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May 30, 2016

Movie Review: Dolemite (Vinegar Syndrome, 1975)

It's strange to think of a pimp as a hero, but in 1975, Rudy Ray Moore did that with a character he created in his stand-up act. He made Dolemite a man of the people. Not only was he popular with those in his neighborhood, but the head of the prison where he was locked up trusted him enough to set him free so that he could take down a vicious rival. It's funny, but if Dolemite was made today, it could be done as a serious action film. Instead, we get legendary Blaxploitation gold.

Dolemite was one of the classics on my must-see list. It's up there in cult status with films like Shaft or Cannibal Holocaust. It has a loose story line, and it serves as more of a showcase for Moore's style of comedy. The basic premise is that one of Dolemite's ladies, Queen Bee, convinces the warden that he was framed in order to get him out of jail. The warden lets him loose knowing that only Dolemite can prove his own innocence. A rival named Willie Green (played by D'Urville Martin, who also directs), with the help of some crooked cops, had planted drugs and stolen furs in Dolemite's car. This got Dolemite out of the way with a twenty year prison sentence. As soon as Willie finds out he's back in action, he's chased by the same cast of criminals that put him away. It's a good thing his ladies have all been trained in kung fu.

Dolemite is a really fun movie. The seventies look and feel put you back in time, not to mention the cornball dialogue and action. I swear, Moore's kicks and punches are so bad that they rival any recent Steven Seagal movie. I was told that there is a famous shot with a dangling boom mic (which I assume resulted in the Black Dynamite scene), but I was too engrossed in the fun and silliness involved. I don't remember seeing any of Moore's stand-up, but there are two scenes that feature goofy dirty poems, and I can only assume that these were part of his act.

Vinegar Syndrome has been a champion of these old films, and my understanding is that they plan to rerelease a series of Moore's library. I hope this is true. This release features trailers and other bonus goodies. It's too bad Moore isn't still around. A commentary from him could have been amazing. I highly recommend Dolemite, and it shouldn't be watched alone. This is a party movie. Dolemite is an amazing anti-hero, and I wouldn't be shocked to see this character revisited in the Hollywood remake machine.

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