The Spirit of 'Black Dynamite' Lives On in 'The Outlaw Johnny Black'

Michael Jai White is looking for your help in funding his next blaxploitation comedy.

Outlaw Johnny Black

Michael Jai White is looking for your help in funding his next blaxploitation comedy.

“From the brothers who brought you Black Dynamite comes a brand new movie that’s sure out of sight.” In The Outlaw Johnny BlackMichael Jai White is back in the saddle of satire to skewer another specific sub-genre, the Blaxploitation Western. While it might not be a direct sequel to Black Dynamite, White’s latest nostalgic takedown is certainly following the same spiritual vein. Prepare for slight pangs of political incorrectness, and the guilt that follows the resulting laughter. The comedy is brutal, awkward, and on point.

The brilliance of Black Dynamite is in how it perfectly falls in line with the blaxploitation genre, manages to mock its absurdity, and still comes out feeling fresh and inventive. A swelling love for the source material is found within every frame. We can expect more of the same from The Outlaw Johnny Black.

However, the idea this time around is to pull off a completely fan-funded production free from from studio interference/interest. White’s Jaigantic Studios has taken to Indiegogo to get the project off the ground, and they’ve set the goal at $1 million. The incentives range from autographed t-shirts to a walk-on brawl with Johnny Black himself. You read that right, for $5,000 you can go mano a mano against the outlaw. Anyone with a little extra cash lying around, please feel free to PayPal me.

The trailer is stitched together with shots from classic (and not-so-classic) Westerns. I see a little snippet from Jim Brown’s 100 Rifles and whole lotta Sergio Corbucci splattered around the saloon walls. Leone might be a touch too classy for the trashy depths they’re rummaging through.

Naturally, Byron Minns’s Bullhorn minister doesn’t shy from championing Black’s ability’s over other traditional Western heroes, “He made Billy a kid, took the eye from One-Eyed Jack, he’s a High Plains Drifter, ain’t nobody swifter than the Outlaw Johnny Black.” Blaxploitation heroes always found ways to one-up the usual gunfighters. What could Marlon Brando possibly have on Fred Williamson? Nothing.

The plot follows the usual revenge details. Martin Kove (The Karate Kid) is the rich industrialist with ties to the death of Black’s father. Minn is the hapless preacher who falls in the crosshairs of Black, and has his ministry ripped from him in some convoluted form of small town infiltration. There will be shoot-outs, prostitutes, and plenty of liquor. Who really cares what motivates the mechanics of the screenplay? As long as White is properly synched into that exploitation wavelength, the film will score big with me.

With a trailer consisting of just a few quickly strung together scenes, the film looks to be in sync with Black Dynamite’s unique balance of send-up and legit successor. Key to that is White pulling the same meta performance, portraying football icon turned terrible actor Ferrante Jones playing Johnny Black. Half the fun of the first film was found in that low-budget naval gazing. The boom mics dropping into frame, the actors failing to hit their marks. There’s a picture-in-picture play at work here, and imagining the actors trapped in the b-movie is as equally charming as the b-movie itself.

Watching this trailer that was whipped together within 24 hours is a tremendous boost of confidence. The final version of The Outlaw Johnny Black will certainly make use of every dollar you choose to send its way. Michael Jai White understands the value of his fanbase, and the pointlessness of looking beyond it. If we want to see the film, we’re going to have to make it happen. Who else is with me?

Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.