Outlaw Johnny Black
review by Bobby Blakey
In 2009 Michael Jai White brought his Blaxploitation parody Black Dynamite to glorious life that also spawned an animated series. Now the team is back together and he is stepping behind the camera as well as writer, director and star for his latest flick Outlaw Johnny Black. The film co-stars Anika Noni Rose, Erica Ash, Byron Minns, Kym Whitley, and Tony Baker. Could this film offer more of the fun and action of Black Dynamite or will it fail to be quick on the draw?
Outlaw Johnny Black follows Johnny Black, hell bent on avenging the death of his father, who vows to gun down Brett Clayton and becomes a wanted man in the process. He goes into hiding, posing as a preacher in a small mining town that's been taken over by a notorious Land Baron.
You already know what kind of film you are getting when you head in, but I was surprised that it wasn’t as much of a spoof style tone as Black Dynamite. This isn’t a bad thing and still offers up plenty of laughs, but it brings a more old school western vibe to the forefront and in turn a fun flick. White goes all in blending the western genre with his martial arts action to deliver something different and all around entertaining.
The story is simple and takes us on a western journey filled with all the usual tropes of the genre including nods to other flicks like Blazing Saddle and Billy Jack. I love as good western and bringing all these fun nods, old school vibe and the addition of the martial arts just made it all the more entertaining. Is it silly and kind of cheesy? Absolutely, but that is part of the charm of what White and his team have created.
Everyone here looks to be having a great time and it shines through in the overall execution to a film that could have easily not worked at all. It’s not
breaking down the walls of the genre or anything, but their energy to the project brings it all together to work more often than it doesn’t. If there are any issues it does come in pacing at times, but it’s minor and I got exactly what I hoped from it all.
If you are a fan of the world of Black Dynamite then this is the movie for you. It took a while to get this film done and released for various reason, but I hope this is just another step in seeing what else White has up his sleeve. Until then check out Outlaw Johnny Black when it hits theaters on September 15th from Samuel Goldwyn Films.