Listen Live
Listen Live Graphics (Indy)

According to

Actor Michael Jai White is hoping to make a big explosion at theaters this weekend. He stars in and wrote the action comedy “Black Dynamite” opening this weekend in limited release.

“Black Dynamite” is the story of a 1970s African-American action legend of the same name who takes on The Man to fight for the community.

“There’s been tremendous reaction,” White said of the screenings of the film. “It’s even been more so in other countries. I think it’s the fact that we have an action-type of hero; a non-politically correct hero that’s a different hue is really resonating. We got a standing ovation in Prague, tremendous responses in Germany, France, and Australia and just recently in Brazil. Very much like the onset of these movies – when you had ‘Shaft’ and ‘Superfly’ – people responded. I think it was an alternative to the Charles Bronsons and Clint Eastwoods. You had a different kind of hero that you could be for an hour and a half; a different type of charisma and swagger.”

The film has the look, feel, cinematography, sound and imagery of the classic 70s movies with the strong, aggressive black star; the type of film that came to be a fixture in the blaxploitation era, an era that has been a debatable issue in the African American culture.

“It’s unfortunate that that term blaxploitation kind of blanketed over a lot of movies, which could have easily been called urban action films,” White said, who watched the final cut with urban action star Jim Brown. “‘The Mack’ is a great dramatic piece. There are a number of movies like that. Being that it was the first time that we saw ourselves as something more than butlers and porters and maids in the movies. We had Jim Brown being an action star. I felt like back then our heroes were judged on the same criteria as the white heroes.”

White commented that approximately 300 so-called “blaxploitation” movies were made in the span of four years when the film houses discovered that they made so much revenue.

“That blaxploitation era saved the studios,” he said. “Here were movies they could finance for an eighth of a normal budget that would get people in the theaters. So then they started exploiting it and they just started churning out any kind of movie. Understandably people got fed up with it because they started getting ridiculous and unfortunately those ridiculous movies started to speak for a lot of them that weren’t; that really offered social commentary.”

Reeling off names like film legends Brown, Billy Dee Williams, Fred Williamson, Calvin Lockhart, White spoke about how these actors were considered attractive, strong, and smart.

“They kicked behind and got the women,” he recalled. “We don’t have that these days. As a youngster, looking up and seeing guys like Robert Hooks, I’m like, ‘How cool is that guy?’ We had the great images of masculinity that we don’t have now. We had Sidney Poitier back then, but he’s pretty much like Denzel is now. He’s the safe guy. But where are our Fred Williamsons? Where are our Pam Griers? Where’s our characters that are unapologetically strong. There’s no in-your-face type of characters. That’s one of the reason why doing this film interested me.”

The idea for the film came to White when he was shooting “Undisputed 2.” The actor said he was listening to his iPod when the James Brown classic “Superbad” came on.

“And I just had the concept in my head,” he said. “Originally I had called it ‘Superbad,’ the movie and the character. But the title was taken. So ‘Black Dynamite’ became our name.”

White was also inspired to make the film because of his teenage sons’ growing affinity for the “blaxploitation” classics.

“Sometimes I would show them these movies and they would invite their friends to come see them as well and that hit a chord,” he said. “My teenagers, especially my son who’s at that certain age where he doesn’t want to admit that anything is cool and if you like something, they don’t want to like it, they found something electric about these movies.”

“People really made a statement,” he said about the legendary characters. “It was a rite of passage back then. You found who you were, you had to stand for something. Men were men and women were women. Now, it’s such a coddled society. The quality of the actors then – you knew these people had really gone through something. There was something that resonated as really powerful back then.

“So I crafted a story that told it all; the absurdities of movie making at the time and the brotherhood that we had,” he said. “I made sure that all the actors knew that you could hold you head up high and black was beautiful and when they called each other brothers, they really meant it.”

“Black Dynamite” opens this weekend in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. To view the trailer and find out more about the film, check out

“I chose to make my statements and not do so with any heavy handedness, but to layer the project with fun and with a bit of pride,” he said. “People who have seen it, they all say this more homage. It’s not spoof, it’s an homage parody. It really came from the heart.”

Check out the movie trailer: