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  Dolemite None Taken
Year: 1975
Director: D'Urville Martin
Stars: Rudy Ray Moore, D'Urville Martin, Jerry Jones, Lady Reed, West Gale, John Kerry, Hy Pyke, Brenda DeLong, Terri Mosley, Marilyn Shaw, Lynell Smith, Vera Howard, Joy Martin, Jana Bisbing, Brenda Banks, Pat Haywood, René Van Clief, Pat Jones, Lola Mayo
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Nightclub owner Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) has been in prison for well nigh two years thanks to a false charge in drug trafficking, but what actually happened was that he was accosted by two cops one day who demanded he open the trunk of his car, where they uncovered the goods that had been planted there. However, since he's been inside the crime rate has grown worse and now the warden, representing the authorities, is asking for Dolemite's help. The deal is that they will release him if he agrees to bring the actual bad guys to justice: the man they have in mind is his rival, Willie Green (D'Urville Martin), but there are corrupt lawmen he means to bring down too...

A sensation among certain African-American communities when it first exploded onto the screens of the inner cities back in 1975, Dolemite was the first film to star comedian Rudy Ray Moore, although the indications were that here he intended you to take him very seriously indeed. Moore had made his name with a collection of comedy albums featuring his "toasts", which were the predecessors of modern rapping, essentially stories featuring rhymes, slang and strong language that appealed to the same people who would go to see his films.

Although popular, if this film was anything to go by Moore didn't exactly become a millionaire with his records because this is one of the cheapest-looking of the blaxploitation genre, with what appears to be scenes shot in parking lots and motel rooms for much of the time. Not that the lack of cash dampened the filmmakers' ambitions, as there was plenty here that would never have crossed the minds of producers working with bigger bucks, such as the lead character's gang of prostitutes who, while he has been away, have been trained up by a madam to be fearsome kung fu killers.

We have to take their martial arts skills on trust, as what we see of them consists of a few half-hearted kicks and karate chops, this despite the Chuck Norris school of fighting being mentioned in the credits, but then the set decorator is said to be Moore there, and it's hard to see what he could have added to the interiors to make them any more tacky. Dolemite knows his way around kung fu as well, as we see in a handful of hilarious fight sequences where he (or his stunt double) kicks the asses of his rival pimps, hitmen or crooked coppers in an unmistakably amateurish fashion.

If anything, this low rent nature of the production makes you cheer Moore on all the more, as it's like seeing a man living out his dream on celluloid. If only the vision in his head had matched the reality of what he and director Martin and co-writer Jerry Jones conjured up on screen and Dolemite would have been a feast for the eyes. What it is, on the other hand, is a feast for the ears with some of the best insults of its era; as expected, Moore implements the word "muthafucka" with rapier-like precision, but he accompanies it with such epithets as "No business-born" and "Rat soup-eatin'" for vivid linguistic colour. Yes, it's poorly made, frequently yawn-inducing, laughably acted and muddled plotwise with characters coming and going without any reason, but for all that you're still on its side in spite of its shortcomings. Did we have to see the mayor naked, though? Music by Arthur Wright.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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