. “…My thing is to be the hero, to win the fight, to get the girl at the end of the movie and don’t die. OK. You go to see a Freddy Williamson movie. Ain’t no singin’, ain’t no dancin’ because I don’t sing. I don’t dance, in public anyway. So my kind of film, call it what you want. I have no idea what the hell ‘black exploitation’ means, but if you want to call it that, fine. But I don’t do comedy and you can’t pay homage to me by doing comedy.”
Starring White in the title role, “Black Dynamite” centers on a 1970s action legend who sets out to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of The Man. During his quest, Black Dynamite (also White’s character’s name) discovers The Man has filled black orphanages with heroin and flooded the streets with bad adulterated malt liquor. The actions by The Man are part of a vast conspiracy that stretches all the way to the White House.
While he has no problem with White’s performance, Williams expressed his displeasure over Screen Gem’s “ploy to get me involved so they can make more money” from the film.
“It has nothing to do with anything except getting people thinking that it’s the kind of film that Freddy Williamson would do and would like and so the public would come out. You know, you can’t use me dog. No way,” the veteran actor shared. “I don’t appreciate what the studio is trying to do. I respect Michael Jai White because it’s a job. He’s working. He’s making money. I respect that. I don’t respect Screen Gems trying to bill this as a resurrection of black stars coming back and doing the kind of films that they want because I guarantee you, Michael White is doing this film, but it’s not what he wants to do.”
“He’s a big good looking guy, a martial arts guy. He don’t wanna be doing funny. He wants to be out there kickin’ people’s ass and being the hero like everybody else. He don’t wanna do comedy,” Williamson continued. “I mean the guy worked all those many years to be a martial arts expert. He’s a good looking guy. He’s done mostly action films. He succumbs to a comedy because that’s all that’s left for him.”
An action star with roles in “Three the Hard Way,” “Original Gangsters,” “Black Caesar” and “Hell Up in Harlem,” Williamson is considered an icon among fans of black cinema. But while Black Dynamite may have missed the mark as far as he’s concerned, the actor applauded Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of a black method actor in the hit film “Tropic Thunder.”
“The guy who paid homage to me was a white guy in ‘Tropic Thunder.’ Did you see that film? … Robert Downey Jr. He did it in blackface with sideburns, looked just like The Hammer. When they reviewed the film in New York and all other venues they said he did a great interpretation of Fred Williamson. Now, I respect that. That means he knows who I am. He saw me. He respects the way that I talk. He respects the way that I project myself and that’s what he was doing. He was in a comedy, but he wasn’t comic. He was doing The Hammer.”
Editors note …
Michael Jai White will speak for himself in tomorrow’s EUR. Among other things, he’ll tell how “Black Dynamite” came to be and why he thinks it’s important.
Meanwhile, as far as Mr. Williamson is concerned there’s more. If you’re still reading this, then we think you’ll be interested and will want to HEAR the full interview with him. So, just click the player below.
Let’s just say the Hammer, who insists he doesn’t do comedy, actually does although it’s not intentional at first. But after our Lee Bailey broke him down, he got with the program. He’s not so tough when his guard is down. Take a listen.