Black Belt Jones (1974)
Robert Clouse, director of Enter the Dragon, returned with this blaxploitation actioner starring Jim Kelly as an instructor at a martial-arts school in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Teaming with former Bond girl Gloria Hendry, Kelly saves the school and Hendry's dad (Scatman Crothers) from the Mob. Eric Laneuville, Malik Carter, and Love Boat bartender Ted Lange are also onhand. Kelly was one of the subgenre's most popular heroes at the time, starring in films like Black Terminator and Black Eliminator by the score. … More
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Critic Reviews for Black Belt Jones
Audience Reviews for Black Belt Jones
Your decision to see this film will probably be determined once you consider the following: it is a 1974 film that is both a blaxploitation film and a martial arts picture. As a regualr movie, it's not great, I'll admit, but as a genre piece (or genre pieces), it's better. I have more knowledge of blaxploitation films than martial arts ones; for the former, it's damn good. How it truly ranks among its contemporaries in the latter is hard to say. For me, I think it's great as a martial arts film, but that's just me. It does help that this was directed by Robert Clouse (who directed Enter the Dragon) and that it stars Jim Kelly, who was also in Enter the Dragon.
Because of those bits of info, you can believe me when I say that the music is fun, and that the fight choreography is well done. The story is the typical convoluted mess of fighting mob factions with a smooth and badass alpha male caught in the middle. The acting's not great, but Kelly has presence, and it's fun to see Scatman Crothers as an older martial arts man. Gloria Hendry is easy on the eyes and is also fun to watch.
There's a lot of humor and some really entertaining scenes (action or otherwise). There's also some substance, but not a whole lot. What little bit of it there is though helps elevate into something more than just popcorn entertainment. Some highlights include the music, fun fashions, the image of tons of black dudes with afros doing martial arts, and the climax which takes place in a car wash.
This is one of the coolest, grooviest, and most entertaining 70s films out there. For the love of God do yourself a favor and check this one out- it's a wild and fun ride.
What can I say? ? This is simply awesome stuff! From the super cool Jim Kelly in the main role, the numerous chop-socky fights, car chases and general mayhem to the absolutely side splitting humour throughout this is an absolute gem and a true pleasure to sit through from start to glorious finish.
Director Robert Clouse who also directed Kelly in the classic Bruce Lee opus Enter The Dragon takes a far more light hearted approach here and delivers a film that blatantly doesn't take itself at all seriously (which proves to be a most sagacious decision). Just check out the utterly hilarious scene for instance in which Kelly single handedly beats up a whole room of thugs by having his pal (played by the ever likable Alan Weeks) turn the lights on and off ? the dialogue from the villains is guaranteed to leave you on the floor with laughter for sure!
Other scenes of particular note (every single scene is great in fact!) include a number of funny brawls in Papa Byrd's (played by the welcome face of Scatman Crowthers who actually joins in the fight!) karate dojo, an amazing punch up in a train carriage during which Kelly manages to smash every opponent through separate windows in turn(!) and last but not least the classic soapy finale!
A great assemble cast of highly recognisable faces including the aforementioned actors in addition to the likes of the lovely Gloria Hendry (Rosie Carver from the James Bond classic Live and Let Die), (Earl Jolly Brown - Whisper from the same film!), Malik Carter as Pinky (a character of comic genius!) Mel Novak (who also appeared in Bruce Lee's final unfinished Game Of Death as Stick) and keeping in with the Bruce Lee connection a brief appearance by Tang Soo Do champion Bob Wall (O'Hara from Enter The Dragon and Carl Miller from Game Of Death) who also choreographs the fight scenes in this film.
What more can I add? Fans of seventies fashions (including a majestic display of solid looking Afros!), groovy seventies beats, kung fu and indeed comedy would be well advised to boogie on down to your local video outlet and grab up a copy of this veritable classic!
Some truly horrible things, such as bad acting, cornball retro-kung-fu action, gratuitous exploitation, trampoline-jumping beach babes, and lame stereotypes. Strangely, when they are all put together, a creepily entertaining film emerges.
Nonetheless, I admit that this is a standard Blaxploitation genre, with a marvelously cheesy end-fight scene... with lots of bad kung-fu to boot. At least it doesn't take itself too seriously (see Disco Godfather.)
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