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Overall Rating
4.19

Awesome65.38%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 26.92%
Pretty Bad: 3.85%
Total Crap: 3.85%

2 reviews, 14 user ratings


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Black Belt Jones
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by Charles Tatum

"Basic Black"
3 stars

Director Robert Clouse, notable for helming one of Bruce Lee's films and tons of TV and straight to video martial arts epics, shows a lighter touch on this blaxploitation actioner.

Jim Kelly plays Black Belt Jones, a man whose martial arts prowess is as wide reaching as his afro. Los Angeles is trying to build a new civic center, and the mafia is buying all the land where it will be built so they can bilk the city government. The lone holdout is a karate school owned by Pop (Scatman Crothers). The mafia and second in command Big Tuna (Vincent Barbi) lean on loan shark hood Pinky (Malik Carter) to lean on Pop in turn. Pinky starts flashing a phony IOU around, trying to get Pop's property for payment. Pinky accidentally kills Pop, so Pop's daughter Sydney (a very lovely Gloria Hendry) inherits the place. Soon, Black Belt Jones makes like the Man With No Name, playing the mafia off of Pinky's gang, and playing with Sydney on the side. Sydney is no delicate flower, able to kick afro with the best of them. The action packed climax takes place in a car wash run amok, and that is only one weird aspect of this film.

All the blacks in the film call each other "nigger," which had me on edge throughout. Twice, Sydney uses the word "faggot," and it was not as a term of endearment. Italians do not come off much better, eating spaghetti and talking with New Yawk accents (in Southern California).

I enjoyed the film more when I watched it as a relic of the mid-1970's. Clouse and the cast do not take things too seriously, so the audience should not either. Jim Kelly is an adequate hero, Hendry is hot and holds her own, and when was the last time you saw Scatman Crothers involved in a martial arts action piece? The supporting cast is full of recognizable faces: Isaac from "The Love Boat" (spewing a line of obscenities he never repeated to Gopher), Flo from "The Jeffersons" gets stuffed in a walk-in cooler, and that dude with the big arms from the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney video "Say Say Say" kicks butt.

Jones is called "Black Belt," apparently it is not a nickname. One winery heist sequence involves trampoline skills! All the character names are funny enough without trying to keep track of them. Tongues are in cheek, from Pinky's wet meeting with head of the mafia, to a car chase involving thrown panties.

For blaxploitation, however, the film is definitely lacking in nudity and sexual content. A nude white couple running away from a fight between Sydney and Black Belt does not constitute anything remotely sexy. Too much of the dialogue and sound effects are dubbed, and not well. The lip synch is way off. The fight scenes are good, but they eventually bore, since there are so many of them.

"Black Belt Jones" is average stuff, but I have seen worse blaxploitation, and better. This falls right in the middle, but I will slightly recommend it, especially to action fans.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2741&reviewer=325
originally posted: 06/02/04 01:18:56
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User Comments

6/17/07 Pam In a nutshell, it's just a fun movie. If you take it too seriously you've missed the point 5 stars
5/04/04 tatum Average blaxploitation 3 stars
7/29/01 Smoking Monkey Charlene, Mary, Pickles - this movie kicks some serious booty! 5 stars
5/06/01 Nelson Out-fucking-standing 5 stars
5/01/01 Dumaga i like the part where jones brags he's hard to get and sydney says "what are you a faggot?" 5 stars
3/21/01 Travis jewell This movie woops some serious ass and the bogarts are the best, but what the hell does jone 5 stars
3/03/01 SGL Humanity is saved 5 stars
2/20/01 Big Joe One of the gayest movies I've ever watched, Way to corny and horrible acting! 2 stars
2/05/01 Big Joe One of the gayest movies I've ever watched, Way to corny and horrible acting! 1 stars
2/04/01 MARK What's better than thugs being piled in a garbage truck? Absolutely nothing! Cinematic gold 5 stars
2/01/01 DICK THUNDER First viewing: I watched the opening credits 6 times to see the mexican get shot in the ass 5 stars
8/20/00 D It doesn't get any better than this. Go ahead and try to find a better film. 5 stars
12/18/99 Vlad_M A better look into the 70's than "Boogie Nights" 5 stars
12/10/99 JonnyAngel Jim Kelly is the King of the Fros 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-May-1974 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Robert Clouse

Written by
  Alex Ross
  Fred Weintraub

Cast
  Jim Kelly
  Gloria Hendry
  Scatman Crothers
  Alan Weeks
  Andre Philippe



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