Dolemite (1975) – By Philip Smolen

 

My fascination for the late Rudy Ray Moore’s “Dolemite” (1975) goes all the way back to 1982. My friend and I had rented a videotape by Charles Band called “The Best of Sex and Violence” (1982) which was merely a collection of red band trailers for exploitation films of all kinds. About a third of the way through the tape, the promo for “Dolemite” began and after watching for a few seconds, I dropped to the floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter. I had never heard of comedian Rudy Ray Moore before, but his earthy and profane tirades grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I memorized Moore’s voiceover for the film’s trailer and for the next few years it wasn’t uncommon for me to break into my version of “Dolemite” whenever my friends and I got together.

So I’m delighted that Vinegar Syndrome has restored Moore’s classic blaxploitation flick to 2K glory and finally unleashed it for videophiles everywhere. This is simply a wonderful cinematic experience that almost defies description. Coming at the midpoint of the blaxploitation cinematic cycle, Moore wanted this cinematic endeavor to be special, but he knew that his $100,000 budget couldn’t support any expensive special effects or stunt work that a lot of blaxploitation flicks depended on. So Moore decided to base the film on what he knew best; his outrageous personality and comedy routines.

In the film, Moore plays the superpimp Dolemite who gets sent to jail on a trumped-up drug charge orchestrated by his arch enemy Willie Green (D’urville Martin who also directed). When drugs supplied to Green by the evil mayor Daly (Hy Pyke) start killing children, the prison warden gives Dolemite a reprieve on the condition that he gets to the bottom of the drug crisis. Dolemite does just that and he and his all girl Kung fu army take on Green, the mayor, dirty cops and anyone else who gets in their way.

Moore knew exactly what audiences wanted in their action flicks and he delivered. From non-stop Kung fu fights (where the actors are clearly not making contact with their opponent) to copious amounts of female nudity and insane bits of comedy, “Dolemite” is howlingly funny and surprisingly satisfying. Perhaps the best parts of the movie are when Moore is the center of the camera’s attention and he delivers some of his best known routines including “The Monkey” and “Titanic.” Moore’s gift for down-to-earth humor was very special and distinctive; especially considering that working “blue” was still looked down on during the 1970s.

There are some wonderful extras on this Blu-ray/DVD combo including a new making of short as well as commentary by Moore’s biographer Mark Jason Murray. There’s also a trailer for the sequel to “Dolemite”; 1976’s “The Human Tornado.” If you are a fan of blaxploitation cinema or if you just love classic comedians, then “Dolemite” is the whup-ass DVD you need to get a hold of. It’s an incredible mid 1970s time capsule.

For more information on this restored version of ‘Dolemite”, please visit: www.vinegarsyndrome.com