I went into this movie absolutely cold. That’s right: I somehow had never seen Dolemite. Not quite as shocking as admitting I had never seen Re-Animator or any of the films listed here, but for a guy who reviews the kind of movies I review? Yeah.
My only exposure to Rudy Ray Moore up til now was when I saw The Avenging Disco Godfather back in college. With a title like that, you’d figure I’d be chomping at the bit to write up a review of that movie, but that’d mean having to sit through the film a second time.
Still, I could’ve watched Dolemite. Probably should’ve. But Dolemite wasn’t available for Instant Watch and its sequel, The Human Tornado, was. So away we go.
I… I still can’t quite get my head around the character of Dolemite.
I mean, what is he? From what I can gather in The Human Tornado, Dolemite is some kind of playboy millionaire / stand-up comic/ philanthropist / gigolo / kung-fu superhero. It’s all a bit much and feels completely arbitrary, but I suppose that’s the point.
Maybe I just didn’t get it? I want to get it. I like getting it. I’m a big fan of getting it.
Unfortunately, there were plenty of times where I was left dumbfounded. Take the opening sequence, where we see Dolemite performing his stand-up routine in a packed club to an adoring crowd. Not sure why the crowd is so adoring, as Dolemite’s set seems to consist solely of making fun of each and every individual audience member. Seriously: he just goes right down the row, ripping into one person after the next. But everyone else is laughing, and here’s a close-up of that dancer shaking her ass, so Good Times!
Some time later, at Stately Dolemite Manor, Dolemite is hosting a party for about 40 of his closest friends. This sends the slack-jawed white local fuzz in a tizzy — there be black people havin’ fun! — and the sheriff leads a posse in to break up all the unlawful mid-day POB (Partying While Black). In the process, the posse barges in on Dolemite getting’ it on with the sheriff’s wife. Awkward!
That does lead to a hasty get-away by Dolemite, and the first time I’ve ever seen an instant replay in a movie. Watch this good shit:
Dolemite and his buddies end up carjacking their way to Los Angeles, where they plan on meeting up with “Queen Bee,” who has just opened her own club. And there it is! The story is put on hold for a few musical numbers, something that happens regularly in this film. It’s almost as if the filmmakers realized they only had an hour’s worth of movie and held a talent show to pad the running time.
Turns out that Queen Bee’s club is doing a little too well, and it’s hurting business for the local gangster’s club. Looks like Dolemite is rolling into town just in time…
So the gangster, Cavaletti, kidnaps two of Queen Bee’s waitresses and forces Queen Bee to shut down and work for him. Horrified, Dolemite leaps into actio– no, not really. He tracks down an old flame, Hurricane Annie, for some fun between the sheets. Meanwhile, that hick sheriff has followed Dolemite to L.A., pinning a murder rap on Dolemite to the LAPD.
Dolemite eventually gets around to doing something. His big plan? Seduce Cavaletti’s girlfriend and orgasm-ing the information out of her. I know that sounds like a joke, but that is indeed Dolemite’s plan, and that’s exactly how it plays out. Know how the film is titled The Human Tornado? Let’s just say it’s not for his kung-fu action…
Speaking of which, Dolemite doesn’t really break out his kung-fu skills until the last 30 minutes of the film… and even then, the filmmakers have to speed up the camera. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.
Obviously, it’s an intentionally silly move, and you know I dig that kind of thing. But it does put The Human Tornado all over the map, tone-wise: one minute the abducted waitresses are being tortured, and then there’s silly fighting? It was all a bit jarring for me. I liked The Human Tornado, but I didn’t love it. Maybe I really just didn’t get it.