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Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

Black Belt Jones (1974)

by  |  May 12th, 2011  |  Action/Adventure, Exploitation

The 1970s and 1980s saw the creation of various sub-genres that seemed to connect with all of the other genres.  These various sub genres tended to exploit some facet of the movie itself, for example, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Could be aptly described as a Sexploitation film due to the fact that the antagonists of the film are three wild strippers that are looking for trouble.

With that said, there are other types of Exploitation sub-genres in films, a few of these being, Carsploitation films (Or movies that tended to show lots of scenes of car racing and stuff of that nature) another example would be Shocksploitation films (Or films that have heavy shock value)

The one though that I thought that I would mention here though is Blaxploitation films…

Now I have had the honor of having enjoyed several of these exploitation sub-genres, such as Biker Films (An example being Chrome and Hot Leather) Slasher Films (Halloween being in my opinion the best example of a true Slasher Film).  But one of the exploitation sub-genre's that I have unfortunately not had much of an opportunity to enjoy is these Blaxploitation Films!

Its not that I didn't like them, or that even have tried to avoid them, I just simply didn't know that they existed! This was until a couple of years ago when I was talking with fellow ABMer Matthew Dowling about some of these older types of movies and with the both of us being fans of horror movies, one of the movies that we discussed is the movie Blacula (1972).

Now for the sake of this recommendation, I am not going to be talking about Blacula (Needless to say, it is a great movie, and that recommendation is coming.)

Irregardless, I did borrow Blacula from Matt, and I found that I really enjoyed it quite a bit, and it set me on a new path in my interests as a movie buff, being that I just recently discovered this new sub-genre called 'Blaxploitation.'

With that said though, it wasn't until recently when I was able to begin to really explore the Blaxploitation sub-genre beyond its Horror films, with a brilliant, and fun movie called Black Belt Jones

Jim Kelly as Black Belt Jones

Written by: Oscar Williams (Shades Of Gray), Directed by: Robert Clouse (Ironheart) and starring Jim Kelly (Stranglehold),Gloria Hendry (Absolute Evil – Final Exit), Eric Laneuville (The Omega Man), Alan Weeks (Dallas), Malik Carter (Cobra) and Scatman Crothers (Rock Odyssey)

Black Belt Jones (Kelly) is a bad ass mutha, who can kick your ass from one end to the other. He is suave, debonair, playa with the ladies, and an outside contractor for the government…

The other thing that Ole Black Belt is, is a philanthropist who remembers where he came from and helps those still in the old neighborhood! At one point he has even helped to get a grant to continue a dojo that was set up to help train young African American kids Karate…

Now this Dojo, which is owned by Pappa Byrd, is prime real estate, you see right where this Dojo is, is where the city government is planning on building a civic center at.  One of the contributors to this projects, a man who has a personal interest in seeing that this project gets off the ground is Don Steffano (Played by: Andre Philippe).

Don Steffano is a mafia Don that seems to see potential in this project, and thus enlists an African American Pool Hall owner (and local strong man) by the name of Pinky, to 'discuss' the matter with Pop Byrd (Crothers) and to persuade Byrd in to selling the Dojo, so that construction can go through…

Pinky (Malik Carter)

Well needless to say, the conversation didn't go all that well, because Pinky and his gang end up quite literally getting their asses KICKED by Byrd, Toppy and the Dojo's student class!

Well of course this is not gonna deter Pinky, who calls up some A1 Bogarts from Frisco (Bogarts being specialists in this type of thing.)

During this time, Toppy and

Pop end up having a fight about the confrontation with Pinky and his gang. After this is done, Toppy decides that it is time to give Black Belt a call and see if he can't straighten everything out… During this time Pop heads in to his office and out the back door and out to a card game (although, at this pont Toppy believes that Pop is in his office.)

After Black Belt arrives at the Dojo, that is when Pinky decides to try again, and hits both the Dojo and the card game that Pop is playing at, we'll get in to the card game in a moment…

The first place that Pinky decides to hit is the Dojo.  When Pinky and his crew show up to the Dojo, the door is unlocked, but the office light is left on, so everyone in his crew head in to the Dojo, where Black Belt and Toppy are waiting for them…

You see, Toppy and Black Belt have created a genius plan, in that for the most part the lights would be off while Black Belt kicks all of their asses, except that the lights would come on every 3 seconds and then shut off so that Black Belt can see what he is doing, (and man does that scenario work out AWESOMELY!) What I mean by this, is that each and everyone, from Pinky to the rest of his crew, get the crap beatin out of them magnificently! (It was truly a spectacle to see.)

Anyway, after this failure, Pinky and his crew decide to head over to the back room card game that Pop is at…

When Pinky and his crew show up at the place that is holding the back room card game, the first thing that Pinky orders is to put everyone in the main hall, in to the freezer.  After this is done Pinky and his crew head in to the back room where the card game is being held.  When they arrive at the game, Pinky decides to try again to convince Pop to give him the Dojo…

Pop Byrd (Crothers) as he is being held at gun point by Pinky.

This of course fails, and after a brief confrontation with one of Pinky's goons, where in Pop receives a couple of hits to the face, he dies (It is not explained what exactly killed Pop, rather it was the hits he took, or something else, but I suspect it was something else, being that he was a Karate master and all…)

In comes Sydney Frazier (Hendry).  You see, Sydney is Pops estranged daughter, who lives in New York, and who also came out to the West Coast to bury her father, make sure the Dojo continues running with out him and to settle his affairs…

Unfortunately though, before she has a chance to do so, a student that she likes, who had driven her to a confrontation that she had with Pinky, and then on to her hotel has been kidnapped,  the  student being Quincy (Laneuville).

Black Belt and the rest of the Dojo perfoming a Karate ritual at Pop's death.

Now it is up to Black Belt, Toppy, Sydney, and a small but loyal group of friends, to rescue Quincy, and finally stop Pinky, his crew and the mob, so that the Dojo will be around for future generations of kids from the neighborhood to participate in!

Like I mentioned above, this is my first foray in to watching a Blaxploitation Action Film, and I gotta say that I was thoroughly impressed with it!  With that said, this is what I really like about this movie, and what I think makes this a truly excellent B Movie:

1. I thought that the Martial Arts were simply awesome!

2. I also liked the fact that Scatman Crothers was in this film, I mean I know that his participation in this film is fairly limited, but he is just truly a power house actor that is great in everything I have seen him in! (I don't know if you can tell, but I am a huge fan!)

3.  The next thing that I wanted to mention about this movie is Jim Kelly… Now I had only seen parts of Enter The Dragon (1973), and even that was many years ago, and thus had forgotten that I had seen Mr. Kelly in other things, so it was a real treat to kind of re-discover his brilliance, both as an actor and as a martial artist!

4. I also wanted to say that I really like the story for this film quite a lot.  I mean the idea of saving  the neighborhood (well in this case, Dojo) and the person that comes back to his roots to rescue the neighborhood activities center (no matter what it is) is simply awesome, and lends itself to being a very powerful message of community, and the importance of where you come from.

Well folks, if your looking for a completely ass kicking, edge of your seat great time, then  I highly recommend checking out Black Belt Jones, it is a kick ass film!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU-5fOSXW3A

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Nathan Strack

About

I am a huge Horror/B-Movie/Grindhouse movie fan! Rather it be Writing/Acting/Directing or just watching one I love it all!

Streets Of Fire (1984)
The Transporter (2002)
Commando (1985)

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