Thursday, May 5, 2011

Black Belt Jones (1974)

Director: Robert Clouse

Starring: Jim Kelly, Gloria Hendry, Scatman Crothers, Eric Laneuville, Alan Weeks, Earl Jolly Brown, Ted Lange

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He clobbers the mob

Plot: While pressuring Pop Byrd (Scatman Crothers) into selling his downtown karate studio, a group of Mafia goons accidentally kills him, sending his martial arts expert daughter (Gloria Hendry) and grieving students straight to Black Belt Jones (Jim Kelly) for help in seeking revenge.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

#70 on Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

You'd pretty much have to be able to fight if you're going to dress like that.

I was sold on the title alone but it turns out to be a pretty fun flick. It's loaded with familiar faces (Hendry and Brown were both in LIVE AND LET DIE the year before, Scatman Crothers is recognizable, of course, and THE LOVE BOAT'S Ted Lange shows up for a couple of minutes) and it's directed by the guy who made ENTER THE DRAGON (1973) which also starred Jim Kelly. Kelly has a likable presence and my kung fu skills are no match for his (but my acting skills probably are). He stands 6'2" (6'9" including the afro) and he's an ass-kickin' machine!

Like so many of these flicks, they're filled with stereotypes that make you cringe. The humor is mostly broad, the action is good and it's the rare genre flick the entire family can enjoy. I prefer the ones that don't but that's OK. One hilarious bit that BLACK DYNAMITE (2009) borrowed was everyone called Jim Kelly, "Black Belt", like it was his name. "Black Belt, I love you." Shit like that. Classic. The big showdown at the end at a car wash with suds all over the place goes on a bit too long but, as a whole, it's goofy fun that's over before you know it.

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